The Black Latino in the U.S.


According to the U.S. federal government Hispanic origin and race are considered two separate and distinct concepts.  Hispanic origin describes “a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race,” according to the Office of Management and Budget.  With that said, black Latinos in the United States are sometimes left to choose what they should be considered.

For Carlos “Carlethal” Bonfante being a Latino with predominantly black features says that it can sometimes work to your advantage.  Carlethal considers himself a “big mix” since his father is part Columbian and Italian and his mother part Panamanian, Chinese and black.  “For me to pick and choose, that happens everyday,” says Carlethal.

He is the head of the Latin Division for Double Xxposure, a black owned and operated publicity firm in New York City. Today he is helping the company bridge the gap between Latin artists and the general market and also helps educate clients and co-workers about the importance of reaching out to the Latin entertainment industry.  He has been able to bring “Latin flavor” to an African-American establishment, something that makes him very proud.


Carlethal says that if he is in a predominantly black area like Harlem, he instantly changes his behavior and the way he speaks.  In the Washington Heights area, which has a high Dominican population, he uses his Spanish, “I was way more Hispanic than anything up there,” he says.  When he lived in Washington Heights he recalls being in an elevator and hearing people speak badly about him in Spanish, not knowing that he was bilingual.

He says that he has been discriminated as a black and also as Hispanic when he attended a predominantly White school; this usually happens outside of the melting pot of New York City.  For Carlethal being diverse has other advantages when dealing with groups of people who are more open minded and the ladies, who find his background intriguing.  

His ear for music has led him to create a new music genre that is as diverse as his background, Urban Rock – a genre that blends all genres of music into one to promote unity.  He is currently working on an album and once again he will use his background and ability to cross the cultural lines to his advantage.


tego_calderon►Tego Calderon
Tegui Calderón Rosario, better known as Tego Calderon, is one of the most widely recognized and successful rap and reggaeton artists to come from the island of Puerto Rico.  Born in 1972, in the city of Santurce, Tego raps about the harsh life of the ghettos and political injustices.  Tego says that he is black first and Latino second.  He also encourages others Latinos like him to be proud of their “blackness”.  His first love in music is salsa, then hip-hop, but he has been a key figure in the spread of reggaeton.  He made his name in 2002 when his debut album, “El Abayarde” sold 50,000 copies in its first day of release, something never done at that time from any reggaeton album.  He has brought to the genre a unique Afro-Caribbean style that fuses salsa, bomba, plena, dancehall, reggae, and even blues.


robertoclemente ►Roberto Clemente
Clemente was born in the San Anton barrio in Carolina, Puerto Rico in 1934, little did he know, he would become one of the best baseball players of all time. Clemente helped the Pittsburgh Pirates win the 1960 and 1971 World Series. In 1972, Clemente hit his 3,000 and final hit of his career.  When the city of Managua in Nicaragua had a devastating earthquake on December 23, 1972, Clemente sent three planes worth of aid for the victims but soon found out the government was taking the packages. As a result, Clemente went by himself, but the plane had 5,000 pounds more weight than it should have, he died on a plane crash, December 31, 1972. He was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973.



a_schomburg ►Arturo Alfonso Schomburg
Known to many as Arthur Schomburg, the Puerto Rico born Black Latino is known as “The Father of Black History.” His inspiration for documenting Black History was in grade school when one of his teachers said “blacks have no history.” He raised awareness of the great contributions that African-Americans and Black Latinos made to society. Schomburg’s collection of research was so good that the Carnegie Corporation purchased his collection to start the Carnegie’s library of Negro History in Harlem.


celia_cruz ►Celia Cruz
Winner of twenty three gold records, three Grammy’s, and four Latin Grammy’s; Celia Cruz had a huge impact on the music industry. Born in 1925, her first big break came in 1950 when she was asked to join Sonora Mantacera. The public did not accept her at first but the group asked her to stay. Cruz became famous with the “Azucar” sugar catchphrase. Tito Puente and Cruz worked on eight albums together and she even headlined a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York with pianist Larry Harlow. She died of a cancerous brain tumor on July 16, 2003. Her body was sent to Miami and then returned to New York City where thousands of fans paid tribute at the funeral home.


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