Proudly Afro-descendant. This is how Alberto Barrow, director of the Panama Afro Observatory, feels.
The persistent inequalities that exist for his peers have led him to become one of the most emblematic voices of the Afro-Panamanian social movement.
Alberto Barrow spoke about his longing to live in a country where there is full inclusion. A Panama that recognizes its diversity and offers the same working spaces to the black race.
WAS ANY ANTECEDENT OR ANECDOTE THAT CAUSED YOU TO BE PART OF THE STRUGGLE TO REDUCE THE SOCIAL INEQUITY OF THIS GROUP?
I have been linked to the Afro-Panamanian social movement for more than forty years. From the first years of my youth I joined this project. I remember that at the Instituto Fermín Naudeau, in the 70s, I was prevented from receiving my diploma because I had Afro hair. I was told to cut it. I refused … I was the only one in the class of the year 70 who could not receive his diploma at the formal ceremony because I refused to cut my afro.
WHAT DOES AFRO MEAN TO YOU?
My natural hair was part of my identity. And today, of course, it’s still part of my identity. And I understood that by forcing me to cut my hair for the graduation ceremony it was to subtract something from my identity. That was my perception and after forty-some years I still believe that girls and young people who attend school, Afro-Panamanians, Panamanian people with dark skin, should have the right to carry their identity completely, and hair is part of their identity.