Nelson German, the chef and owner of alaMar, a seafood restaurant in Oakland, remembers the day a Black family asked a staffer about the Black owner they had heard about.
“This isn’t a Black-owned restaurant,” he recalled the staffer telling the family. “This is a Dominican-owned restaurant.” Hearing about that interaction was a turning point for German.
As a Black Dominican American, German, 41, realized he hadn’t done enough to educate those around him about his Blackness and the importance of it. “We are Black. We are part of the African diaspora. We just speak Spanish,” German said. “The African continent influenced the world. We should embrace that, and really give tribute to it now, because there’s a lot of people who had to shed their blood and sacrifice their lives for us to be in this position. We should show them some respect.”
“So, I always say Afro Latino,” he said. German finds himself fielding numerous requests during Black History Month for interviews, cooking demos and lectures to talk about his African roots. The same thing now happens during Hispanic Heritage Month, a trend he welcomes. Many Latinos who identify as Black or of African descent have felt sidelined in broader discussions of race and ethnicity. In recent years, advocates and scholars have called for […]