The comic, “I Exist” was something I’ve been meaning to create for a while ever since I finished making one of my earlier zines about expressing curiosity on AfroSalvadoran identity. Originally I imagined this comic would purely function as an educational tool for Central Americans, but it was another way of expressing brief moments of receiving and embracing anti-blackness as a young person. There used to be moments where I thought I was being absurd for exploring my curiosities on Afro heritage because a majority of Salvadorans would still believe that we don’t exist or that we have just been phased out as an ethnic group due to an increased amount of interracial coupling. So there’s definitely a different kind of loneliness that is specific to an AfroSalvadoran person’s experience, where you may be the only one of your kin who believes this in this truth and are shamed for it because Latinidad has taught us to believe that anyone with proximity to Blackness is bad or undeserving of validation.

But I was able to find some research on AfroSalvadoran history and felt the need to share these findings in order to make the information accessible and also relatable for other Afrodescended people who might have experienced instances of trauma via anti-blackness within their culture or language. The art of storytelling in general is healing because it comes with an ineffable transference of power from the author to the reader and I definitely received a lot of healing from reading other peoples’ comics. My hope for this project was to show how our pain is valid, but that you are able to make room for yourself to grow and embrace your Blackness while finding the people who want to honor your journey.

Click here to check out the full comic “I Exist.”

About Author

Breena Nuñez is a cartoonist and educator from the Bay Area who creates comics and zines centering personal stories about existing as an Afrodescended person with Central American roots.