'D'QUE LATINO' Is the Family-Friendly Afro-Latinx Sitcom We've Been Waiting For

Taking place in the South Bronx, this small local show 'para toda la familia' is centering the Afro-Latinx experience and ready to make a big impact.

Cast of DQue Latino against a parents purple background
Photo: Courtesy of Subject

For many, gathering around the TV to watch a light-hearted film or sitcom brings up warm memories — and can spark much-needed conversations among family. Though these discussions can range, from navigating new environments and handling peer-pressure to advocating for oneself, for Latinx audiences identity is a leading topic. However, even Latinx-centered shows maintain a common oversight: Afro-Latinx representation.

Author Sulma Arzu-Brown has seen firsthand the impact of Afro-Latinx erasure in Latinx media, which is why she has dedicated so much of her work to shaping a more inclusive world for Afro-Latinxs, and the larger Black diaspora, through her sitcom, D'QUE LATINO. Slated to be the "first Afro-Latino TV series in our nation" D'QUE LATINO is a family-friendly show centering the Amigo family. It follows Jenni (Jenelle Simone Valle), Roberto (Fidel Vicioso), Anita (Jazlyn "Jazzy" Guerra) and Mari (Nia Thompson) who live in the South Bronx, a borough where 56.4% of residents identify as Hispanic/Latinx and 43.6% report they're Black/African American. Loosely centered on her own, Hunts Point, Bronx-based family, Arzu-Brown, a Garifuna woman from Honduras, is redefining the way most viewers see an intergenerational, Latinx family.

"I want people to be able to see the Black Latino experience," says the creator of D'QUE LATINO.

Of the 62.1 million Latinxs living in the United States, roughly 6 million adults identify as Afro-Latinx. Furthermore, a recent Nielsen report on U.S. Latinxs highlights the rise in Afro-Latinxs vocalizing their pride and celebrating their African ancestry on social media has led producers, content developers and studios to "recognize the need for increased visibility of Afro-Latinos on screen."

With the glaring void in television, Arzu-Brown is prime to fill that spot — sprinkling in her own experiences, as well as ones that many Afro-Latinxs can relate to. Our racial identity brings up a number of questions, she notes. "When people look at me, they might say, d'que Latina, like [she's] supposedly Latina, but I'm not really sure because she's Black." Hence, the writer felt the Dominican colloquialism, also written as dique — meaning apparently, was a perfect pairing with Latino, embodying the anti-Black racism Afro-Latinxs face because of their race.

The author of Bad Hair Does Not Exist/Pelo Malo No Existe and My Hair Comes With Me – Shifting the Paradigm of What Success Looks Like doesn't skirt away from taking on topics like texturism. During a dramatized reading of episode one, which was produced by Freedom Studios, directed by Luis Caballero and co-written by Victor Cruz, an audience watched as Tia Cecile, played by Rhina Valentin, tugs at Anita's naturally curly hair while referring to it as "pelo malo." That moment, alongside a salon scene (where a relaxer is burning the scalp of a young girl) and the character Jenni's natural hair journey, was very intentional. This will resonate with anyone who has had a loved one make harmful remarks about their natural hair, or a loved ones. Such was the case with Arzu-Brown's eldest daughter Suleni who inspired Pelo Malo No Existe.

"Hair is such a bonding experience, especially in our Black diasporic community. It tells us about our ancestors," she says. "It tells us the story of who we are."

In addition to having the opportunity to portray Afro-Latinx characters fully and in major roles, it's themes like this that Cruz appreciates highlighting. "Being able to write the truth, and even just truthful nuances and moments between relationships, like a couple speaking together privately, or how we talk to our children when they ask us questions: Do I have bad hair? Is there a problem with me because of my skin color? Do I belong here? To be able to just have a real conversation, that was very fulfilling," he says.

It's a show "para toda la familia," says Arzu-Brown, who is excited for the show's future — and D'QUE LATINO is seeing interest from a network, production company, and major brand.

"This next generation will be able to see themselves," the mother of two adds. 'D'QUE LATINO' will give so many Afro-Latinos the opportunity to dream, the opportunity to know that it is possible to achieve because someone like them is on TV doing it."

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