The Black Latina Movement is what theatre needs right now.
That’s a pretty bold statement. In a white-washed world, many main stage seasons don’t reflect the diversity of the nation. The ladies of the Black Latina Movement took representation into their own hands and formed a company that champions Black Latinas! After starting in 2008, the dynamic team of women have traveled the United States touring their shows, including their signature piece Black Latina the play. The play, scripted by Crystal Roman (pictured above) was actually the first piece I heard of that tackled Afrolatinidad. Their journey was a source of inspiration for me.
When I sat down to write my play The Stories of Us, I thought that if the women at the Black Latina Movement could speak their truth, I could tell my stories (and the Stories of Us …pun intended) as well. I was captured by the group’s passionate mission to ensure the “advancement of the Black Latina voice.” As artists of color, we are often times confronted with the dilemma of showcasing our cultural identities on stage.
Should we write about our cultural traditions?
Should we not write about our distinct ways of walking in the world?
If I write about and for Black people will my audience be limited?
If I choose to use Spanish or Portuguese or Patois in my play, will my non-[insert language other than English here] speaking audience feel alienated?
But Crystal Roman and her band of bosses are not letting that stop their from telling the stories that they want to tell. Through the play, Black Latina, The Colors of Love web series and their piece Of Mothers and Men, the voices of Black Latinas and people of color ring loud and clear.
The Black Latina Movement boldly shares Black Latina experiences through theater, music and film. They live up to their mission by not just putting Black Latinas on stage, but portraying them in a positive light. While their plays are entertaining, they are also laced with messages of self-love. Roman told Blavity, “Self loathing and hatred seeps in and dissatisfaction of under-representation in the media forces young girls to question their beauty and value.” She hopes that through Black Latina Movement, she can see a change in that perspective.
“Once people understand our diversity, they can learn the broad spectrum of just what really is a Black Latina. Love it, embrace it and carry on! This is far from easy, but the process has to start somewhere,” states Roman.