Guest Blog By Dr. Marie Nubia-Feliciano

On September 24 during the annual International Society of Black Latinos Awards Gala, Dr. Anaida Colón-Muñiz received an award. It was in recognition of her being a champion for “promoting cultural awareness, strengthening leadership, and community building.” She was one of four recipients that evening.

Some of you may not know that Anaida is Puerto Rican, specifically a Boricua (the Taíno indigenous name for the island of Puerto Rico). She is so proud of being Boricua that she is also the president of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Southern California Chapter (NACOPRW-SoCal). Through this affiliation, she specifically works to promote the Puerto Rican culture and supports the educational, emotional, and professional development of young Latinas. I was one of those (not-so) young Latinas. My dissertation was on Afro-Boricua women (like me) and how we made our way in the world. As I struggled to put together my ideas, she helped me maintain a focus on the one thing that was the centerpiece of my work, the African heritage in the Puerto Rican community. Ironically, this was easy to lose sight of due to the lack of literature available that speaks to our experiences. Her ability to guide me could only come about because she was tuned in to her own identity.

The mission of the International Society of Black Latinos (ISBL) is to “educate the local and broader communities of the existence of Afro-Latinos and the influence that the African Diaspora has had, and continues to have, on Latin cultures around the world.” They also reach out to youth through workshops and seminars that reinforce the importance of building a stronger and unified community. They emphasize academia, self-awareness, social acceptance (tolerance), character building, cultural and artistic enrichment and leadership development. The evening was filled with history, music, dance, poetry and art that reflect African heritage.