More than a million people in Mexico are descended from African slaves and identify as “black”, “dark” or “Afro-Mexican” even if they don’t look black.
In Mexico’s remote Costa Chica area near the Pacific ocean feel ignored and neglected by the state. A lot of Mexicans don’t even know the Afro-Mexicans exist. Outside their towns, they often get stopped by police who don’t believe they can be Mexican. Some have even been deported, despite having Mexican ID papers.
So who are the black Mexicans? Lucy Duran meets members of this ethnic community that is struggling for identity and recognition. They use their culture, such as the characteristic Dance of the Devils or Chilena music, to assert their identity and fight for their rights.
An Afromestizo from the coast of Oaxaca (below) holding a Pelota mixteca.
A radio documentary from the BBC World Service
Activists want the state to accept Black people as a separate ethnic minority, distinct from indigenous people, but with the same rights. It is not only about being able to hold your head high. It’s also about money. Those fighting for official recognition say that they’re not eligible for the special kind of financial support that similarly isolated indigenous communities get. They blame their poverty on this lack of funding.
Dr Lucy Duran meets black Mexicans ranging from a cowboy to a singer-songwriter and explores how they identify themselves, why even those who do not obviously look as though they are of African descent describe themselves as black, and why their identity has become a political issue.
But beyond the southern state of Oaxaca they are little-known and the community’s leaders are now warning of possible radical steps to achieve official recognition.
‘You may have had a grandmother who was black and feel black, even if you don’t look it’
Tulia Serrano Arellanes
Gaspar Yanga—often simply Yanga or Nyanga (c.1545-?) was an African leader of a maroon colony of fugitive slaves in the highlands near Veracruz, Mexico during the early period of Spanish colonial rule. He is known for successfully resisting a Spanish attack on the colony in 1609. The maroons continued their raids. Finally in 1618, Yanga achieved an agreement with the colonial government for self-rule of the settlement, later called San Lorenzo de los Negros and also San Lorenzo de Cerralvo.
In the late 19th century, Yanga was named as a “national hero of Mexico” and “El Primer Libertador de las Americas”, and 1932 the settlement he formed, located in today’s Veracruz province, was renamed as Yanga in his honor.
Mexico’s Afro-descendant population for years has been virtually invisible; now, for the first time ever, the next national census will include the category of Afro-Mexican. Fletcher interviews NY Times Bureau Chief for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean Randal Archibold about Mexico’s Afro-descendant population. The next segment of the program deals with a fascinating yet virtually unknown chapter of US history, the biological and cultural bonds established between African slaves and Native Americans. Professor William Loren Katz, author of Black Indians-A Hidden Heritage and 40 other books on African-Americans and Native Americans, describes his research on relations between Africans and Afro-descendants and Native Americans.
They came from the sea originated the geography of the Oaxacan coast.
Click on image above to enlarge.
This is a surprise visit to this family, entering their house with no prior announcement, to capture exactly what their life is like at this given moment. This is the family of Andres Mariche and Juana Hernández Marcial in the Afromexican community of Cerro Del Indio in the municipio of Cuajinicuilapa Guerrero México. Filmed in february of 2015. This is in the Costa Chica region of Mexico.
With English Subtitles
In Mexico, it recognizes the existence of more than 60 ethnic groups. But there is one, that despite being present for 500 years, is invisible and vulnerable, are Afro-Mexicans. Remember that there are no official statistics on the population census on Afro-Mexican people and that according to data from educational institutions such as the Colegio de Mexico, are estimated around 200,000 nationwide; UNAM speaks of 450 000; researchers say they are between 2% and 9% of the total population of the country, but no one knows the actual numbers. “Those who govern not know where they are and how many people make up these communities and peoples. It is known, by civil organizations, states largest black population are Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz, although there are a lesser number in Tabasco, Campeche , Coahuila, Sonora, Durango and other states of the country.
” The guerrerense Legislator of origin Afro-Mexican Teresa Mojica Morga, said: “We know how and where the black population in our country is not idleness, but a recognition of our human rights and a first step to incorporate the various education programs , health services, infrastructure, productive activities, financing, particularly women, youth, elderly, programs of sustainable development, administration and enforcement of justice, scholarships, direct support, training programs, among other important aspects of development, allow them to eliminate the scarcities and social backwardness in which they live. ” Arguementó that such studies should explain the diversity of the groups of African origin in the country, their regional differences, their economic situation, the link between physical appearance, skin color and discrimination, so that, based on it, are designed participatory public policies to solve their problems, arising strategies, actions and concrete actions to eliminate discrimination and exclusion in which they live, promoting the recognition, respect for their identity, history and rights, and the inclusion in the project country and exercise real equal opportunities.
First News reporting that reflect the reality experienced by Afro-Mexicans and discrimination that suffer daily , being treated as foreigners in their own homeland. The federal deputy Teresa Mojica Morga has announced that perform a constitutional reform to Afro-Mexicans are constitutionally recognized as the third cultural roots in Mexico , along with indigenous and Spanish .