A Guide to Atlanta’s Afro-Latino Community: EL Grande Peach

I remember my first day in Atlanta vividly. After a grueling 20-hour drive from New York—hoping I’d never have to endure that again—I arrived at my new apartment in Midtown. I was shocked that I had actually done it: left the Big Apple for the Big Peach. A mix of fear, anxiety and enthusiasm washed over me. I was excited at the possibilities that a new city could bring, yet fearful of what I could miss from back home. Like many transplants, I had left behind the cold and endless traffic of New York for a warmer climate and, what some Atlantans insist is, even worse traffic. (C, they’ve never lived in New York). 

Atlanta’s Melanated Oasis

One thing I was ready for was to embrace this melanated oasis. Here, folks who looked and sounded like me roamed by the thousands. Every corner of the city felt welcoming, and every face looked familiar. You see, I’m Afro-Caribbean (Dominican to be exact)—a rich tapestry of cultures and sazón flows through my veins. For the first time, I felt like I belonged in a place where all of me would be accepted. It honestly felt like a giant family reunion, and I was eager to grab a plate and meet my long-lost cousins. 

Fast forward to now, and that feeling hasn’t faded. If anything, it’s grown stronger and deeper as I’ve become more ingrained in a community of like-minded Black and Brown folks who want to see this city grow into the cultural mecca we envision. 

Finding Connection and Community

But I can’t lie—it’s not all great. There are days when it’s hard to find my place here. On some days, I crave connection with my Spanish roots, so I head to Sabor Dominicano on Buford Highway for some “dimelo, mi loco” and a plate of pollo guisado. Other days, I seek the Black excellence that propels this city forward, so I sit at The Gathering Spot to soak up wisdom from mentors and peers in a space perfectly curated for us, by us (shoutout to Ryan and TK). 

The sad part is that there are few places where the full me can show up—where I don’t have to suppress a part of myself that my Black or Hispanic peers might not relate to. Even in a city as diverse and melanated as ours, there’s still much work to do to bridge the evident cultural gaps. I remember this time I went to Bar Vegan, one of my favorite bars in the city. Always good vibes, music and food. Normally you would hear a mix of afrobeats, R&B and hip-hop but this particular day one of the DJs played Bad Bunny and my eyes lit up. I was shocked and I’m pretty sure everyone in Bar Vegan knew that when I screamed “ELLA ES CALLIATA.” Typically you don’t get that in Atlanta.

Maneuvering the CIty in the Forest

If anything, you have to seek it out. The vibe you want, the communities you want to interact with, they’re all here but in their own pocket of the city. You can see all of them climbing up Stone Mountain or walking on the Beltline on a nice summer day, strolling around on their bikes or you might see one of the hundreds of run clubs hitting the pavement too—catch me on Saturdays with Motion Run Club by the way. We’re all here. Maneuvering through the City in the Forest but it seems at times it’s just that—a forest and most of us are lost within the trees. It’s beautiful to see the multitude of people form in this city. Being Dominican, I crave the nuances of knowledge and rich history of the Black plight in Atlanta, consistently striving to connect with the many facets that have shaped my reality throughout my life and in that same respect I long for the subtle nods of my Hispanic identity like Bachata on Sunday mornings. I’m not saying they don’t exist here but what I’m saying is you won’t find it all in one place. 

From my experience, it really is what you make of it. Despite the shortcomings I’ve mentioned, there are a plethora of Atlantans like me who seek to bridge those gaps. From community leaders, event organizers, and organizations like HYPE (Hispanic Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs) and The Emerging 100—two groups I’m proud to be part of, which I joined to show that diversity in ethnicity and thought is not just possible but necessary. So again, I welcome you to Atlanta. My new home that I’m honored to have been accepted in and embraced the way I have. Although we don’t have it all right I believe in the future of this city because I’m called (& I hope you do too) to shape it. Where the intersectionality of race, culture, and identity can all sync together. 

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