What does Cocoa Boricua have to do with fashion and beauty? I get side eyed all the time when I tell people the name of my blog. Some think I’m doing the most or picking one ethnicity over the other, and that’s not the case at all. I decided to name my blog The Cocoa Boricua because that’s who I am.
Growing up in Humboldt Park in Chicago the majority of the people are Puerto Rican with a small community of Blacks that live in Humboldt and Wicker Park. In elementary school sometimes I was the only Black girl with kinky curly natural hair in a room filled with Spanish speaking, pale and tan silky wavy hair kids. Some of my teachers and classmates were mean and prejudice just because of the color of my skin and the texture of my ponytails. I struggled with self esteem growing up in elementary, but when I got to high school I became resilient. As a little girl I thought I needed to have silky smooth hair, a petite shape, light skin and speak Spanish to be considered beautiful and a part of the community. As a child I wrote in journals and loved looking in magazines. There wasn’t anyone who looked like me in Seventeen or Teen Vogue in the nineties.
I was the first Black and Puerto Rican child to both my maternal and paternal families. Even though I look like both sides of my family (because they are all of African descent); no one was struggling with finding and identifying themselves with two ethnicities. No one was throwing around the term Afro-Latino in the nineties. No one in my life at least. It wasn’t until I got to college and started researching things on my own that I found out the truth about Africans in Latin America during the slave trade. We can thank Henry Louis Gates Jr. and his documentaries about being Black in the Americas.
Even without the knowledge and a representation of someone who identified and looked like me in mainstream media, I enjoyed and lived for magazines as a little girl. I still do! My aunts kept Essence, Ebony and Jet magazines in the house and they still do. I loved looking through the glossies (magazines) and admiring the brown girls dressed to the nines, but guess what? Not many were natural and there wasn’t a plus size or full figured section back then. We have those things now and I’m grateful for the inclusion. However, there’s still many people who are ignorant of the fact that people like me exist.
That’s why I created this blog. I want to encourage the people who look like me (natural, brown, plus size, intelligent and fabulous) to see their own beauty. I’m here to be the woman I needed to see and hear from when I was growing up. That’s why I named the blog The Cocoa Boricua. People need to know and see the beautiful Black Puerto Rican.
It’s my dream to be the actual girl in the magazine, on the TV, in the front row seat of the fashion show working on behalf of all the people who identify with me. That’s why it’s The Cocoa Boricua.