Language Bank: Key Terms

What concepts surface in our discussions of the Spanish-speaking African Diaspora? The following is a bank of terms related to the study of language and identity in African Diasporic experience.

  • Arturo A. Schomburg Symposium: Premiering in 1996, an annual conference hosted at Taller Puertorriqueño is devoted to the discussion of African presence in Latinx cultural histories.
  • Blanqueamiento & mejoramiento: Translated directly as “whitening” and “improvement”, in a social and political Latin American context these terms mean whitening phenotypes through racial intermarriage and consequently achieving higher social status within the family lineage.
  • Colorblindness: The idea that one doesn’t “see color” or that race isn’t an important factor when interacting with someone. Colorblind rhetoric can evoke the sense that you are treating someone with humanity despite someone’s race.
  • La Raza Cósmica: A term coined by Jose Vasconcelos in his 1920s philosophical treatise on the superiority of a new race comprised of a mixture of his conceptions of the five established races.
  • Latinegra: Identity term encompassing Latinidad, Blackness, Womxnhood, and Spanish-speaking.
  • Latinidad: This is a term to refer to a sense of Latinx identity , ones Latin-ness.
  • Liminality: The state/position of being in between two fixed and standard identities.
  • Mestizaje: “racial mixture”; a political ideology that recognizes the racial mixture between indio and blanco in Latin American countries. Built off on the colonial assumption of Spanish/white supremacy and black inferiority, claims of colorblindness and racial equality obscure the presence of racism and racial discrimination.
  • Racialization: Process of imposing racial identities/stereotypes on a person based on their perceived phenotypical race.
  • Raciolinguistics: An approach to understanding language and race as intertwined, and contributing to social behaviors. Beliefs of race manifest in language, and language is used to construct ideas of race.
  • Spanish language race terms: blanco, pardo, mestizo, indio, güera, criollo, negrita, negro , moreno, mulatto, rubia.