Edward Hiraldo was anxious about how his “nappy” hair would be received by a crowd of about 100 students Tuesday night.
Growing up with Dominican and Puerto Rican roots, it would be the talk of the night if his afro-hair was too puffy or poorly styled.
His hair stood out as his mark of also being black and a quality Hispanics may see as bad.
“I am truly, in every sense of the word, a minority, and I see it in my face every day,” the 21-year-old UF advertising senior said.
Hiraldo was one of five students who spoke about being Latino with African descent at UF’s first Afro-Latinx panel. Titled “I Am Enough: Afro-Latinx Panel,” the event was held Tuesday night in Pugh Hall Ocora, said Diego Castillo, the 25-year-old vice president of the Latino Hispanic Organization of Graduate Students.
A crowd of about 100 students and faculty gathered to hear the discussions on identity, representation, navigating higher education as an underrepresented group and racism and colorism within and outside the Latinx community.
“The Afro-Latino community has a unique experience where although they may identify as both black and Latino, they may not be accepted by either for various reasons,” Castillo said.
Two UF professors were also a part of the panel: Tanya Saunders from the Center for Latin American Studies and Bryce Henson from the African American Studies program.
The panel was hosted by the Latino Hispanic Organization of Graduate Students, Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, She’s the First UF, Hispanic Student Association at UF, UF Center for Latin American Studies, the UF African American Studies program and UF Hispanic-Latino Affairs, Castillo said.
The event cost about $300 to cover food and parking reservations, the UF information systems and operations management graduate student said. It was funded by Student Government and the co-sponsors.
“It is important to open the door for dialogue and conversation, especially in this day and age where everything and everyone attacks each other instead of listening to each other,” Castillo said.
Shania Stephens, one of the other student panelists, said in high school she was told she was too pretty to be black and was asked if she was mixed. People didn’t understand that she could be both black and Latinx. Both of her parents are black and from San Andrés Isla, Colombia, where she was born.
She said Latinx people don’t always look like what’s portrayed in the media. They come in different shades and sizes.
“I am proud. I am here, and I exist,” the 21-year-old UF biology senior said.
Any Hughes, who graduated from UF in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in applied physiology and kinesiology, said she attended the panel because she is Afro-Latina and wanted to see how the audience would react.
“I learned that there are a lot of people that identify and have gone through the same experiences that I have gone through,” the 26-year-old said.
Five UF students who spoke about being Latino with African descent at UF’s first Afro-Latinx panel titled “I Am Enough: Afro-Latinx Panel.” The event was held Tuesday night in Pugh Hall Ocora.