Written by: Javier Orellana Ostorga, Cisneros Class of 2025
This year's Women History Month theme is “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” meant to acknowledge the contributions of women in healing and promoting hope within our society. ALIANZA hopes to turn this theme inward, and promote healing to the Afro-Latina community at GW. From the more than 450 student organizations at GW, ALIANZA is the first Afro-Latina organization that advocates for the recognition of Afro-Latina culture, while also providing professional development and self-care.
Last month, I had the opportunity to interview Stephanie Animdee and talk about ALIANZA, Afro-Latinadad, famous Afro-Latina figures, and Afro-Latina music. Stephanie is the secretary of ALIANZA, studying international affairs with a concentration in Latin America affairs, and someone who identifies as a proud Afro-Latina.
Javier Orellana Ostorga: When was ALIANZA founded and by whom? What was the reason it was founded?
Stephanie Animdee: ALIANZA started during the 2019-2020 school year. One notable member is Nadia but it was created by a group of upper-class students who were Afro-Colombian, Haitian, Garifuna Honduran, and Afro-Ecuadorian. They did not feel represented on campus, especially attending a white institution where there was not much representation for those who identify as Afro-Latina. As a result of that, they decided to create GWs first woman's Afro-Latina organizations with the support of others like Casablanca, LATAM, OLAS.
Javier: What is ALIANZA’s vision statement?
Stephanie: ALIANZA aims to foster sisterhood, professional development, and to bring awareness of the term Afro-Latinidad. ALIANZA also aims to educate international students or those who may not be exposed to Afro-Latinas but want to know more about the culture...especially now that Afro-Latina celebrities like Amara La Negra, LALA and Celia Cruz have been receiving so much recognition for their contributions to the Afro-Latina/o community.
Javier: What is unique about ALIANZA?
Stephanie: ALIANZA is one of the more inclusive orgs. Some of our members have been from Spain, Equatorial Guinea, the Philippines, the US, South America, the Caribbean, Central America, and the African continent. ALIANZA combines the best of both worlds. It's like this beautiful fusion of two beautiful cultures.
Javier: What are some of the events ALIANZA promotes?
Stephanie: During Black History Month, we had an event of beauty and makeup trends. Five people won free beauty stuff from an Afro-Latina makeup company. In the Latina and African community is common that we have a popular makeup look, mascara, black or the brown lip liner with the lip gloss. Another event we do is paint and sip where we recreate art from various Latino artists like Frida Kahlo. Another event we do for International Women's Day with other organizations is highlighting famous Afro Latinas in history. Finally, there is a big event where we gather with other Afro-Latino orgs in the area such as Howard University, the University of Maryland, and Georgetown.
Javier: What is ALIANZA aiming to accomplish in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement?
Stephanie: Our goal is to gain more representation for Afro-Latinas and change the narrative of what every Latino looks like. Latinos come in so many beautiful shades, colors, and different communities. There are people that whenever you have someone who identifies as Afro-Latina is like what do you mean Afro-Latina? You cannot just say you are Black or Latina? Many Afro Latinos have to pick a side. It should not be like that. I had this friend growing up, and she was half Puerto Rican, half Dominican and people would be like, oh, no, you are Dominican. Oh, no, you are Puerto Rican. She was a Puerto Rican-Dominican person. In my case, I identify as black and Latina because it is who I am.
Javier: What would ALIANZA tell those who might feel insecure about identifying themselves as Afro-Latina/o?
Stephanie: I would say on behalf of ALIANZA, just keep your head up, be proud of who you are, and embrace it. You come from the best of both worlds. As an Afro-Latina/o, you can go to abuelita’s house to eat some Latin food, and you can also go to your grandma's place in like Nigeria and have amazing food. Anyone feeling insecure about their Afro-Latinidad embody it because it is beautiful. Afro-Latinos/as are unique. It's who you are and who you will always be for the rest of your life.
Javier: What are your top three Afro-Latinx songs that you would like people to check out?
1) Insecure by Amara La Negra.
2) La Vida Es Un Carnaval by Celia Cruz.
3) Soila Baila by Rumba Sabrosa Dieguin.
Ways to become involved with ALIANZA:
1) Follow @ALIANZAGW on Instagram
2) Join ALIANZA on GW ENGAGE
3) ALIANZA’s email [email protected]
Javier Orellana Ostorga is a first-year Cisneros Scholar majoring in Political Science. He is from Annapolis, MD and originally from El Salvador. Javier’s views are his own and not necessarily reflective of the Cisneros Institute.
This interview has been edited from its original audio.