June 18, 2018 AT 10:42 AM EDT

For a long time, Black Latinos have had a hard time with their identity, not only with themselves, but to the rest of society. Stereotypes surrounding Latinidad have largely erased the experiences of millions of Latinos who have African roots. Scholars like professor Marta Moreno Vega, the founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, have worked to change the narrative that Latinos can’t be Black.

“Since the beginning of the 15th century, you have African presence, throughout [the Americas],” says Moreno Vega. “We have always been present as Afrolatinos, African descendants.”

Moreno Vega has been instrumental in coining the term Afrolatino, which describes a Latin American person who has African ancestry. The debate surrounding this term was the focus of a conversation moderated by CHICA Executive Editor Shirley Velasquez with professor Marta Moreno Vega. The panel also included Melody Capote, deputy director at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, and Dasha Harris, filmmaker behind Negro and co-founder of Afrolatino Travel. The conversation touched upon the historical context of the term “Afrolatino,” the work institutions such as the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute have done to change the conversation, and its manifestations within the community.

“As we have these open conversations, people are beginning to understand their history,” said Moreno Vega. “This is why it’s important to start acting upon that terminology.”

Watch the conversation above and take our survey to help us know more about the Afrolatino community. We want to hear from you!

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