Why is identifying as a Black Latino/Afro Latino important to you?
For me it is important. It’s tough here. I did not start using the word till 5 years ago because it was resonating more to me at the time. The importance of being Afro Latina is a complete different genre from the norm. Afro Latinos have a different rhythm, you eat Arroz con Pollo. I did not know much about little terms that are used culturally in the US. I could not relate to African American movement when I first came to the US. In Panama you are just Black. I was just a Black girl going to school. I never let being Black stop me from doing what I wanted to do and not do. It was more class based and within that there was Black middle class that is how my family was seen.
What has been the impact, both positive and negative of people not seeing you as a Black Latino/Afro Latino?
I guess the negative will be that I don’t fit in to any group. Because to African Americans, I am not fully black. I am seen as a light skin black girl who speaks Spanish. To the Latino community I am not seen as such. I speak good English and I move differently from the norm. I hear things like, ‘You are always on time.’ And why don’t you listen to Reggaeton? Positive outcome of being an Afro Latina is that I more than likely got the job in Boston because of fitting into both worlds. In my world it does not feel like it makes a difference. I don’t get treated in a different way.
How do you Amplify/show up in a Latinx world that expects us all to look like J.Lo and Marc Anthony?
I am a believer that you have to be yourself. I will show them that being Black comes in different ways. I was raised to show up with confidence. I enter every room believing that I should be there. I have lived a little bit more. It is happening all over the place. Brown or Black, in another market they were not excited to promote me even though I was the number one search agent. I never got promoted. Part of me believes that some of it had to do with the fact that my looks are completely different from the media norm and that I do not fit the skin tones. In Latin America, there are more Blacks or mixed people that whites abut we focus more on the white community, clear example of it is any popular media novella, you can see the lack of dark skin people.
Message for BHM– Always be yourself. Present yourself with class and don’t shy away from who you are or where you came from. Be proud of your roots. Stay humble.
Soy Colonense y estoy super orgullosa de eso con todo lo negative que dicen de Colon, es mi cuidad natal y la amo con mi ser. Siempre es importante mirar hacia atras para saber de donde se vino y a la vez enfocarse en el presente en via hacia un major future.
BIO: Denise Isaac was born and raised in Colón, Panamá. She moved to the United States to pursue her dream of becoming a Meteorologist and graduated with honors from Florida State University. Denise started her broadcasting career in Washington, D.C. while working for the local Telemundo station, since then, she has worked & lived in Minneapolis, Miami, Detroit and now Boston. Her current job allows her to show versatility, as she is the only bilingual Meteorologist on the team- Denise can usually be found on NBC and NECN but also on Telemundo Boston. Denise’s family still lives in Panama so she makes sure to go home at least once a year.