In the United States, we tend to think and divide race in two: Black and White. But when two races and ethnicities combine, it provides a stronger meaning of what culture is.
Interracial marriages and mixed children in America are growing as nine percent of multiracial babies rose since 1970.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez, a Stanford graduate, and researcher with the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at USC, created a multicultural and social project to share and showcase the biracial experience of being Afro-Latino in Los Angeles, California: “Blaxicans of LA.”
“Most multiracial experiences are really spoken about in this black and white land, and so Blaxicans to me, really allows us to see that being mixed or being multiracial is not just a homogenous experience; It's incredibly diverse and there are sets of challenges and practices that accompany that,” he said.
Hernandez-Thompson’s personal story and appreciation for photography inspired him to document and share his, and other stories of what it's like to be Black and Latino in LA.
“I’ve always really appreciated photography and the impact and power that it has on how we view ourselves and how we view the environment that we exist in,”he said.
He experienced his Latino culture for most of his childhood while living in Huntington Park, a predominantly Mexican populated area. It wasn’t until he was 8-years-old that he was exposed to more of his African-American culture when he and his family moved to Venice. His mother is Mexican, and was born in Jalisco, Mexico, while his father is African American, and born in Oakland, California.
Hernandez-Thompson struggled with a sense of belonging because of racial riots between African Americans and Latinos at his high school in Venice. But as he grew up and was surrounded by both sides of his cultures, he overcame, and found deep appreciation, understanding, and meaning for who he is.
“Being bi-racial doesn’t mean you have to pick between either or, you can be all of that. If you're multiracial and you’re African American, and you’re White, you can say, “I’m African American and I’m white.” You don’t have to say I’m mixed,” he said.
The Blaxicans of LA project is displayed on Instagram and Tumblr @BlaxicansofLA, where he shares some of his personal stories as well as other Afro-Latin experiences.
“Its really not about like, 'we’re waving this flag, we’re Blaxican, this is who we are, and its our turn to eat at the table,' It's much more broader than that. It’s not about identity politics, but what this [project] is really about, this is a very human experience, and I think ultimately that’s the biggest take away.”