Blaxicans of L.A. is a collaborative ethnographic photography project I founded in 2015 alongside scholar Walter Thompson-Hernandez. I contributed research, photography, and project direction with the goal of amplifying stories and visibility by multiracial Black-Mexicans and Afro-Latinxs in the Los Angeles area. Here are photographs I produced with excerpts of the interviews I conducted. Thank you to journalist Ebony Bailey for providing contributing to this project as well. Instagram account @BlaxicansofLA
“When I was young I was teased and told I wasn’t Black because I was Mexican. I think that is something that stuck with me and affected my identity. The first time I heard the term Blaxican I thought “Finally a term to describe me!” It is a term more specific to my experience. The culture was there but I felt different from my Black and Latino friends. I felt like something in the middle.” — Tianna Nicole
“A lot of people ask me if I am from New York. I feel like Black Latino people are probably mostly associated as being from the east coast. People either think you are from Miami or New York. That happens to me a lot.” … “I make it a point to say I am both Black and Mexican. I identify as Black but I don’t disassociate with Mexican. In this country if you are a half, quarter, or quadroon then you are considered black. There is a color banner that people fall into.” — Matt Gamon
“I feel like Especially in LA there is this view that there is one type of Latino person. If you are Brown there is not a hint of Black or anything else. You are just brown. In some ways I wasn’t really accepted and people would say, “You are clearly Black and not Latino.” — Alexandra
“In hip hop music there is Cypress Hill and NWA and they are strong behind their race and I am both of them. I learned a lot of Mexican culture through Mexican hip hop. Brothers get a lot of their style from Cholos. That’s why it’s weird that there is so much racial tension in California when we are really in the same communities and gravitate towards each other. I definitely am for the end of Black and Mexican violence. I am going to continue to spread that message through my music.” — M.E.D.
“My Father is Mexican and my Mother is Black. I think sometimes society wants to make you feel that if you are multiracial, you are divided but from my experience I have always been embraced and respected. People will think I am Dominican or Puerto Rican and I am always so proud to correct them because there is a difference. I think being multiracial is very normal. I grew up eating chilaquiles and listening to Ezequiel Peña. My mother is a strong black woman. She would tell me “Black is beautiful.” Growing up, I was trying to find myself and I would dim one side of me to appease people but as I got older, I decided that if Black people don’t think I am Black enough or Mexican people don’t think I am Mexican enough then I don’t care. This is me. I love me.” — Daisha
“I grew up in Los Angeles. My husband is Mexican-American. I am not sure how she will identify when she grows up. It is truly going to be up to her. I want her to speak Spanish so she can have full access to that culture. It will be obvious once she gets in the first or second grade that mommy is black and dad is Mexican. It will be a discussion that we will have with her. Being mixed, her experience compounds even more. Black is so much, it is just as diverse as being Latina.” — Jasmine, mother of Mila