Black Latinos Who Made US History, Impacted Popular Culture

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Written by Marjua Estevez

Black people, in all of our various forms, are a mighty and indispensable entity. Our presence, contributions and influence go far beyond U.S. borders.

While Blackness and the Black experience vary according to where you are on the map, our country is one that has conditioned us to view Blackness as synonymous with “African-American,” glossing over the cultures, agencies, contributions and overall experiences of people across the African diaspora.

For instance, award-winning actor and playwright Ruben Santiago-Hudson's experience as a Black man — one born to a Puerto Rican father and African-American mother — is dichotomous and diasporic in disposition, and points to the negotiations many like him have often been forced to make with home. According to the New York Times

“When he came to New York in 1983, he was known as Ruben Santiago. He tried to get a part at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater and was asked if he spoke Spanish. (He does not.) When he wanted to work at the Negro Ensemble Company, 'they laughed and said, "We don't have Puerto Ricans,"' he said. So he added his mother's name, Hudson, and eventually won a part in A Soldier's Play at the Ensemble Company.”

In honor of Latino Heritage Month — often touted as Hispanic Heritage Month — BET shines light on a slew of Afro-Latino figures prolific in their respective fields of literature, performing arts, film, acting, writing, music, sports and aviation.

Read the full list at BET