Gloriann Sacha Antonetty Lebrón has made history by launching Puerto Rico’s first magazine for Black women on the island. Lebrón, 38, said she was fascinated by the beauty and fashion magazines sold in the mercados, or markets, of her childhood home in Carolina, Puerto Rico. According to O, The Oprah Magazine, the brown-skinned beauty pursued her dreams in the fashion industry by going to modeling school. Lebrón was one of the few Black faces in the school.
Even at such a young age, Lebrón didn’t see representations of Black women in her favorite Spanish-language magazines like Cosmopolitan and Revista Tú. Though she said she enjoyed reading these publications, Lebrón yearned to see women who embodied the attributes of the matriarchs in her own family.
“I never had the opportunity here in Puerto Rico to see Black people, and Black women in particular, in magazines,” Lebrón told mitú. “None of them represented the beauty of my family, my friends, my community or myself.”
Lebrón’s father was the first person to expose her to magazines that featured Black American women. Her infatuation with magazines like Essence and Ebony prompted her journey into the exploration of Black women’s beauty in her own patria. During her teenage years, the two publications weren’t available on the island so her father asked friends on the mainland to send the magazines to his daughter.
The memories from her childhood inspired Lebrón to launch her own beauty magazine for Black Latina women. Revista Étnica is the first print magazine in Puerto Rico that specifically focuses on all facets of Black Latino life, beauty and culture.
“Our community is marginalized,” Lebrón said in an interview with mitú. “If you have dark skin, you generally don’t have an opportunity to feel like you belong and are a part of society. We are only good for food, music and sports, and that’s something we want to change.”
Lebrón said that her journey to bring her dream to fruition has not gone without a struggle. She said a prominent Puerto Rican media personality told her a magazine that focused on negrura, or blackness, would fail.
“He said, ‘people in Puerto Rico don’t want to identify as Black,'” Lebrón said. “I started to believe that the magazine wasn’t important, and it took away my dream.”
There is a movement among Black Latinos to be seen and represented in and outside the Latino community. Afrodescendientes, or Afro-descendants, are taking a hard stance against the anti-Blackness perpetuated in the community for centuries.
Lebrón said she has experienced the same anti-Blackness many other Black Latinos continue to experience. Whether it was in the workplace, the media or among everyday people, she aspired to put Black Latinos front and center in Revista Étnica. Her previous job as the director of communications for a nonprofit that put her in contact with children in Puerto Rico reinforced the importance of representation. She told mitú the children would get excited when they saw her — someone who looked like them.
The biannual magazine is currently sold at Walmarts and Walgreens throughout Puerto Rico and can also be ordered online.