Exploring Intersectionality: Afro-Latino Identity by Missy McConnell, Lower School Librarian

In St. Mary's Academy grade 4 and grade 5 classes, Señora McCall, Lower School Spanish Teacher, recently introduced students to the topic of intersectionality, that is, bridging more than one world with multiple identities. Students watched engaging video interviews that shared the lived experience of individuals who identify as Latino and Black. After watching, students shared their observations, ideas, and questions. 

Students explored the idea of ethnicity versus race, how some people make assumptions based on the way a person looks, and reflected on the perceptions of others based on cultural standards of beauty. Students discussed the advantages and challenges of living in both worlds as a “double minority”, while not feeling fully accepted by either one. 

“Just ask someone, instead of assuming what they are. Not understanding the heritage of another person and not trying to understand them is rude. It’s rude to assume that you know more about someone than they know about themselves!” one fourth grade student commented. 

“It is hard to never assume things about people,” another student acknowledged.

“I think people assume more because they don’t know about the culture or identity of a person instead of trying to be rude.” Another student said, “People should learn more about each other before judging each other.”

Students also discussed the common assumption that if someone is Latino they must be from Mexico. Señora McCall shared an experience of when she had first moved to the United States from Chile, and someone invited her to eat tacos. She had never eaten a taco before, and the person thought since she spoke Spanish, of course she would have experience eating tacos. She explained that this type of assumption happens quite often. 

“I am really impressed and interested in your ideas and thoughts,” Señora McCall encouraged. “You are a generation that will change our society, which is why all of this is so important.”