'Negrita' Documentary: Empowering a Community by Sharing the Stories of Afro-Latinas
Dominican Magdalena Albizu coined the term "Nubian Latina," a phrase that actively celebrates her blackness and visibly addresses her Latino ethnicity. Accepted as a "light-skinned" person in the African American community and recognized as Dominican at home, Albizu decided to write and direct a documentary, entitled "Negrita," which investigates skin color and racial declaration and explores the often dichotomized "black" or "Hispanic" understandings.
Beyond being a decided "skin color," blackness in America is an experience and an identity felt outside of the African American community by those with African ancestry. For Latinos who are racially Black, this can manifest in a number of ways: consciousness, awareness, recognition, dismissal, shame or pride.
Negrita, the Spanish term from which the documentary gains its title, means little black girl, and the word has both has positive and negative connotations. Numerous women featured in the preliminary footage stated that the word can be used offensively; but, generally, the word is used with cariño or affection. For example, "Oh, my black girl... my love." This jollier sentiment was the one that led to the term being borrowed by Albizu, producer Ingrid Matias, and the director of photography Donovan Lambert.
"'Negrita' was conceived from my own personal journey of validation as an Afro-Latina. Offering 'Negrita' as a platform for other Afro-Latinas to present their own stories, I am excited to learn about how other women have dealt with the same issues of identity that I have dealt with growing up," Albizu said. "Everyone, regardless of race or culture, has an innate curiosity about their roots which shapes the ebb and flow of self-identification throughout the years. As a conduit for education and discussion, 'Negrita' aims to create a healthy sense of pride and self-awareness for both Latinas and non-Latinas encouraging everyone to break free from the social expectations of their own culture, build self-esteem, and define their own identity."
Nationality is recognized in the Latino community over racial makeup, "trumping it," according to Albizu. That said, reassuring women that it’s okay to be both black and Latina is an important lesson to teach to thousands of women struggling with their identities, particularly as they come of age in America.
As part of their research and development, the "Negrita" team has shot 20 hours of footage, conducting preliminary interviews with Afro-Latinas in New York. With proper funding, they plan to begin a casting search for three main characters on the West Coast, Southwest, and Midwestern regions of the U.S. Principal photography is scheduled to begin in September 2014.
Currently, "Negrita" is pushing to raise $50,000 in 50 days, in order to cover production and travel expenses for the crew so that they "can present stories of a community whose voice would otherwise be left unheard."
So far, they are 5 percent funded on their Indiegogo campaign, where they've received worldwide support, but they are still a long way from meeting their $50K goal before their campaign ends on June 10. They are asking that individual to donate $1, $5, $10 or $100, all donations going toward helping to "empower a community."