“Latinidad Is Cancelled”: Confronting an Anti-Black Construct.

Tatiana Flores
“Latinidad Is Cancelled”: Confronting an Anti-Black Construct. Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture (2021) 3 (3): 58–79.

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Ben & Jerry’s released a widely lauded statement—“We Must Dismantle White Supremacy: Silence Is NOT an Option”— avowing their commitment to anti-racism.1 In it, the ice cream company categorically reaffirmed support for Black Lives Matter; named the following victims of racial violence: “Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jr.”; and called for policy changes aimed at achieving the nation’s promise of justice for all. Overall, it was an admirable gesture that stood in stark contrast to all the responses that fell short, especially those from museums and art institutions. Foregrounding the history of the United States, however, the statement exhibited a notable blind spot as a result of its ethnocentrism. “What happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis,” it declared, “is the fruit borne of toxic seeds planted on the shores of our country in Jamestown in 1619, when the first enslaved men and women arrived on this continent.”
On the one hand, it should go without saying that the United States is not a continent (and neither was
it a country in 1619), and it is disappointing that the company’s public relations team did not catch this error. On the other hand, and more importantly, African enslaved peoples were brought to the Americas over half a millennium ago, and their point of entry was the island of Hispaniola, in what is today the Dominican Republic. As Michel-Rolph Trouillot has noted, “Enslaved Africans worked and died in the Caribbean a century before the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia.”