One of the things I’ve learned from my continued research on African people is that we’re all over the planet, and we’ve made a lasting impact everywhere we’ve landed. Many of our contributions, whether that be labor or culture, tends to be overlooked or exploited. And Blacks, globally, are still dealing with discrimination, poverty, lack of education, and limited resources. So I wanted to highlight the African descendants in Mexico who are currently fighting for their recognition as well as paying homage to their roots.
The history of Afro-Mexicans dates back to the early 1600s. Spanish authorities were responsible for the enslavement of an estimated 200,000 West Africans. During that time, Mexico had a larger African slave population than any other country in the Americas; outnumbering the Spanish population throughout the colonial period until 1810. The Black slaves were typically used as foremen to oversee the indigenous people, but many of the male population married the indigenous women. This resulted in a mixed-race offspring, with Black Mexicans being all but forgotten.
Today, there are more than 1.4 million people in Mexico who are descendants of African slaves—identifying as black, dark, or Afro-Mexican—below the southern states of Guerrero and Oaxaca. BBC News advised that “Black Mexicans have been living in the Costa Chica area, on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, since their African ancestors were brought from Africa as slaves in the 16th century.” An interim 2015 census states that the Black population makes up 1.2% of the Mexican population. And much of their identity is based on where they live and common culture; I.E. if they live in a black town such as Santiago Llano Grande and are familiar with their distinctive style of music (Chilena), instruments (Quijada and Bote), and dances.
The issue, however, is that Afro-Mexicans are not officially recognized as a minority by the Mexican government. “According to Humberto Hebert Silva Silva, head of the Bureau for Afro-Mexican Affairs in Oaxaca, this is because Afro-Mexicans speak Spanish, like most other Mexicans – they do not have their own language.” If they were classified as a minority they’d receive extra funding for promotion of their culture and public health programs. And since Guerrero and Oaxaca are some of the country’s poorest states, Afro-Mexicans are statistically more likely to live in poverty.
As I’ve stated in a previous post, the global conditions of African people can be disheartening at times. But I still find myself developing a sense of pride, mainly due to the resilience and humble spirit that Blacks still have in spite of our condition. If you have any additional information on Afro-Mexicans, feel free to comment below.
Until Next Time…
Cocking, L. (2017, July 19). The Untold History of Afro-Mexicans, Mexico’s Forgotten Ethnic Group. Retrieved November 25, 2018, from https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/mexico/articles/the-untold-history-of-afro-mexicans-mexicos-forgotten-ethnic-group/
Gonzalez, D. (2018, January 11). Exploring the History of Afro-Mexicans. Retrieved November 25, 2018, from https://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/exploring-the-history-of-afro-mexicans/
Gregorius, A. (2016, April 10). The black people ‘erased from history’. Retrieved November 25, 2018, from https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35981727
Afro-Mexicans. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2018, from https://minorityrights.org/minorities/afro-mexicans/