Lorgia García Peña on “Translating Blackness”

In this latest episode of the Writing Latinos podcast, we discuss how some Afro-Latinas argue that the US census needs to accept that Latinos are not a race.

Writing Latinos, from Public Books, is a new podcast featuring interviews with Latino (a/x/e) authors discussing their books and how their writing contributes to the ever-changing conversation about the meanings of latinidad.

In this episode, Lorgia García Peña discusses her new book, Translating Blackness: Latinx Colonialities in Global Perspective (Duke University Press, 2022). For a long time, Afro-Latino scholars and community organizers have argued both for their greater belonging within Black and Latinx communities in the United States and recognition of their difference from them. 

Conversations about Blackness within latinidad became more urgent when members of the Los Angeles City Council were caught saying ugly things on tape and because of a proposal to combine race and ethnicity questions on the US Census that could lump all Latinos together as members of the same racial group, despite the fact that Latinos come from many racial backgrounds. As Afro-Latinas including García Peña have argued in opposition to the proposal, Latinos are not a race.

We discuss these broader issues of the relationship between Blackness and latinidad explicitly and implicitly by talking about historical figures like Frederick Douglass, Gregorio Luperón, and Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, as well as topics such as women’s activism and global movements led by Black Latinas and Latinos.

García Peña is a professor at Tufts University, in the Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora. As of July 1, she will begin a new position at Princeton University as a professor in the Effron Center for the Study of America and the Department of African American Studies. In addition to Translating Blackness, she is the author of Community as Rebellion: A Syllabus for Surviving Academia as a Woman of Color (Haymarket, 2022) and The Borders of Dominicanidad: Race, Nation, and Archives of Contradiction (Duke University Press, 2016).



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Writing Latinos is a production of Public Books. The show’s host is Geraldo Cadava, co-editor-in-chief of the magazine, and show’s producer is Tasha Sandoval. Our theme music is “City of Mirrors” by Dos Santos.