20 pages 40 minutes read

Elizabeth Acevedo


Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2015

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Poem Analysis

Analysis: “Afro-Latina”

“Afro-Latina” explores personal identity as it relates to language, culture, and history, and the speaker puzzles out what it means to be both Latina and Black. She announces her identity by proclaiming herself “Afro-Latina” (Line 1), a word that is both Spanish and English and describes a person of African descent who is from a Spanish-speaking culture.

While “Afro-Latina” (Line 1) is how the speaker identifies herself, the word’s function in these opening lines is also more general and connotes, for example, the late celebrated singer Celia Cruz (whose lyrics appear in Lines 6-7). Lines 1-4 seamlessly shift between Spanish and English within and between lines. For example, the speaker proclaims that this Afro-Latina has a “[s]alsa swagger / anywhere she go / como” (Lines 3-5); together, the English “go” (Line 3) and the Spanish “como” (Line 4) form a rhyme that encompasses an Afro-Latina’s walk and grace.

The speaker describes Spanish as “a gift” (Line 17) that becomes a burden in the rough-and-tumble world of United States schools. The Spanish of her mother was “eh brokee inglee” (Line 32), a phonetic representation of “the broken English” of a person speaking Spanish-inflected English. As a young person, the speaker internalized her peers’ racist disdain, a dynamic Acevedo symbolizes with food—fast

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By Elizabeth Acevedo