Tu afro no cabe en la foto
Linocut, (or) screenprint + hand paint (acrylic)
Image size: 18 x 24 in.
Paper size: 22 x 30 in.
At Coronado printstudio, Alex Guerrero's 'Tu afro no cabe en la foto' has always caught the attention of our visitors. This linocut print—or screenprint, if you are looking at its second edition (see below)—defies the subtle racism that perks in the Dominican Republic.
For an island that was originally carried on the shoulders of African slaves, the Dominican Republic can be an unfriendly place for those who wear their black heritage. This disdain towards blackness is experienced through microaggressions we hear every day, like when mothers tell their daughters, 'don't marry a black man. Tu tienes que limpiar a la familia.'
Afro-Dominican journalist, Gisela Paredes, was victim of this dormant hatred when she was denied service at the Junta Central Electoral for wearing her natural hair at an appointment to renew her cédula de identidad (national identity card).
As narrated by Dr. Sophie Maríñez on her essay, Paredes 'wore her hair in natural style—that is, non-straightened and left loose in an “afro” style. She was denied her cédula and told that her “afro” did not fit in the picture. She was also told to leave and come back once she had straightened her “greñero,” a particularly pejorative term that refers to “kinky” and 'messy hair.'
Guerrero was inspired to create this piece after Dominican writer and singer-songwriter, Rita Indiana, wrote an article titled 'Tu afro no cabe en la foto' about the incident in El País newspaper. In the print, a young woman faces the viewer with a defiant look as her massive afro breaks out of the picture frame and takes over the rest of the space.
Today, Guerrero prints "Black Lives Matter" screens on foamboards and marches along thousands of individuals to protest against police brutality and racial discrimination in the city of New York. His recent involvement with the movement has brought back a necessity to comment on this issue through an unique edition titled "After the Afro no cabe" (see right). The afro, now represented as a sunflower or the warm rays of a sunset, hides behind the gloomy silhouette of an oppressed and yet enlightened woman, who unapologetically flourishes as herself, naturally and unfiltered.
At times, it might seem this fight is helpless—endless. But the mere existence of resistance towards injustice will always be a catalyst for change. Now, we find ourselves refusing to comply with senseless laws, created in a time of oppression and that aim to discriminate and eradicate blackness. Now, we rest assured under the unanimous understanding that, if 'tu afro no cabe en la foto", then it is time to change the frame.