Black History Month is a time to celebrate and acknowledge the diversity of Black communities, including the often-overlooked experiences of Afro-Latinx people: individuals of African descent who also have Latin American or Caribbean heritage. Their experiences and cultural heritage are shaped by this dual identity, and cannot be fully understood through a single Black or Latin American lens. It’s important to recognize and appreciate the contributions of Afro-Latinx to both Black history and Latin American culture, as well as to acknowledge the unique challenges they face in terms of health.
Growing evidence indicates that health disparities between Afro-Latinx and White Latinx are comparable to those experienced between Black and White non-Latinx Americans. Afro-Latinx people have shorter life expectancies than both Black and White non-Latinx Americans and White Latinx, and they face disproportionate health risks, including poor maternal and infant health outcomes, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and higher rates of depression compared to their White Latinx counterparts. For instance, Afro-Latinx face a 20 to 30 percent higher risk of infant mortality compared to White Latinx. Despite this evidence, we still know relatively little about the drivers behind these racial health inequities.
Afro-Latinx people are often subjected to a unique set of challenges and barriers due to racial categorization and discrimination in the United States. They’re more likely to live in economically and socially segregated communities, which can lead to limited access to resources and opportunities. Within the healthcare system, Afro-Latinx are more likely to experience discrimination in access and quality of care. They also face colorism and stigmatization within the Latinx community due to anti-Black racism, which can result in further marginalization, exclusion and reduced social and economic opportunities. These factors serve as social determinants of health and contribute to persistent health disparities for Afro-Latinx.
At the Center for Anti-racism, Social Justice and Public Health, we’re leading the charge to document the health of Afro-Latinx people and identify the social determinants that play a central role in maintaining these inequities. We will soon launch a new survey that seeks to capture details about the social, political and economic factors that influence health for communities of color in the northeastern U.S., including among Afro-Latinx.
Our scholars are committed to bringing attention to this often-forgotten community, and especially during Black History Month we acknowledge the intersectional nature of Afro-Latinx identity, and the social determinants that impact the well-being of the people in its community.
Adolfo G. Cuevas, PhD
Assistant Professor of Social & Behavioral Sciences
Anna-Michelle McSorley, PhD, MPH
Post-doctoral Associate, GPH Center for Anti-racism, Social Justice & Public Health