How Yo Soy Afro Latina Was Bianca Kea's Chance to Build Community
Growing up not seeing anyone that looks like you can be an extremely isolating feeling.
It is something that founder and CEO of lifestyle brand Yo Soy Afro Latina, Bianca Kea, grew up experiencing prior to moving from her native Detroit, Michigan, to the Big Apple.
In an interview with Alicia Menendez on Latina to Latina, the entrepreneur notes how her initial goal was to create a space where others who looked like her could share their unique experiences and feel seen.
Kea tells Menendez, "In the Midwest, I really felt like I was the only Afro-Latina, and I knew that couldn't be true. And so when I moved to New York, I was like, 'Okay, wow, there's a ton of us.'"
She continues, "But I still just felt like my world was really small, and I was just like, 'There has to be more of us.' That's what I kept thinking, there has to be more. So I just started an Instagram page, in hopes of connecting with other girls all around the world, just to hear their experience, hear how they grew up and how they're just embracing their identity."
"And it really helped when I moved to L.A. In L.A., there was a ton of Blacks, Mexicans and whites. So, it almost felt like I was back in Detroit. So that was another push to be like, 'Okay, you should really create something,'" Kea details.
The Afro-Latina entrepreneur notes that she would see a variety of reactions and conversations on her account.
Kea explains, "A lot of themes, and this is relevant to this day, a lot of themes that I hear are people who feel like they're slow to embrace their Afro-Latinidad, because maybe they grew up with their parent who identifies as Black, and they don't speak the language. Or they're not too familiar with their Latina culture."
"There's just so many things where they're like, 'Yeah, I didn't know I could identify as Afro-Latina.' Or they have the opposite experience where they're like, 'I am Afro-Latina, but I'm really light skinned and my hair is really loose, so I've always felt like… I can't really identify as Afro-Latina,'" she added.
Regardless of how they felt, Kea notes that everyone was just grateful to have a community and space where they could have these types of conversations.
"So, there's a lot of vulnerability and being like, 'Thank you so much for creating this space. I'm still navigating it, but I just appreciate that I can come to your page,' or 'I appreciate that I can share your page with my kids who are trying to learn how to embrace their identity,' which is very important to me because that's all I ever wanted as a child. I just wanted to feel like I was not the only one," she affirms.