Invite These Afro-Latinas/os, Not Me

During the past few years, conversations about the embodied reality of Afro-Latinidad have become more frequent on social media and blogs. But Afro-Latinidad is not a new thing, not in Latin America and not in the United States. As Miriam Jiménez Román and Juan Flores write, “The Afro-Latin@ presence in the United States predates not only the nation’s founding but also the first English settlements.”[1] In spite of this, Latinidad has been constructed in very white terms, both here in Turtle Island (North America) and in Abya Yala (Latin America). As Christian academic spaces, conferences, and other platforms play catch-up on the inclusion of Black Latinas/os, it is imperative that dark-skinned afrodescendientes, as well as Black Latinas/os who have been doing this work for decades, are centered. Nevertheless, due to the pervasiveness of anti-blackness and colorism, what will happen is that white Latinas/os and light-skinned Afro-Latinas/os will be the first ones invited to speak and write on Afro-Latinidad. For that reason, I want to recommend the following voices. In other words, invite these Afro-Latinas/os, not me.

Jon Aragón

@jondoulos on Twitter

Jon Aragón is an Afro-Colombiano and the proud son of immigrants. He is an entrepreneur, creative, a multidisciplinary designer, and the founder of Jon Doulos, a company specialized in branding, video, web development, and creative direction. Jon is also the Creative Director and Co-founder at Native Supply, and serves on the preaching and teaching team of Living Faith Bible Fellowship. Jon is passionate about the holistic discipleship of young men. He is married to the gifted author and spoken word artist Quina Aragón.

You can watch/hear a snapshot of Jon’s story here. Also, Jon will be speaking on “The Afro-Latinx Experience & Immigration” at The Immigration Coalition (TÍC) National Conference on October 23, 2020.

Agustina Luvis Núñez

Find her on Facebook here

La Dra. Agustina Luvis Núñez is a Puerto Rican theologian living and doing theology in the island. A life-long learner, she holds several degrees, including an MDiv from the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico, a Master in Theology and a PhD in Systematic Theology from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. Agustina and I come from the same town, Canóvanas, in the northeast of the island. She serves as Assistant Professor and as Director of the DMin program at the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico. Her areas of interest include Pentecostal theology and feminist theology. Her publications include Creada a su imagen: Una pastoral integral para la mujer (Abingdon Press, 2012).

Guesnerth Josué Perea

Find him on Facebook here

Guesnerth Josué Perea is the Director of Programs and Communications at the Afrolatin@ Forum. Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, he moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York at the age of 10. Guesnerth holds a BA in History and Classics from The City College of New York, and an MA in Theology from Alliance Theological Seminary, and serves in the pastoral/teaching team at Metro Hope Covenant Church in Harlem. His publications include “Alaridos de las Baldías: The Role of AfroColombian Poetry in the Creation of a Black Identity in Colombia” in Let Spirit Speak!: Cultural Journeys through the African Diaspora (State University of New York Press, 2012).

Esperanza Gene

@bravelywith on Twitter

A Detroit native, Esperanza is both African American and Dominican. She earned a BA in Theology and a BA in English Professional Writing from Oakwood University, and an MA in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Seminary in California. Esperanza is a community organizer as well as a social sciences researcher focused on anti-racism work in the USA. She aspires to pursue doctoral studies in sociology.

You can listen to Esperanza’s interview with Dr. Daniel White Hodge here.

Andres De Arco

Find him on Facebook here

Andres De Arco was born in Cali, Colombia and raised in the USA. He is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, and serves as the National Assistant Director for The Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA). His essay “Reflections on Afro-Latinidad” is a must read.

Nora De Arco

Find her on Facebook here

An Afro-Colombiana, Nora Dearco describes herself as an “avid believer in community as a source of healing and empowerment.” She says, “I was brought up in community and for community.” Nora holds a BSc on Human Development and Family Science from The Ohio State University, and a Master of Divinity with concentration on Global and Community Engagement from Boston University. She served as National Assistant Coordinator for The Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA).

Karla Mendoza

@KarlaMendoza19 on Twitter

Karla Mendoza is an Afro-Peruvian DACAmented immigrant woman living in-between spaces. An “accidental storyteller,” “lover of laughter,” and “the human form of the 100 emoji,” Karla is passionate about “Jesus, reconciliation in the Church, living a life of joy in the midst of pain, and listening to people’s stories.” Watch Karla preach on “The God Who Sees” here, and visit her website Dear Karla.

Yolanda M. Santiago Correa

@ysantiagocorrea on Twitter

Yolanda es la hija de Yolanda y Miguel, Methodist ministers. She is from Bayamón, Puerto Rico but is currently residing in Texas. She earned a BA in Psychology from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School, and is now pursuing a PhD in Religion and Culture at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. As part of her doctoral studies, “Yolanda hopes to explore Afro-Latinidad and the relationship of that identity with religion, particularly Christianity. What does it mean to accept ‘Africanity’ in a colonial nation under the power of the US, a white-dominated empire? How do we think of ‘darker’ Latinxs and their experience of colorism not only in society but in the particular culture of the Church? How do we reconcile the colonial history of Christianity and the colonial history of Puerto Rico in the bodies of non-white Puerto Ricans?” All these questions are at the center of Yolanda’s project.

Learn more about Yolanda here.

Fabíola Oliveira

I first had the privilege of hearing Fabiola Olivera speak at this year’s Encuentro Latinoamericano de Jóvenes Evangélicos de Miqueas Joven (Micah Network). She speaks passionately and with an undeniable commitment to the gospel of Jesus and the God of Life. Fabíola is a black Baptist Brazilian woman, activist in the fight against racism, social educator, teacher, theology student, researcher at the Instituto de Investigación Djanira Ribeiro, and Founder and Executive Director of Odarah Cultura e Missão.

Watch/listen to Fabíola speak with Yenny Delgado from Publica: Theology in Public Life on intersectionality, being a woman of color, and faith:

Olga Marina Segura

@OlgaMSegura on Twitter

Afro-Dominicana Olga Marina Segura is an opinion editor for the National Catholic Reporter, and the author of the forthcoming book The Birth of a Movement: Black Lives Matter and the Catholic Church, which will be published by Orbis Books in Spring 2021. She was associate editor at America Media, and is a co-founder and former co-host of the podcast Jesuitical. Prior to working at America Media, Olga was an intern at the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations. She graduated from Fordham University with a BA in English and a BA in Italian Language and Literature. She was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and is now based in The Bronx, NY.

Learn more about Olga here.

Emilio Alvarez

@BishopEAlvarez on Twitter

Rev. Dr. Emilio Alvarez is the founding Rector at The Cathedral at the Gathering Place in Rochester, New York, and the Ordinary for the Diocese of Christ the King, a non-geographical diocese of Afro-Latino Charismatic churches recovering a classical consensual orthodoxy. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in New Jersey, Emilio’s passion is for Afro-Latino/a Charismatics and classical Christian consensual teaching. He holds a BA in Christian Education, an MA in Religious Education from New York Theological Seminary, and a PhD in Religious Education from Fordham University. Bishop Alvarez was consecrated a bishop in the Lord’s Church in 2011 and is currently a member of the Union of Charismatic Orthodox Churches. In 2014, he was invited along with other bishops to the Vatican in Rome to have an audience with Pope Francis around the theme “The Miracle of Unity.”

You can watch/listen to Bishop Alvarez speaking on being Afro-Latino, Pentecostalism, and Black religions with Lisa Fields for Jude 3 Project:

Ronilso Pacheco

@ronilso_pacheco on Twitter

Ronilso Pacheco is a theologian, pastor, activist in the field of human rights, and collaborator of multiple organizations, churches, and social movements. He is from São Gonçalo, a metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro in Brasil. There, he serves in the pastoral team at Comunidade Batista. He has a degree in theology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, and a master’s in Theology from Union Theological Seminary. His research topics are racism, violence, reconciliation, and the church and the anti-racist fight in civil rights. His publications include Teologia Negra: O sopro antirracista do Espírito (Novos Diálogos, 2019) and Ocupar, Resistir, Subverter: Igreja e teologia em tempos de racismo, violência e opressão (Novos Diálogos, 2016).

Jackson Augusto

@afrocrente on Twitter

Jackson Augusto is part of the Coordenação Nacional do Movimiento Negro Evangélico in Brasil. He is also the producer of content at AfroCrente, and podcaster for the Afrocrentes Cast, a podcast by Black evangélicos (not to be confused with USA evangelicals) talking about politics, religion, human rights, Black theology, racism, culture, and blackness.

Watch/Listen to Jackson speaking on being a Black evangélico (again, not to be confused with USA and Euro-American evangelicalism):

This list aims to serve as a starting point and not as the sole resource. My hope is that leaders of ministries, organizations, and platforms will expand their circles and build relationships with Afro-Latina/o creatives, scholars, organizers, etc. Furthermore, do not relegate Afro-Latinas/os to the topic of Afro-Latinidad. Each of us have our expertise in many different fields. Honor that. Estas son solo algunas de las caras lindas de mi gente negra.

[1] Miriam Jiménez Román and Juan Flores, eds.,“Historical Background before 1900,” in The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States (Duke University Press, 2010),17.

Featured Image: Photo by Ban Yido taken in Havana, Cuba. Unsplash.

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