Latinos in the U.S. are often thought of as having lighter or brown skin, rather than being of African descent. This, despite the fact that the vast majority of enslaved Africans ended up in Latin America, not the United States — 4.8 million to 450,000. In D.C., 5,735 people identify as both Latino and black, according to 2010 census figures. These individuals represent 1 percent of D.C.’s total black population and 10 percent of D.C.’s Latino population.
Navigating identity issues for black Latinos in the U.S. can be tricky since people are often categorized by race and skin tone. A number of prominent black Latinos – including Soledad O’Brien and Tatyana Ali– talk about their struggles with identity in this short documentary, produced by Telemundo’s mun2 cable network. At one point, O’Brien jokingly states, “I literally just try to mess up the census. It’s such a flawed system. So I just check everything that applies, check, check, check, across the board.”