Colombians are known for their resilience. Black Colombian women tend to have lots of it, as their environments usually keep them in underprivileged social conditions. These are some of those women leading their communities in the pursuit of equality in Colombia.
Black women in Colombia today
According to Afro Colombian former culture minister Paula Moreno (2020), black women in Latin America display stunning overcoming abilities despite the many challenges they face, such as poverty, violence, and lack of representation in most social spheres.
In Colombia, people of color remain invisible in many settings. But during recent decades, they have accessed education and training like never before. As a result, they are increasingly entering key places like companies, government entities, and education institutions (Moreno, 2020).
For Moreno (2020), Black Colombian women are leading the agenda in academia, media, and the public and private sector. However, things still prove difficult. Esperanza Biohó, director of the Colombia Negra foundation, says people in Colombia discriminate against black women for being black, poor, and female (Senado de la República, 2020).
Additionally, they hypersexualize them, Afro youth leader Evelin Asprilla says. She points out Black womenalso face low access to higher education and formal jobs. Moreover, they experience internal displacement and cultural uprooting due to the country’s armed conflict (Senado de la República, 2020).
Black Colombian women fighting for their rights
Many Black Colombian women dedicate their lives to achieving equality and better overall conditions for their peers and communities.
Danelly Estupiñán leads an Afro Colombian group working to preserve Buenaventura’s black community’s human rights. The Pacific town has been relentlessly hit by violence for decades. They believe much of it stems from structural racism and economic interests around the port town. Perpetrators target local women using sexual violence and murder to intimidate the population and control the territory (Amnistía Internacional, 2020).
Nearby, in Cali, Erlendy Cuero works to help Afro Colombian displaced people. Back in 2000, she and her family were forced to leave Buenaventura themselves (Amnistía Internacional, 2020).
Environment activist and presidential hopeful Francia Márquez also went to Cali after receiving death threats for combating the environmental and social effects of intensive illegal mining in her hometown of La Toma, Cauca. Before, she had managed to get national authorities to suspend AngloGold Ashanti’s mining concessions in black communities’ ancestral lands there (Amnistía Internacional, 2020).
Black Colombian women in culture
Historically, black women have also fought for recognition in the arts for them and their peers (López, 2020):
- Artist and cultural researcher Delia Zapata promoted the folklore of Colombia’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts.
- María Teresa Gómez is one of Colombia’s most important pianists.
- Writer Teresa Martínez de Varela pioneered the introduction of African identity into Colombia’s literary landscape.
Black women in Colombia stand up for their communities. From environmental activists to political and cultural leaders, they never cease to fight for their rights.
Amnistía Internacional. (2020). Las mujeres afrocolombianas que arriesgan su vida por defender sus comunidades. https://www.amnesty.org/es/latest/news/2020/01/afro-colombian-women-risking-lives-defend-communities/
López, N. (2020). Ocho mujeres afrocolombianas que marcaron la historia del país. Radio Nacional de Colombia. https://www.radionacional.co/cultura/historia-colombiana/ocho-mujeres-afrocolombianas-que-marcaron-la-historia-del-pais
Moreno, P. (2020). El poder de las mujeres negras. ¿Y si hablamos de igualdad? Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo. https://blogs.iadb.org/igualdad/es/poder-de-las-mujeres-negras/
Senado de la República. (2020). Mujeres afro señalan que son discriminadas por ‘negras, por pobres y por ser mujeres’. https://www.senado.gov.co/index.php/prensa/noticias/2338-mujeres-afro-senalan-que-son-discriminadas-por-negras-por-pobres-y-por-ser-mujeres