Al Horford: Latino In America

Al Horford: Latino in America
By Lauren Harper

In August 2007 and again last July, CNN aired a documentary special titled “Black in America,” presenting a look into the experiences of several African Americans across the country.

This past week, CNN revisited their series, this time, focusing on America’s Hispanic population. Among those profiled was Hawks center Al Horford, who was born and spent the first 14 years of his life in the Dominican Republic.

Before his official interview, Horford chatted with CNN reporters in his native Spanish, and then sat down with about his black and Latino heritage, the Dominican scene in Atlanta, and the perks of living with his mother.

How did it feel being asked to appear on “Latino in America”?

I was excited, I saw the documentary last year and I thought it was really interesting and being a part of this thing I felt pretty special. I thought [“Black in America”] was a great documentary. It went way back on different issues and topics that have been going on in the African American community and I think it was very successful.

Speaking of African Americans, what do you think when people assume you’re a black American?

It [doesn’t] really bother me because by my name and by the way that I look (gestures to his face), I mean, obviously it’s something you would assume naturally. But [I want to] show people that there’s more to being Hispanic than--a lot of people just stereotype it--the ‘Mexican’ look. There’s also white and there’s also black Hispanics; that’s what I come from. I tell [people] I’m Dominican. Obviously, I am black but the difference is that I’m Hispanic. I’m not American.

Your father, Tito Horford, was the first Dominican player to play in the NBA. Did you guys ever have conversations about that?

Not really, I think when you look at it, there’s very few Hispanics in the NBA, so it wasn’t even about being Latino, it was just about making it to the NBA because it’s just so hard to make it, period. So you feel special about it.

Do you do anything specifically to express your Latino pride?

Usually I try to represent my community and my culture the best that I can, but I go about every day just trying to represent my family. I’m just trying to make a difference out in the world. I don’t even look at, necessarily, just the Latin community, I’m looking at everything in general.

Do you ever get to visit the Dominican Republic?

I do, I do! I get to go back every summer, I go as much as I can. I still have a lot of family there so it’s always nice to go back home. (And) I have them come visit me! I have them come visit me any chance I get, any chance I’m here it always seems that I have somebody in my house, some family or friend of mine from middle school, just keeping that connection.

Is there a strong Latino presence here in Atlanta?

There is! There’s a nice community here, restaurants I usually check out when I get some time, there’s Cuban restaurants and a couple of Dominican restaurants that I go to. Fortunately for me, I have my mom here, so she can take care of me as far as the food goes!