Natasha S. Alford Didn’t Fully Understand Her Roots Before Working On Her Memoir, ‘American Negra’

Natasha S. Alford, vice president of digital content for TheGrio, is embracing the role of citizen more than ever, alongside her many other titles, including mother, partner, scholar, producer, and now, author of the memoir, American Negra.

American Negra explores the sense of belonging from the perspective of someone with both Black American and Puerto Rican roots. She emphasizes the essential role people of color play in America’s story and economy while challenging established and incorrect notions.

“I think that we’re having so many conversations about what it means to belong, and so much effort has been put into portraying people of color as somehow unworthy,” Alford tells BLACK ENTERPRISE.

“I wrote this book for every person,” she adds. “I didn’t want people to pick it up and feel like it was too academic or it was, somehow above their understanding.”

The title intentionally includes her Afro-Latina upbringing, stressing that Afro-Latina is just another term for a Black person. Alford highlights the shared African heritage among Black people, regardless of their specific backgrounds. 

“We all come from Africa, so I wanted to center Blackness,” she notes.

Alford hopes her book will catalyze change by fostering conversations among different communities, helping them realize their similarities. Her journey of self-discovery while writing the book traced her family roots back to Florida and South Carolina, giving her a deeper understanding of her place in society. She encourages readers to explore the hidden histories within their own families while also unpacking and recognizing their contributions to America.

With a background in journalism, Alford’s curiosity led her to hire a genealogist, using the findings as a foundation for her memoir. “I can’t separate my Blackness from who I am,” she says, acknowledging the dual influence of her African American father and Puerto Rican mother.

Alford views her book as both a coming-of-age story and a narrative on mixed race, culture, and ethnicity. Reflecting on her career, she realized the fulfillment of her dreams by investing in a Black institution like TheGrio. 

“This is a story of actually achieving the American dream by investing in Black media and the Black community,” she explains.

Through the book, Alford has gained a greater sense of how to approach life, reinforcing the idea that success doesn’t have to conform to traditional mainstream venues. Her book underscores the importance of understanding one’s roots and the shared experiences within America’s Black community.

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