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All I Knew Were Black and Brown People Who Spoke Spanish....

My name is Ariana Baerga.

I was born and raised in the Bronx. My parents, Edgardo and Leonice came to the states from Puerto Rico for a "better life."

Growing up, I identified with being a Latina/ Boricua one hundred percent. My family are descendants from the Tainos, something we were taught to be very proud of. I was the first generation in my family to be born in the states.

We spoke Spanish at home, ate arroz con gandules, listened to El Gran Combo and I didn't know English until we learned it in school. All I knew were black and brown people who spoke Spanish. It was my normal. It wasn't until I moved to the south when I was 16years old. People would look at me weird and in awe if I spoke Spanish or said it was my first language. I would always be asked "Wow! Where did you learn Spanish?" My response would always be "from my parents." Then I would ask them in the most sarcastic, overly excited, and impressed voice, "WOW! Where did you learn English?" All of that was done in an effort to relay how silly the question can sound. It took me many years of growing up and realizing not everyone is aware and knowledgeable about Latin/Hispanic culture.

Now when people ask, I use it as an opportunity to enlighten them and teach them. I tell them about how slaves were brought from Africa to Puerto Rico. How Africa influenced Puerto Rico's music, food, culture on the island today. I tell them about Juan Garrido and his quests. I tell them about the thing I am SO very proud of being. A Black Latina!

Now when I'm asked it's more like "I'm a Blatina. What's your superpower?" (Hmmm... next t-shirt? "Ariana Baerga edition" )

I'm so thankful for outlets like #BWTGH because Blatinas/os are everywhere and its something to be proud of. I carry being a Blatina into my everyday life.

I'm an actor. My first feature film I booked, the director wanted a GENUINE Blatina! How wonderful is that!?!? From then on its been one of my goals to fulfill similar roles and remind the acting world that we are here and we exist.

My advice to anyone about understanding who you are is to own it. - Ariana

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