Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Father of “BLACK MEXICAN” History

Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán 

One day a couple from Vera Cruz, Mexico, was in my office . I was so surprised that they never knew that their hometown was once an entry port for over 500,000 African slaves. In fact, an overwhelming majority of the Mexicans I meet know nothing about their country being in the midst of the slave trade more than 100 years before the USA got involved.

In the USA, Carter G Woodson is known as the Father of Black History, however, in Mexico, I give that label to the late anthropologist and professor at the University of Vera Cruz, Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán. Since 1492, the history of the Americas has been forged by three cultures: Indigenous, European, and African - the third root of all of the Americas, states Beltrán who was considered Mexico's foremost expert on the African influence on Mexican culture. Not generally taught in history books is that during the colonial era, there were more Africans than Europeans in Mexico, according to Aguirre Beltrán's pioneering book, La Población Negra en México (The Black Population in Mexico), published in 1946.

Where are the Black people today, you might ask. Note that, unlike the USA, interracial marriage was never outlawed in Mexico or any other Latin-American country. After more than 500 years of interracial marriages and birth of mixed children of Indigenous, European, and African heritage, a new ethnicity was created. However, in Mexico's states of Vera Cruz where Beltrán was born, and the states Guerrero, Coahuila, and Oaxaca, there are still visible remnants of Mexico's Black Heritage.


  1. Thanks for this post. I never knew about this man, keep up the good info

  2. Bill did you know that there were 30,000 Afro-Mexicans (via La Costa Chica) in Winston-Salem, NC? Bobby Vaughn and other researchers have already written on their interactions with African-Americans and the larger Winston population. A good trip idea.

    1. I knew there were a lot of La Costa Chicana living in North Carolina, but I never knew about their interactions with African-Americans with the exception of one isolated instance. What I don't understand is what attracted them to North Carolina, and not California, Arizona, or New Mexico. Do you have a link to Bobby Vaughn's article?

  3. I don't have a link to his article, but here is a link to another research paper that explains why they chose Winston-Salem (The migration to Winston-Salem explanation begins on the middle of page 63:

    Here is a picture slideshow of Afro-Mex. in Winston-Salem:

  4. Actually Mexico imported about 200,000 to 250,000 slaves from what I read. Mexico was not a slaved based economy so it was not necessary. The indigenous population was huge. Mexico itself has 62 official indigenous languages it recognizes.

    The Portuguese wanted to use Mexico Veracruz port to ship African slaves to North America like Louisiana and to other parts of Latin America.

    The Portuguese had control of the Slave trade in the early colonial period
    38% went to Brazil
    40% went to the Caribbean like Hispaniola now Dominican Republic and later half of the island became French Haiti, Cuba,
    5% went to Colombia
    5% went to Peru
    5% went to Venezuela
    5% went to United States

    the other 2% went to Mexico,and other parts of Latin America like Argentina, Chile, Panama. Panama also got a big influx from the Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic when they decided to build the Panama Canal.

    Looking at Mexican DNA the results are only 5.6% have African DNA which means it is a small minority.

    According to a paper presented by the American Society of Human Genetics Mexicans were found to be 58.96% European, 36.05% "Asian" (Amerindian), and 5.03% African

    Another study,[31] one focusing on the general population in five Latin American nations — Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, — estimated that about half (50.1%) of Mexican ancestry was of Amerindian origin; 44.3%, European; and 5.6%, African. Compared to the other Latin American countries, Mexico was found to have the smallest amount of African admixture. Mexico has the second largest amount of Amerindian ancestry, topped by Ecuador.

    A paper[32] specifically focusing on Mexican mestizos, has found them to be mostly Amerindian (55.2%) but also having a large amount of European admixture (41.8%). African ancestry was found to be 1.8% and East Asian ancestry, 1.2%.

    What I don't understand is what attracted them to North Carolina, and not California, Arizona, or New Mexico. Do you have a link to Bobby Vaughn's article?

    Since Mexico was the first to ban slavery including in Tejas free slaves actually come from the south as run away slaves to find freedom in Mexico which also included Tejas. It is possible that these afro Mexicans can trace their roots from this area.

    In 1823, Mexico forbade the sale or purchase of slaves and required that the children of slaves be freed when they reached fourteen.[19] Any slave introduced into Mexico by purchase or trade would also be freed.[18] Many of the colonists in Texas, however, owned slaves which they had brought with them from the United States.[19] In 1827, the legislature of Coahuila y Tejas outlawed the introduction of additional slaves into the state and granted freedom at birth to all children born to a slave.[19] The new laws also stated that any slave brought into Texas should be freed within six months.[20] Two years later, slavery was officially outlawed in Mexico.[19]

    There are some towns with few blacks in them, far north of Mexico, especially in Coahuila and the country’s border with Texas. Some ex slaves and free blacks came into northern Mexico in the 19th century from the United States.[4] One particular group was the Mascogos, which consisted of runaway slaves and free blacks from Florida, along with Seminoles and Kickapoos. Many of these settled in and around the town of El Nacimiento, Coahuila, where their descendents remain.[5]

  5. Also I need to clarify that Mexico is mostly a Mestizo Nation. 80% of the population is Mestizo meaning Spanish and Meso American/Native American. Full White Hispanic or Full White European are minority in Mexico. You can find full Whites in Mexico and like I said it is estimated that 5.6% of the population has African ancestry.

    80% Mexicans are Mestizo Spanish/Native American Indigenous
    12% Full European/Spanish or White Hispanic or Anglo
    5% is Afro Mexican includes African or Mulattoes People that come from the Caribbean to work like Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Panama or even Brazil.

    Examples Kalimba is Afro Mexican
    Gio vanni Dos Santos is Afro Brazilian Mexican.
    Melvin Brown who is Jamaican Mexican.
    Emilio Omam-Biyik Mexican Cameroonian soccer player
    Tona la Negra Afro Mexican Singer.
    Melody Thorton who was born in the United States is Afro Mexican with her mother being Mexican ancestry and dad being Afro American.

    I looked at this intensely and did a lot of research. I wondered why Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico had more African culture and phenotype was more African then Mexican.

    One of the arguments is that in Mexico they mixed but the truth is that the Caribbean just received a large population of imported African slaves and Mexico received one of the lowest amounts in Latin America. Cuba, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic received African slaves long before Mexico. Racial mixing occurred on those islands but you can see there is a difference between Mexicans and people from the Caribbean.

    Written in history books is the demise of the Indigenous natives who lived in Mexico. However Mexico was so large and so big it stretched into the Southwest of the modern day United States of America from Tejas or Texas all the way to California.

    It was not an island like Hispaniola or Puerto Rico or Cuba where and epidemic could wipe out a vast amount of people. It actually took time for the Spanish to expand in Nueva Espana now Mexico into more territories.

    It was not as concentrated as an island where you could reach from one end of the island to another in a day. Many indigenous communities were isolated and had no contact with Spanish for a while just like in the Amazon in Brazil where some tribes were not discovered until the 20th century. In Mexico it happen much early but I hope you get the point I am trying to make.

    Now the world is connected so an pandemic can spread quickly but back then it did not reach everyone indigenous population because Indigenous communities were more isolated and it took a while to find them and reach them due to slower transportation.


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