Afro-Mexicans are finally getting their due recognition in the newest edition of Mexico’s census.
Mexico Negro, a pro-Black Mexican group, won a campaign to have Afro-Mexicans listed as an identity option in the national census that was released on Dec. 8.
The country has about 1.38 million people of African descent, making up approximately 1.2 percent of its population. This is the first time in Mexican history that Blacks can fully identify themselves on the census report, a significant move towards equality in a country that has historically tried to erase blackness from its national legacy since the Mexican Revolution in 1910.
For almost a century, the term “mestizage” has been exclusively used to recognize interracial lineage from colonizers mixed with indigenous people—simultaneously ignoring Mexico’s history and descendants of African slaves.
Getting Black people to be recognized on the census has been a battle forged by Mexico Negro for the past 15 years. The organization points out that having Black people accurately represented on the country’s census combats the anti-black/structural racism that is pervasive throughout Latin America.
Based on your culture, history and traditions, do you consider yourself black, meaning Afro-Mexican or Afro-descendant?
– Mexico’s 2015 intercensal survey
The inclusion of that question was initially considered a delicate matter. Cervera said that using the word negro (black) on the questionnaires was viewed by some as a touchy issue, since many researchers considered it a pejorative term. But that turned out to be mostly an academic concern; those who were surveyed didn’t object to the word and appreciated being able to identify as “Afro-Mexican,” he said.
“These groups want to count statistically, so they can solicit government or institutional support,” Cervera said.
One of the main takeaways from the first data set is that Mexico’s self-identified black population doesn’t appear to be trailing the rest of the population in terms of access to education or health services—something that Cervera says he was “pleasantly surprised” to find out. In general terms, Mexico’s black population seems to have better access to public services, education and work opportunities than the indigenous population, he said.
In any event, all Mexicans would be better served from stronger public policies and improved quality of life. And accurate census data is a first step towards diagnosing the problems facing different communities.
“We celebrate this inclusion,” said Benigno Gallardo, an Afro-Mexican activist based in the southern state of Guerrero. But he says much needs to be done to achieve full recognition. “In school they teach our children about Europeans and indigenous natives, but the history books practically don’t recognize our history.”
It’s a history that’s deeply woven into Mexico’s colonial past.
Some claim the first black people arrived with the Spanish conquistadors. After the fall of the Aztec Empire and the establishment of a Viceroyalty in what is today Mexico City, Spanish rulers began importing slaves from Africa to replace indigenous slaves who died from disease and epidemic. Soon the term “mulato” was coined to describe mixed-race generations of black people and white Europeans.
Under colonial rule, Mexican society was divided into a system of castes where different groups were ranked according to the ruling elite’s perception of “blood purity,” with the white Spanish at the top and mulatos and other mixed races at the bottom.
In the early 1800s, the country’s independence movement abolished slavery and many freed black Mexicans joined the insurgent forces against the Spanish. Subsequent generations settled in the Gulf of Mexico and in the south of the country, mainly in a region known as Costa Chica, which today is largely populated by Afro-Mexicans.
In recent years, the black Mexican population has become more visible, also in the United States. Interracial mixing between African Americans and some Latinos in South Los Angeles has even led to the term “Blaxican.”
Before Columbus..How Africans Brought Civilization to America Continent.
The Olmec civilization, which was of African origin and dominated by Africans, was the first significant civilization in Mesoamerica and the Mother Culture of Mexico.
Olmecs are perhaps best known for the carved colossal heads found in Central Mexico, that exhibit an unmistakably African Negroid appearance. Ancient African historian Professor Van Sertima has illustrated how Olmecs were the first Mesoamerican civilization to use a written language, sophisticated astronomy, arts and mathematics and they built the first cities in Mexico, all of which greatly influenced the Mayans and subsequent civilizations in the Americas. “There is not the slightest doubt that all later civilizations in [Mexico and Central America], rest ultimately on an Olmec base,” once remarked Michael Coe, a leading historian on Mexico.
Africans clearly played an intricate role in the Olmec Empire’s rise and that African influence peaked during the same period that ancient Black Egyptian culture ascended in Africa.”–Before Columbus: How Africans Brought Civilization to America
In October every second week on Monday, Columbus Day is celebrated in western culture in general and in the America’s specifically. This is an American tradition and school children of all ages are taught about his so-called discovery of his New-World. Annual parades are given around the country, and every year dignitaries participate in these festivities.
Unfortunately, most people celebrate his holiday without knowing the truth about Columbus’s purpose for taking such risky voyages, and his horrendous behavior against the indigenous population, together with brutality against his own men.
At the other end of the spectrum, Columbus’s impact has been most devastating on the indigenous people together with African communities everywhere. For a better understanding, three historical events before Columbus’s four voyages are presented, along with the reasons for these voyages.http://www.reunionblackfamily.com/apps/blog/show/42758005-before-columbus-how-africans-brought-civilization-to-america