May 14, 2023

Latine/Afro-Latinx—What Do You Mean Black AND Latinx? Navigating Racial and Coloristic Oppression as an Afro-Latina (Sandra Huber, S1, Ep 19)

Latine/Afro-Latinx—What Do You Mean Black AND Latinx? Navigating Racial and Coloristic Oppression as an Afro-Latina (Sandra Huber, S1, Ep 19)
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In this episode, we dive deep into the Afro-Latino Latinx identity, as experienced by Sandra Huber from Panama to the United States, where her identity shifted from being simply Panamanian to being labeled as Hispanic, Latina, and eventually Afro-Latina.

We discuss the challenges of navigating racial and coloristic oppression within Indian and Latin American communities, as well as within broader American society. We also touch on the importance of acknowledging and accepting one's blackness and the complex racial dynamics that exist within the community.

We explore the experiences of being Afro-Latina in predominantly white neighborhoods and the impact on mental health. Sandra shares her personal encounters with racial profiling and the assumptions made about her by some white community members.

We also discuss the Hispanic paradox, which does not apply to Afro-Latinos, and the need for healthcare providers to be more culturally aware and curious about their patients' backgrounds.

Finally, we delve into the power of intentional curiosity, particularly in the medical field. Being open to asking questions and avoiding assumptions can lead to better care and more accurate diagnoses. This conversation emphasizes the need for empathy and genuine interest in the diverse backgrounds of patients.

Join us as we explore the complexities of Afro-Latino Latinx identity and the importance of understanding and embracing one's unique heritage.


(0:00:07) - Afro Latino Identity

(0:17:00) - Navigating Racial and Coloristic Oppression

(0:25:49) - Navigating Discrimination

(0:35:12) - Acknowledging Afro-Latino Identity in Healthcare

(0:50:45) - The Power of Intentional Curiosity

Chapter Summaries:

(0:00:07) - Afro Latino Identity (17 Minutes)

In this podcast episode, we explore the Afro-Latino Latinx identity through the experiences of Sandra Solano Huer, who was born and raised in Panama City, Panama. Sandra discusses her journey from Panama to the United States, where her identity shifted from being simply Panamanian to being labeled as Hispanic, Latina, and eventually Afro-Latina. She shares her experiences with people asking "what are you?" and how she navigates these questions with patience and understanding.

(0:17:00) - Navigating Racial and Coloristic Oppression (9 Minutes)

In this part of the conversation, we delve into the impact of colorism and racial dynamics within the Indian and Latin American communities, as well as within broader American society. The discussion touches on personal experiences of feeling excluded or treated differently due to skin color, as well as the implications of marrying someone lighter-skinned for upward mobility and safety. We also explore how racism and colorism can affect mental and physical health, and the importance of being aware of these issues to make informed decisions about one's identity and life choices'

(0:25:49) - Navigating Discrimination (9 Minutes)

We discuss the challenges and intricacies of embracing black identity within the Latino community and the various terms used to describe mixed ancestry. We also touch on how black identity does not contradict Latino identity and how the Afro-Latino population faces higher rates of poverty and discrimination compared to other Latino groups. Through personal anecdotes, we explore the importance of acknowledging and accepting one's blackness and the complex racial dynamics that exist within the community

(0:35:12) - Acknowledging Afro-Latino Identity in Healthcare (16 Minutes)

In this portion of the episode, we examine the experiences of being Afro-Latina in predominantly white neighborhoods and the impact on mental health. Sandra shares her personal encounters with racial profiling and the assumptions made about her by some white community members. We also explore the Hispanic paradox, which does not apply to Afro-Latinos, and discuss the need for healthcare providers to be more culturally aware and curious about their patients' backgrounds. Sandra emphasizes the importance of asking questions and developing relationships with community members, as well as advocating for oneself within the healthcare system'

(0:50:45) - The Power of Intentional Curiosity (1 Minutes)

We explore the importance of curiosity and intentionality in understanding people's identities, particularly in the medical field. Being open to asking questions and avoiding assumptions can lead to better care and more accurate diagnoses. Despite the limited time in a medical appointment, knowing what to ask and being prepared can make a significant difference in providing personalized care. This conversation emphasizes the need for empathy and genuine interest in the diverse backgrounds of patients'



  • Timespan: 50 minutes & 52 seconds
  • Transcription Type: Cleaned Verbatim
  • Speakers: ( Sandra Huber & Raj Sundar)


Ray Sundar:Have you thought about what it means to be black and the Latinx community? Do you know that you can be black in the Latinx community, and there's a term called Afro-latinx?



Sandra Huber: We have all this general names, then latin and all  of those, but each one within the Spanish speaking culture, we just can't say, I am "negra". And that is not an insult, and we need to start using that word without being afraid of offending anyone.



Raj Sundar:Hi, I'm Dr. Raj, Sundar, a family physician, and a community organizer.  You're listening to Healthcare for Humans Podcast, the podcast dedicated to educating you on how to care for culturally diverse communities, so you can be a better healer. This is about everything that you wish you knew, to really care for the person in front of you, not just a body system. Let's learn together. You just heard from Sandra Uber, born and raised in Panama City, Panama, she moved to the US to work in industrial engineering, but actually found her calling in Health and Social Services. She has been instrumental in developing community health worker or Prometheus de salud programs through her organization. So far in this series on the Latin community, we have covered Latin history, and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). And today, we'll be talking about the Afro Latinx identity. When I was organizing this series, a brought up my idea to the Latinx health board, a group of Latinx leaders bridging the gap between health care and communities. After I pitched my idea, I asked them, What am I missing? Sandra quickly chimed in. She said, What about being black in the Latinx community? I have to admit I completely missed it. This is a common experience. What did you think of when I said we're having a Latin a series? Did you know that approximately 24% of the US Latino population identifies as Afro Latino 24%. Despite the significant number Afro Latinos are often left out of conversation surrounding Latinx identity. We think of being black as different from being Latino. This is a problem. The Afro-Latinx community faces unique challenges due to their inter-sectional identity being both black and Latino. They face discrimination and colorism. Have you heard of the word colorism before? Colorism is the specific prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a darker skin tone among people of the same ethnic or racial group. I know this personally being a dark skinned Indian. There are many lighter skinned people in the Indian community. And the definition of beautiful and privilege is often associated with lighter skin. In fact, there's a whole industry on helping people become lighter. You may or may not know this, but there's a cream called "Fair and Lovely" or "fair and handsome". I think that re-branded it to glow and lovely or something. But the main active ingredient in that cream is nice and amide which was patented by Unilever as a melanin suppressor. For decades and decades, people are buying this cream to look lighter. Because melanin in your skin is not beautiful. Not wanted, not appreciated. That's colorism. As healthcare providers, I think it's imperative that we understand all facets of the Latin identity to provide a culturally inclusive care for this population. This means understanding the Afro Latin x identity to you'll hear from Sandra today about our personal experience with colorism, what it means to hold the Afro Latinx identity. I hope it gives a better starting point for empathy, respect, and cultural understanding. So you can care for your Afro Latinx patients better. Sandra bienvenidos. Thanks for being on the show today. And I'm excited to talk about the Afro Latino, Latinx identity today. Before we get started, just tell me a little bit about yourself.



Sandra Huber:Absolutely. My name is Sandra Solano Heuer and I'm the proud daughter of Domingo Solano and Savia Penia. And I was born and raised in Panama City, Panama. And about 36 years ago, I can't believe it's been that long. I was I was living in Panama and there was a lot of instability during that time in 1985 1986. What then Noriega military regime at that time, so my parents decided to send me to the United States to study industrial engineering, and they sent me to Wichita, Kansas, to Wichita State University. And even though Oh, it wasn't unlike the happening place. It was a lovely place for a very shelter young woman that was trying to figure out her place and morals. One of those stories I like to tell in so far as that transition from Panama to where I'm at here now in Washington State is that I let Panama, a Sandra Solano, just a student of Panama. And once I landed in Kansas, my whole world changed because then I had to identify or was referred to as Hispanic. And then from there, once I was done with school, I started working and got a job in California, in Los Angeles. And then when I moved over there, there was another shift. And I was then a Latina, than now probably do, people would say, Latine or Latinx. And then I follow my journey up here to Washington. And then when I got here, he got all mixed up. Because there weren't very many people of color. There weren't very many Latinos. And definitely, there was some misunderstanding. In me and everyone else around me, what I was, is people will come up and say, What are you? Because in those days, I could have been Indiana, it could have been all kinds of different cultures, but people never identify me as Latina and definitely not as black. So that's how I ended up here being part of a Latinx board and Sallie Mae you.



Raj Sundar: Thank you. Yeah, there's so many things we could talk about here. But what I want to focus this second is this question of what are you? People like asking that, which seems so obviously, I don't know what it is denigrating or dismissing of this other person's identity, because it's like, hey, like, you look really strange. And I can't put you into a box. Tell me, what are you? But I'm curious, when people ask you that? How do you respond? What do you say?



Sandra Huber:It depends, as I've gotten older, I think I have understood the context, that people come into asking that question. And some people are genuinely just curious, because they have been trained, like you said, to put people in boxes, and some of it is just so they know what language you prefer, or how you want to be referred to. And there's some people that definitely will determine how they treat you based on which box, they can put you. And so in my younger years, it used to drive me crazy. And I used to feel so dismissed, because the obvious answer to that question is, what are you, I'm a human being standing here in front of you. But I think that's a given. Because we couldn't be having this conversation if that wasn't the case. But I started listening to My God, and making assumptions, just like my assumptions were made about me and gotten more difficult when my daughter was born, because her father is first generation of German parents. And she's very light skinned. And I was asked quite a few times if was the nanny, or if I was the maid, or where I got her from. So that was really difficult. Because she didn't look anything like me, at least when she was little. So now when people ask me that, then I typically go, what exactly is that they do want to know? Do you want to know where I'm from? Do you want to know where my accent is from? Do you want to know what I believe? What is it exactly that you want to know and that I get into, I identify as Afro Latina, that means that I'm descendant of African peoples that were enslaved and brought to Latin America in the Caribbean, and who now reside in the United States, because in Panama, I don't have to say I'm an Afro-latina. That's just a given. We all were mates. But in the United States, it's important to clarify that I'm a black person of Latin American origin and African ancestry living in the US.



Raj Sundar:Yeah, yeah. That's just so generous of you. And I think we could all use more generosity these days, because it's hard to hear. People say "What are you?" over and over experiences of your old child people like, Hey, you must be the nanny or maid because that can be yours. That's so tough. And I'm not saying it wasn't tough for you. But your approach and your response is so very generous. I like it.



Sandra Huber:It was then,  a lot of people have got the spicy side of me but I think what ended up happening is I understood my own, my own shadows, my own demons and what I brought for from Panama here, because even though the majority of people in Panama can trace their ancestry to the diaspora of African people is not without its challenges, too. So I think that what's happened for me is that I've been understanding more and more that if somebody grew up here can that's not an excuse. And that's what I do in the social justice work that I do, it doesn't mean that you get a pass, because you don't know any better. But I also have to take into consideration that if you weren't raised in the United States, you are indoctrinated from the moment you're conceived to see things that way. So I would rather educate you, and see if you want to come along this journey and learn more, or if you just need to see whether you're gonna hire me or not, whether you give me the loan or not. And we can change that from a place of of hate and resentment. And I don't judge anyone who feels that way. Because I came with a lot of privilege and a lot of opportunities that many of my community don't have. So I think that because of that, I focus more on how I can make this easier for my daughter, because even though she's lightened again, and passes for white, she also has other issues that come about because people look at her and go, Okay, what is the deal here? So, I think generosity is a kind word, but I think it's survival is really learning how to manage and how to navigate the system without adding to what's already in.



Raj Sundar: Thanks for rephrasing that. Okay, let's do some context building. And then we can talk about your identity as Afro Latino, Latinx Latina, you're gonna use any of those, I'll say from now on forward, just know that we can use any word and I'm trying to be as inclusive as possible. So statistically, 100, and 30 million, Afro Latinos live in Latin America and the Caribbean, is approximately 20% of the total population of the region, which is why I sent out when you said, when you're there, no one's like, Hey, you're Afro Latina, because one out of five people are you, they're not going to call you out as being different. And for example, in Brazil, or out 55% of the population identifies as Afro-Brazilian. And there's a large population in Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Panama, where you're from. The countries where there are probably less Afro-Latinos, or Costa Rica, or Uruguay, I think it's less than 5% or so. Most of Latin America, this is an essential part of people's identity living there. And where the start is that the identity of Afro-Latina is complex, multifaceted, and spans centuries because we know that indigenous people were in these countries for a long time. And then the enslavement of Africans started. And many of the enslaved Africans, but 80 to 90% were brought to the Caribbean and South America. I think we don't acknowledge that enough, because we really focus on North America, for this history. Does that sound right to you? As I'm starting this conversation?



Sandra Huber:Yeah,absolutely. And one of the things that it's important to remember is that term started percolating in the 70s. And it was because the black activists in Brazil sparked a social-political movement to fight for recognition in the country's census, because Brazil at that time, did not recognize its black citizens in the census. So it was important that we started recognizing that even though a lot of enslaved Africans were brought to North America, the majority were brought particularly to Brazil. And it's an everything, it's part of their identity and their life, but they didn't even have rights. When you start thinking about what happened in the 20th century, when black immigrants started coming from nation, particularly to the United States were being sold the idea of racial democracy, and then we get here and we find out that really, there's segregation, there is violence. And as a black person, depending, your white or your ethnic background is you start experiencing that segregation, that violence in ways similar than what you have seen in some Latin American countries, like in South America, there's some book and I can remember, I think it's called Black and Latin American you see the map of how 200 years ago to 300 years ago there were free and enslaved black people all over Latin America, but then as the European influence started to trickle in more and more, they started moving towards the coast. And there are some places where now there is hardly anyone that identifies as back. So it's a new thing as labeled, but it's not a new thing in so far as the experience and when I got here to Washington State in the late 90s, I realized that blackness and Latina meaning the Latino part of me, were not mutually exclusive. That is even the idea because for many of us, Latino, we don't understand that because race and ethnicity are and one in the same, we don't tend to divide it. But we know Latino or Latina refers to it missed it, as opposed to race. So educating people that both white and black Latinos actually exist is part of unpacking that whole thing that we're talking about when we talk about Afro-latinos.



Raj Sundar:Yeah, thanks, Sandra, I would say, to highlight, sometimes we fall into the story of all black histories enslaved African history when there were free, and black folks all of Latin America. And that changed as racism spread globally. And the Atlantic slave trade started to support the global economy and all of those things. As you note, the second point is that black and white, people's understanding of it is sometimes limited. So becomes mutually exclusive, like Latina, Latino, can't be black. And I think one thing that came out recently was that all Latinos support the Black Lives Matter Movement. And you're like, Are there black folks in the Latino community, it's like the separation of, hey, Latinos are separate from the Black Lives Matter Movement. And we want to show solidarity with you. And there's black folks within that community that I think that sometimes felt like they were their identity wasn't acknowledged in there.



Sandra Huber:And I think I remember when it all started a few years ago, with the Black Lives Matter, we were asking in community and organizations in places where we missed what was our role, what was our part, whether you were Afro-Latino, or not. And I think that what this strengths of, unfortunately, of many movement is that even within the movement, sometimes you can find his trauma Olympics, when we went through is worse than what you went through when you didn't have this time, Ben and I did have this now, Ben, and they treat Latinos better than they treat black. And so all these conversations, and for some of us, it really awaken the need to understand our own privilege as Latinos and as black Latinos, but also to burn away to relate because there are a lot of similarities, a lot of parallels in the wake once you get here is it doesn't people don't give you a pass because you're a black, Latino, you're black. And that says, so there was a lot of conflict, trying to figure out what our place was. And I don't know that that question is completely answered, but we're still digging in because even between ourselves, within the community between the Latino community, there is colorism there's racism, there is an anti-blackness all these things. So So I think that what that did was, just bring it up. Let's call a spade a spade, and let's see when my experience can support your experience. And I felt like the role was telling me you can either be black and Latino, but you couldn't be both. And I didn't know how to explain being both. And then when you start thinking about language, people from Latin America speak French, who speak Spanish, and Portuguese. And so it's really, it's really complex. But I think that brought it to a head and we still struggling with figuring out what Black Lives Matter means to us, as immigrants and as black people.



Raj Sundar:Yeah. You said a few things here that I want to focus on or highlight this time around. One is the idea of colorism and anti-blackness because some of this becomes jargon because we hear it so much. And then now it's become polarized, nobody's actually talking to each other when you're using these words. But let's just focus on this experience because a lot of communities hold this. I think it's for a specific reason. And then in the community too. You want to underplay your darkness as much as you can. I think that's partly in the Latino culture too. Because people who look lighter and are wider are treated better. I don't know what your experience when you're growing up was but mine was certainly like distancing myself from blackness like don't wear clothes that look too black because I'm already a dark man, and you're already blurring that line, and you need to be really clear that you're not black. And that message from the Indian community was clear to me. One just within the community and family dynamics. And to within the Indian community, there's like a hierarchy of lighter-skinned Indians and darker-skinned Indians. So I felt like I didn't even fit in with the Indian community sometimes, because I was with a lot of Northern Indians, and I could feel myself feeling treated differently. I'm not sure what the source of it is. But I'd felt like I didn't fully fit in. I'm curious how that resonates with you, as you were growing up and tried to understand your blackness, right? I think it's been a journey for you. And what did that look like?



Sandra Huber:It definitely has been a journey. And it started, to be honest, about 21 years ago, when I found myself pregnant with my baby. And I just knew that I didn't want him or her to have to choose between her fault of hers, culture and my culture, or we had no idea it was a throw the dice and see what she was gonna look like. But it was worth my series journey into understanding anti-blackness and all that started because I wanted her to have a different experience than I had when I was growing up. Even though both my parents have art descendants, at some point in the diaspora of people that were enslaved in their own countries in Panama. It is so diverse, that it's really difficult sometimes to trace those roots. But I knew from the beginning, I heard, especially my dad say, you have to make sure that we improve the race that we've better the race and what that meant. If you stay in Panama, you better marry somebody that's light-skinned, because that will give your children a better chance and he was in wrong. That's the sad thing. I hated that. He said that I hated that. That was part of the construct that I came to this country with. But he wasn't wrong. And they experienced fine daughter, being the pastor says wider experience has been so much easier, so much better and less confrontational, even though she's a little bit on with an activist herself. And she's aware of her privilege, but her life has been better. Growing up, I also realized that my favorite human being was my grandmother, totally, she loved African, she was just beautiful by varying my age, African features. And, and we were very close to her. But she never came to any of the graduations and things that we did. And I never understood why until I came to the States and somebody that I befriended. That was Afro-Latina herself started telling me the story about the black grandma died in Latin American countries, we keep in the class that we don't bring out just talking about why you mentioned that distancing yourself from part of who you are, because then it makes it obvious, then you see my grandmother, then you see me, right? Coming over here and 21 or 22 years ago, starting to think how am I going I packed this because now I can do it. I'm away from my family. I can start with 23 me I can start doing all those things. But the most important thing for me was that I didn't want my child to grow up without examining some of these ideas without having those conversations. And I remember she was not even 10. When she came up to me, I'd never heard the term before "white bouncy". And she said that to me, she said that she recognized that she bas for White. And I'm thinking, oh my gosh, how do you even know that I didn't even know the term. So eventually, I joined Afro-Latinos in Seattle mass, which is exactly that an organization that supports and lifts hold the important things that Afro-Latinos that contributed to that culture into the United States. And little by little, I started realizing some of those things were living in me some of those anti-blackness messages were alive and well in me, and I needed to examine what that meant in the larger context, particularly in the work that I wanted to do. I think that I had the luxury of doing that because I had a white husband. And it was, it's weird because it was almost like he vouched for me when we weren't together. Nobody followed me to the store. Everybody was super nice. And that wasn't quite the same when I was by myself. So I started realizing that even-though I hated my dad has said, we have to make the race better by marrying up which men marrying white, that there was a part of me that was eager to come out. That's the part of the lust to dance the part that is loud the part that is fun. That part that that gets nog, who always welcome in some of this spaces. But it was easier for me because I have role models like Sadie at qudos. Rosie Perez, when I fold, Elizabeth Acevedo that were Latinas that were black and that were successful. So I thought, okay, how do I drink my energy into discovering more unpacking more, healing more, and being accountable for the times in which I was in my best self from that perspective?



Raj Sundar: Yeah, there's a lot of, I think mental health benefits when we don't have to suppress when part of our identity as being shameful, connecting with you. And this point to if I have a white person in front of me, my dark body, I'll say not to confuse with black folks, my dark body is less scary and less of a threat. If there's a white person coming along wit



Sandra Huber:It's something that is just amazing that in the popular culture, there's still that belief, whether it's subconscious or not, because it wasn't subconscious for my dad, my dad is on out there with that. But that if you marry someone lighter, they knew you have a better chance for upward mobility, you are safer. And when I finally realized that privilege that came to me the same story you are talking about, I realized that we live in a race-conscious society in the United States, and racism and colorism not only have profound effects on us and I like but it also has effects on our health. And how mental health physical health vote for me, they're all the same. But our babies are no a faring better than African American babies and doesn't matter. I have a friend who recently divorced and she took her fancy-sounding last name because she could not bear the idea of still feeling that oppression from her white ex husband. But she also recognize that it made because her first name just like mine was a relatively neutral. Her last name was German just like mine, and so many more doors were open. And it happens to me till this day. I'm talking to somebody and then we get to meet and they look at me they go, Oh, hey, and I know what that Oh, hi means is that they were expecting to meet someone that was white with the name that I have.



Sandra Huber:And they and they get so weird out and they get uncomfortable. Because they know, I know what just happened. But that's never stopped me from continuing whatever. I've never lost a job because of it. But I can see the person just like, holy Mack. I was not prepared for that. And why should it be that big of a deal? Right? But we're curious. And that's okay to be curious that you have I don't know, Jennifer sentence. Do they speak Spanish? Do they speak English? Did they marry? But I don't think about those things. But white America does. They do think about those things?



Raj Sundar:Yeah, yeah. So true. Let's see where I want to go. Next. I want to emphasize the point that black identity does not contradict latinidad identity. Talk about all the terms that have been used this present in all these countries. We're just going to talk about a few to talk about how this black attorney has been mixed with other identities that have specific names. I think people, some are pejoratives want to just say that but people have heard of mulatto right? Mixed African European ancestry. Zombot is another one African and Indigenous ancestry. Ca Fusco that's a Brazilian a for African and indigenous Mistiso so that's often used in Latin America, mixed European and indigenous identity and some African and Indigenous ancestry. And then there's so many other words like this in Nicaragua, Garifuno, Marabua and Haitian I don't know if probably, you're more familiar with these terms, but I don't know.



Sandra Huber:English within our own cultures. We fight so hard to not call someone black. And I was asking an interpreter that was going to interpret for a presentation and the individual was from South America and said Are you sure you want me to use the word black? Because we He tried to believe that at any cost and we have coffee with milk, we have morena , trigeng. I mean, do you feel like you're at the corner of a makeup store with all these different names, just to avoid saying black. And I was in a meeting a few years ago. And I just say it out loud. I am so proud of being blinds. And this woman sitting right next to me Latina from South America, and I won't say the name of the country. But she says to me, "don't say that. You're not black". And I'm looking at her like, have you met me. And she took that comment that I was putting myself down. And she had no idea what she had done wrong by saying that all that to say that we have all this general name fame, we liked all the others, but each head within the Spanish speaking culture, we have always other ways that para Malc let me just can say, black. And that's what that organization Maris has helped me to find in myself the string to be comfortable with saying "negra". I am negra. And that is not an insult, then we need to start using that word without being afraid of offending anyone.



Raj Sundar:Yeah that's an excellent point. Because either the community itself or other people external looking at the community want to use of black as terminology for people who have been historically enslaved and a history of that in North America. And we don't acknowledge the 90% of people who were brought to South America and other Latin American countries who are African of origin, who suffered through enslavement, who had fought for revolutions fought for independence, became part of the Latina community who also hold this identity of being black.



Sandra Huber:Yeah. And I think that one question that I always asked myself, when I did the 23, and me, I found out that I was pretty much even 33, 33, 33, somewhere in around 33% and European from Portugal, not even from Spain, which surprised me 33 or so African from West Africa, which that totally makes sense. And then indigenous from the area in Panama. But then you start seeing the little numbers that 1% and point 5% And it's so much wider than that. And I have actually Indian in me, I have one here.



Raj Sundar: Yeah, welcome to our community.



Sandra Huber:This greatest thing about Zion is that my great grandmother was very dark skin. But she had straight hair and he might come community my country. stray hair goes with white people and curly hair goes when dark people so there was this mystery my family how we had someone that was so dark skin, yet she had straight hair. I saw the mystery because it's because she was of South Asian descent. Her ancestors were from somewhere in India and that was so rewarding to me that it was actually a palpable a tangible thing I got out of finding out there was this mystery about where she came from and why she had the features that she had to sell even within the family. Nobody wanted to find out. Nobody wanted to know because she was dark. But it she was better because she had straight hair.



Raj Sundar:Yeah. Okay, recap. Accepting blackness identity within our individual selves of support and also within the community, not just as a prevailing sense that African ancestry is like a historical artifact at third, that holding that Afro-Latino identity also comes with discrimination and hardship that I think sometimes isn't identified personally, because you're navigating this in between space where you're either Latino or you're black, right? You have to decide or people are forcing you to decide. But we know that Afro-Latinos face higher rates of poverty and discrimination than other groups that are considered Latino have lower levels of educational attainment and political representation as well. And the Pew Research Center did a study that more Afro-Latinos than other Latinos say they have been unfairly stopped by police during the year prior to the survey. And Afro-Latinos have been criticized for speaking Spanish in public because hey, like, You shouldn't speak in Spanish anyway. Why are you doing it now? There's all these different ways I think in daily lives that you experience discrimination. I don't know how personal that sounds to you, Sandra, but just the research and surveys show that.



Sandra Huber:I think that you may find this hard to believe by before my daughter was driving, I would take her places and sometimes during the winter, pick her up, I would just park outside and wait for her to come out, I will let her know I'll be there such and such. Since before she was driving herself, I will be sitting, knitting, reading, eating something in my car in some regular neighborhood around here. And I got the police called on me twice, just because I was parked. And they deemed that I had no business just being parked there. Like one was my business. And one time, I mean, I'm falling asleep waiting for my daughter in the car, and I get this flashlight on my face. I've never been kicked over for anything other than a ticket. But that was really scary. And the guy said, I'm sorry, I have to do this to you. But the neighbors have called they want to know, what's your business around here. And this was like five years. So we're not talking about 30 or 40 years ago. And experiences like that, it just reminds me that we're not done doing the work that we need to do. I've always, of course had been polite, but but it's just that idea of having to be looking over my shoulder and trying to second guess what other people, especially in white neighborhoods, fourth, think about who I am. And when I'm doing there, and whether I have a right to be there or not. Even though in the moment I'm not hosting any danger and nating really, what am I going to go crazy with my eating noodle. That was a second time that three people did in different moments came to ask me what I was doing that I feel I don't even know that I could do that to someone, they're there. They're not doing anything, What's my problem. So it continues to be an issue to reckon with. But I think that it also helps me be more apt to when when my community goes through because I have the privilege of being a US citizen, and I can speak English and I have a car and I have a driver's license. And I have more tools to protect myself that the people in the serve house and I have a lot of respect for the stories that are shared with me because I know if with a college education and good job. Speaking English being a US citizen and all this other perks that that I see as privilege that I have, I'm still not spare the assumptions of some of my white brothers and sisters in community when they decide that I don't belong. Where I don't belong in their world, and I need to justify and explain what I'm doing.



Raj Sundar:Yeah, yeah. What has this bed for your health?



Sandra Huber:I think and that because I work in the system and I  support community in accessing health care through my job. I'm aware that Latinos tend to have health outcomes that are better than those who are their non Latino white counterparts. Even though they have lower average income and education. And I'm not sure you're familiar with what is called the Hispanic paradox. And it's a way in which Protective Factors keep us once we emigrate keeps us healthy for a certain amount of time. And I haven't watched the video in a long time, but I think it's 20 to 25 years and then we assimilate and then have all the helmet side than me this society unhealthy. But this paradox, unfortunately does not apply to offer Latinos. And studies show that Afro-Latinos have a shorter life expectancy than both their wide Latino counterparts and our non-Latino white Americans. So when I think about pregnancy of Afro-latinas being at a greater risk of experiencing preterm birth and having newborns that are low in birth weight afro-Latinos are more likely to worry about those things and reported that they're held the Cedar Fair for for, for me, the impact has been mostly from the mental health aspect, the depression and sometimes having to work 60 hours to prove that I'm good enough at what I'm doing while my counterparts are working 40 hours are having to justify wanting to have a race and that's all very stressful. And sometimes they think, Hey, you're getting a twofer here. I can speak English and I can speak Spanish. I'm like two people in one. I'm not saying. I'm thinking, this culture doesn't appreciate and value those things. And when the only way that he works, which is weighed really heavy on me for many years is that tokenism that instead of developing a relationship with the community you want to know more about, they pick me or someone else that is an easy way of communicating, never going back to community never wanting to do a relationship with community just mining for information. And that has been really difficult because I've had to make hard decisions about their offering this much money. And I know this money could mean mammograms, or it could mean pap smears for my community. But I had to swallow the idea that I have to be the going-between. So what started happening was I started saying, No, you want to do this, survey this study this, whatever, you're gonna have to come down, you're gonna have to introduce yourself, and I will be the person it's like inviting somebody to your home, you don't just march in and say I'm here, give me what you have, and then leave, you just don't do it that way and trying to train academia and the healthcare system, that there is value in developing those relationships. And the more I bring those in the community that are identify as leaders in the way we identify leadership, and then bring to the table even five to walk some of that road with them. It's helped me because I can't speak for every Afro Latina race, or every Latino, and it's a huge responsibility when community says, Could you please sit at this table at this board or whatever, because we need to help. It's a huge responsibility. And I don't take it lightly. But I think we won't move forward, unless we bring everyone and if you have to give me an interpreter, you get an interpreter. But then that proves to me that there is interest on doing that. But it's been really difficult, especially when we're talking about her undocumented brothers and sisters, and how those of us who can easily be kicked out of the country can step up and be front and center to link those ideas to move that equity forward. Because I cannot ask someone who's undocumented, working three jobs barely speaks English to be at the front of the line protesting for what is right? And what is theirs? So all that has an impact on my mental health, what I can do and how much I can do it, because we're talking about people, you're not making little widgets or a door knob. Sure. These are people's lives we're talking about.



Raj Sundar:Thanks for sharing all that. I maybe my follow up question to that is, have you had a good experience, where you can even talk about a bad experience when somebody in the health care system hasn't acknowledged your Afro-Latino identity? I don't even know what that looks like. But I'm curious from you, wanting to be seen and known and the way you want to someone's has done that especially well, Or in badly as a counterpoint. So we don't do that.



Sandra Huber:I think that curiosity is something that I always appreciate. And maybe it's just because I have an amazing support team and my family, and through our providers. And we're very careful who we choose and think that I have been part of the push to change the survey information, the demographic information that is requested and how we disaggregate some things. I'm seeing a lot of changes. I think, I don't have a whole lot of negatives, because I'm a good advocate for myself, but I do remember, and it was just so confusing, because I love this nurse, and now with one of my providers a few years ago. And we were talking about using certain kind of needles, and I love her and and she loves me, we known each other for a long time. And she says to me, when I asked her give me a baby needle, because I'm not in the mood today to report to her. And she says, you know how diaries or something to that effect show that the black people have thicker skin so they don't need to and they don't feel the pain or something like that. And I stopped there. And I do not know what to say because I love this woman and I know she loves me, and I don't know where the heck she got that from. But then, not even a month later, I was at a race conference and Dr. Ben Daniels send an eye door, talked about all those things about how we are giving less pain medication when we go to the emergency room, and I was just done and I didn't know what to say cuz I came out of left field, and I didn't say anything, I froze. And all I could do was it took like months before I got the nerve to find an article about demystifying those things. And I just faxed it. I couldn't even because I'm just thinking this is gonna ruin it. Because what else have you not told me? Oh my God, I didn't know that was even a thing. And then Dr. Daniels' son had Oh, listen to them. And I'm like, oh, in G, these people go to medical school, and it's 2022 or 20, whatever. And we're still passing on those meds, I can tell you my skin is not any thicker than anybody else's. And I am a big baby. So I just didn't know what to do. I think that was probably the most some comfortable, and I was not my best self. Because what I would have done if he hadn't been in the situation that it was certainly she's gonna poke me I better not make her mad. But I'm thinking how do I even, how do I even start this conversation? But other than that is been really good. And one experience I had last year that I thought was really good was when I went to get mammogram, my mother had been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in 2021. She did excellent. It's full recovered. But when a recorded that, the information, the woman said, now that you have shared that as a black Latina, and she explained to me where my numbers,  what was my risk because of that, as a matter of fact, like she recognized that it was important that I knew that because I was just like, when I did it, I was just thinking, I'm so lucky, my mother survived. And I'm not thinking about what the impact is on my own health. And she was very kind she called some way to double check that her numbers were right. So she's you can miss any mammograms you can be labeled, but in a way that she honored that he wasn't a liability that I was black and Latina, but that I needed to have the facts in that felt really good.



Raj Sundar:That's good. That's a good example. Thank you, Sandra. Anything else? You feel it'd be sad that we haven't said or talked about?



Sandra Huber: Think I told you more than that. I think that the medical community does this disservice to their students and future medical staff when they go on to have this context, this information to rely upon. And it's not fair to expect every doctor to know every culture and to know the difference. We don't know. But I think curiosity and asking it the person pulled Latino, how do you like me to refer to you? Latina, Latine, Latinx, Afro-Latina and to get a little curious about what's important to them. And what culture is important to know about that, for example, a doctor asked me once, why do you always carry your kids everywhere? In general? We feel that we wanted his children, why would we be leaving them with anyone else or our responsibility? So they go everywhere with us. But I really appreciated that he wasn't judgmental, he was curious. So he could understand why he goes to to take care of this woman, and there's three children and a baby with them. And instead of going, Oh my God, Why could they just leave the kids? I don't understand the why, as an example, why we do that, then that takes time to and patience and grace. And I and I think that it will be important, like information like this, it's important to have so you have a little bit of contacts. And just like we do, we know, we know different cultures and different ways of doing things, because that's what you need to do to survive.



Raj Sundar: Yeah, that's a good takeaway point. And I like to call out, sometimes curiosity gets a negative perception, because people think of curiosity as the question of what are you? I think there's a type of curiosity that exists to satisfy your own thirst for knowledge and putting people into boxes, and another type of curiosity, so you understand somebody better to care for them. And I think that intentionalty really comes out the way you ask the questions, what type of questions you're asking. So making sure you don't dismiss curiosity and start judging people because you're worried about it. Asking about people's identity.



Sandra Huber: And making assumptions is the most dangerous thing in medicine, I think or anything for that matter, because you would give them that person what you think they need based on an assumption, but if you knew that their grandmother was African may be there questions that you would ask that you wouldn't ask someone that doesn't have that background? So I think it all comes together in this service, I know you have 15 minutes to get to know this person. It's not easy, but being prepared and knowing what you want to know, will save you some time.



Raj Sundar: Yeah. Thanks for coming on the show.



Sandra Huber: Thank you so much. This was a lot of fun. Thank you for for considering me and you have any other questions you know where to find me.



Raj Sundar: Thanks again everyone for joining me on another episode of Healthcare for humans. If you liked this episode, as always, I  ask to you please share it with one other person so they can also hear it. I'll see you next time.



Speaker 3: This podcast is intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. Views and opinions expressed in this podcast do not represent any of the participants past, current or future employers unless explicitly expressed so. Always seek advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with regards to your own personal questions about what medical conditions you may be experiencing. This Healthcare for Humans project is based on Duwamish land that makes a regular commitment to Real Rental Duwamish.


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