by Leslie Fields-Cruz
Recently, a rideshare driver regaled me with the story of how he met his wife. She, a native of Mexico, met him while he, an African American from New Orleans, was on leave from the U.S. Navy. There were many surprising elements to his story, including that they’ve been happily married for more than two decades despite having wed at age 18 after only a few months of dating. At the time, he didn’t speak Spanish and she didn’t speak English. Now the parents of five children, the couple’s Afro Latinx family is part of what the Pew Research Center reports is a growing segment of the U.S. population. As of 2019, Pew found there were 2.4 million Afro Latinos in the United States.
My husband — an Afro Latino of Puerto Rican/Dominican descent — and our children also belong to this growing demographic, one that popular media have generally ignored, even though the history of Afro Latinos in the U.S. extends back to the earliest days of the nation’s founding (e.g., the original settlers of Los Angeles, Calif., and St. Augustine, Fla., included Afro Latinos). Since Hispanic Heritage Month opened last week and runs through Oct. 15, I’d like to take a minute to recognize some of the Afro Latinx storytellers whose work has contributed to the success of public media.
In recent years, BPM has supported public media projects by several Afro Latino media makers, including Alzheimer’s in Color, by Yvonne Latty; Bakosó: Afro Beats of Cuba, by Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi; Rabiola Open Skies, by Leonardo Souza; Through the Night by Loira Limbal; and Stateless, Elena, and The Changing Same, by Michèle Stephenson.
These trailblazing storytellers are just a few of those who are helping to ensure the story of the United States includes the contributions of Afro Latinos. At BPM, we welcome the opportunity to support stories by makers from all parts of the African diaspora. If you are one with a story that needs to be told, please consider responding to our Open Call. The deadline to submit is next Monday (Sept. 26).
It’s Climate Change Week in New York City, which is timely for us because stories about climate justice are a priority for this year’s Open Call. If you’re working on a project that fits this description, don’t hesitate to submit it. Also, mark your calendar for Sat., Nov. 12, which is when we’re hosting a National Black Media Story Summit on Climate Justice in Houston. Details about how to register for that hybrid event will be available soon.
BPM also encourages everyone to check out this year’s March on Washington Film Festival, which runs Sept. 28-Oct. 2, in Washington, D.C. The festival has returned to in-person screenings and passes are available now at the virtual box office.
If you have questions about any of the opportunities BPM offers, please visit our website, follow us on social media, or contact me here at email@example.com. We always love to hear from you.
— Fields-Cruz is the executive director of Black Public Media