When the world looks at me, it sees a black man, and that blackness — both real and perceived — has tangible consequences. I’m among the hundreds of thousands who were humiliated at the hands of the New York City Police Department during the height of stop and frisk, an aggressive police tactic that targeted mostly black men and was ruled unconstitutional as applied in the city. As a black man within the Latino community, I have felt the pain of colorism, including at the hands of my own family. My Afro-Latino identity enables me to see racism intersectionally, within multiple cultures and across multiple spheres, such as the criminal justice system, education and immigration, to name but a few.
Since the “either-or” rule is a policy of the Congressional Black Caucus, I have a personal plea to make to my future colleagues there: Expecting Afro-Latinos like myself to be politically alienated from our own blackness — at a time when Black Lives Matter has become the rallying cry of a racially awakened nation— is the cruelest of ironies.
When the CBC has internal debates about issues affecting black people — as it surely will in 2021 when I hope to enter Congress — I, as a black man, have a right to have a seat at that table. Denying me that would do great harm not only to me but to the hundreds of thousands of African Americans and Afro-Latinos I will likely represent in the South Bronx.