Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mexico's Third Root

The Presence of Afro-Mexicans
Blacks in Mexico  
Contrary to common knowledge, particularly among Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, is that Mexico, like other Latin-American nations, have African blood as well as indigenous and Spanish. Mexican people of indigenous ancestry, to this day, play ancient instruments, such as African hand pianos (or marimbas) in songs and dances of African influence (corridos), which tell stories of slave revolts and ancestral tributes.

Spanish forces were unable to defeat these “uppity negroes,” and a free black town called Yanga was established.

A Mexican-American woman asked me during a discussion as to where I am getting my information. Although there are many books on this topic, I told her to check out one by Mexico's renown, late anthropologist and professor at the University of Vera Cruz. His name is Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán. The book is entitled, La Población Negra de México (The Black Population of Mexico), where he talks about more than 500,000 African slaves being brought in through Mexico's Port of Vera Cruz between the Cortez invasion in 1519 and Mexican independence in

Africans made up 71% of the non-indigenous population in Mexico during the early colonial periods.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, Mexico enslaved more Africans than any other country in the Western Hemisphere. African slaves worked in silver mines, on sugar plantations, in textile factories, and in households. Others worked in skilled trade or on cattle ranches. In addition, Afro-Mexican people made significant contributions in folktales, religion, medicinal practices, and of course, music and dance; the most notable example is the hit song La Bamba, first popularized by rock-n-roll star Richie Valens out of Pacoima, CA. This song was sung and danced to by black Mexican slaves as early as 1683. See more about this in... La Bamba: The Soul of Black Mexican Folks.


Mexico's first root is the native population before the Spanish invasion.

About one-tenth of Mexico's slaves escaped to remote, armed runaway settlements called palenques and were a total menace to slave holders. In Mexico's state of Vera Cruz, Spanish forces were unable to defeat these “uppity negros,” and a free black town called Yanga was established. See... African History in Vera Cruz, Mexico. Slavery in Mexico was finally abolished in 1829 by Mexico's Afro-Mexican president Vicente Guerrero. See... The Soul of Mexican Independence.

The Spanish represents Mexico's second root, who brought in African slaves making up Mexico's third root.

Beltrán further points out in his 1946 published work that Africans made up 71% of the non-indigenous population in Mexico during the early colonial periods, and the Spanish made up the remainder. After more than 500 years of interracial marriages and offspring, the African presence is no longer noticeable, except in Mexico's states of Veracruz, Guerrero, and Oaxaca.. Yet, Africans in Mexico left their cultural and genetic imprint everywhere they lived. 
After more than 500 years of interracial marriages and offspring, the African presence is no longer noticeable.
I would be remiss not to point out that Mexican history also includes 19th century African-American slaves and Seminole people (so-called Indians) who fled what is now known as the State of Florida to the Mexican border state of Coahuila where their descendants live there to this day.

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1 comment:

  1. one of my closest friends is mexican. he loves only black chicks and he swears he is pure aztec. i’ve told him time and time again, “there is no such thing as pure these days”. i’ve mentioned to him that he has black somewhere in his family and it shows in his features as opposed to his complexion. low and behold, he shows me a picture of one of his brothers (by the same parents) whose nickname is moreno. moreno looks exactly like my friend, but is blessed with darker skin and curlier hair….just like I’ve been telling him all along.

    last year, i had the pleasure of meeting his family in both mexico city and a beautiful, peaceful town called chapantango in the state of hildalgo, mexico. i loved it! his family are the most humble, loving, family oriented, friendly and (seemingly) less prejudiced latinos i’ve met thus far.

    embarrassingly, prior to meeting my friend, i believed mexicans hated black people due to all the hubbub gang wars i’ve read about in california.

    thanks for the book recommendations. i'll check them out.


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