After centuries of being ignored, Black Mexicans are finally getting public recognition

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DeAratanha, Ricardo –– – Digital Image taken on Sunday, 07/15/2007, Altadena, CA – Photo by Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times –– From LT to Rt: Maribel Silva, cq, Francisca Dominguez, cq, and Vanessa Zorrosa, cq, 7, looking on from the bleachers during Costa Chica's final game at Eliot Middle School soccer field for the Liga Cuscatlan de Futbol. Costa Chica soccer team from Pasadena is composed largely of Mexicans who come from a region where many trace their ancestry to Africa. More than half of the original settlers of Los Angeles were of African descent. This story explores the lives of Afro–Mexicans or afro–mexicanos living in Los Angeles. In Mexico, Afro Mexicans are concentrated mainly in coastal states such as Guerrero, Oaxaca, Michoacan, and Veracruz.

According to Axios Latino, Mexico has historically underplayed the roles and contributions of Black people, largely keeping them out of textbooks, too.

  • The country added Afro-Mexicans to the Constitution’s second article, which lauds the nation’s multiculturalism, in 2019.
  • The 2020 Census asked, for the first time, whether people identified as Black, Afro-Mexican or of African descent.

Two out of 100 Mexicans, or around 2.5 million people, identified as Black in the last Census.

  • Black communities are mostly found in Veracruz — where the Spanish disembarked enslaved people from Africa — and the coast of Oaxaca and Guerrero, where Afro-Indigenous traditions from colonial times endure, like the dance of the devils for Day of the Dead.
  • Mascogos, descendants of Black Seminoles and of people who fled U.S. slavery in the 1830s after Mexico outlawed the practice, live in Coahuila state, which borders the U.S.

The Spaniards had a racist caste system that considered Blackness the lowest societal status, creating a stigma around identifying as Black.

  • A majority of Mexicans consider themselves mestizos, or mixed race, and many falsely claim that disparities in access to education or jobs are due solely to socioeconomic differences, not skin tone.

It was difficult and painful to come out and say ‘soy Negra (I’m black),’ because it’s almost ingrained into you that the term itself is bad, let alone being Black,” Denisse Salinas, who owns a coffeehouse in Oaxaca, told Axios Latino.

  • “But I see many young people doing the same as me, reclaiming the term and identity, and that does give me a glimmer of hope.”

Historians believe two key figures in Mexico’s independence were of African descent:

  • José María Morelos y Pavón, who led insurgents to occupy and reclaim the south and southeast parts of Mexico.
  • Vicente Guerrero, who was Morelos’ right-hand man and went on to be the second president of Mexico. Guerrero declared the end of slavery.
  • Source: Axios Latino
  • Mexico Daily Post