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Dr. Victoria Gonzalez Rivera On Afro-Latinidades in Central America

UC Irvine’s Department of Chicano/Latino Studies hosted a zoom webinar commemorating Latinx History month on Oct. 22. In the webinar, Dr. Victoria Gonzalez-Rivera, a trained historian with a Ph.D. in Latin American History and Associate Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at San Diego State University, discussed how anti-black racism is prevalent in Latin America. 

According to the Department of Chicano/Latino Studies, Gonzalez-Rivera “weaves together her personal experiences and her expertise as a trained historian of Latin America to shed light on why and how anti-Black racism permeates Central America and ‘Central American American’ communities and why developing anti-racist coalitions in this context is so difficult but also so important” in the presentation.

Gonzalez-Rivera recently published an essay titled, “Why My Nicaraguan Father Did Not ‘See’ His Blackness And How Latinx Anti-Black Racism Feeds On Racial Silence,” in which she discusses her father’s struggles with his black ancestry. 

During the webinar, Gonzalez-Rivera spoke more in-depth about how her father was often teased as a child for having a darker complexion. It wasn’t until recently that Gonzalez-Rivera started questioning why her father was reluctant to admit he had black ancestry. 

The professor mentioned how her father had the belief that racism in the United States was different (and worse) than racism in Nicaragua. She agrees with her father and attributes this difference to the countries’ distinct hierarchical systems, cultural stigma on racial mixing and the use of racial labels after slavery. 

Gonzalez-Rivera hopes that by dispelling beliefs about Afro-Latinidades in Central America, people will realize that “shedding our anti-Black racism and denouncing anti-Black racism in our midst is long overdue.”

Magaly Bravo is a Campus News intern for the 2020 Fall Quarter. She can be reached at bravomt@uci.edu