'Being Afro-Latina means a huge pride of culture, beauty and softness': Anamarie Edwards
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, WUWM is celebrating the rich cultural diversity of Milwaukee’s Hispanic and Latino people.
Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of people whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
Anamarie Edwards is a multidisciplinary artist.
Edwards is of Cuban and Black heritage. She grew up in the south and came to Milwaukee to attend a local design school. She’s currently taking art classes in a graduate program in Boston.
Edwards describes being Afro-Latina as a huge pride of culture, beauty and softness. "I feel like we're seen and depicted as thick skin, loud and just out of order most times in most publications and in media. But for me, it's peaceful, it's fun, sexy, it's very colorful and I feel like it's very soft and sensitive."
She says it's like a song — a "poetic fusion of people and groups of people together."
Edwards says when she celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, similar to how she celebrates Black History Month, she's thinking about how she can best advocate for her people in a way that is peaceful and not exhausting.
But specifically for Hispanic Heritage Month, she says, "Actually making Blackness more visible and appreciated in Latin communities because I am an artist who does recognize anti-Blackness in Latin communities because it does exist and I'm not going to be, you know, like an Afro-Latin person that's just gonna ignore that. So, I always try to figure out ways to implement those things to make Afro-Latinos visible in the Latin community because I feel like that is important and I think it's just something that's looked over or not really talked about often and I think it fuels an identity crisis almost."
She says she thinks that intentionality to include more Afro-Latinos in broader Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations is growing, but it could be better.
"Back home in Alabama and also in Tennessee, like I did meet, you know, some groups of people that were interested in making that a priority in Hispanic Heritage Month. Like when Hispanic Heritage Month would come about like that would be one of the first topics is to not forget that there is Blackness in our communities too and like these people do exist in our community and we should accept and learn about these people as well."
"I feel like there could be more and that's a frustration for me because I just feel like it's that anti-Blackness that kind of stops it a little bit or a lot — just being real. And the more conversations I have with people and the more I've implemented my work into the world, people end up asking me more questions, like especially Latin people, and they end up learning a lot."
Edwards says she hopes other artists who might identify as Afro-Latino and and want to make work about identity that they take pride in it, and do it.
"Either it's bold or subtle, but somebody takes something home from that piece that you made, so I just want to encourage people to make that bold work," she says.