Black Mexico: Unearthing the ‘Third Root’

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2015-08-25 14:20Z by Steven

Black Mexico: Unearthing the ‘Third Root’

The Compton Herald
Compton, California
2015-08-16

Jarrette Fellows, Jr.

Spaniards, African slaves, and indigenous Indians in Colonial Mexico forged a unique ethnic blend known as ‘Black Mexicans

This multiple-part series will unravel the little-known history of how Mexico’s 15th-century assimilation of Spaniards, indigenous Indians, and African slaves into “Black Mexico,” eventually led to the founding of Los Angeles by Black Mexicans and Mestizos in the 17th century when California was still under the rule of Mexico. Even though the Black imprint in Mexico is unraveling more and more as time moves on, the reality of the truth is still largely mired in a Shadow History because the masses do not frequent libraries and this truth has never been taught as a history lesson in Mexico, much less as historic text in the U.S. To now, this invaluable historic truth has largely been available as scholarly works. The Compton Herald sought out this history, scaled down its volume from multiple scholarly sources, and now present it in nine parts for public consumption — Jarrette

THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE of ancient Spanish America were the Aztecs, Mayans, Olmecs, Toltecs, Zapotecs and the Mixtecs, who inhabited a geographical area encompassing present-day Florida and much of what is now the Western U.S., Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean. These ancient peoples comprised the pre-Columbian indigenous civilizations before the arrival of all-conquering Spain as a colonizer of the region prior to the 16th century.  These indigenous natives constituted modern-day Mexico’s “First Root.”…

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Tony Gleaton: Photographing The African Story Across The Americas

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2015-08-24 01:05Z by Steven

Tony Gleaton: Photographing The African Story Across The Americas

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
National Public Radio
2015-08-23

Karen Grigsby Bates

Photographer Tony Gleaton died last Friday after struggling with a particularly aggressive cancer for 18 months. He was working, signing prints, talking to museums (several have his work in their collections, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem) and checking in with his friends right up to the last day. I admired his work, but also treasured his friendship.

For many years, Tony often showed up on my Los Angeles doorstep with a huge sack of dirty laundry slung over his shoulder and a box of contact sheets under one arm.

“Here,” he’d say, placing the box in my hands, and walking through the door. “Look at these. I’m gonna do some laundry, okay?”…

…In the beginning, he got a lot of pushback. “Why do you want to take our picture?” the villagers would ask, warily. “We have no money to pay you.”

When Tony would explain that he was documenting the African Diaspora around the world, and that they and he were both part of it, the conversation often became even harder.

“You want to take pictures of black people?” they’d ask.

“Yes, like you and me … ” he’d begin

“Well,” they’d respond, looking at his fair skin, light hair and blue-green eyes. “You’re not black. And we’re certainly not black. So you need to do that somewhere else.”

Eventually he learned to refine his approach and tell the villagers he wanted people in the States to see how beautiful people in the villages were. “I just gave up on the black connection. It was important to me, but not to them. They see race differently than we do. And it’s only a social construct anyway.”

There is still stigma to acknowledging blackness in many parts of Mexico, and Tony’s work raised the profile of Latinos with what is sometimes called “the Third Root” — Spanish, Indian, African — in Latino culture. His work eventually expanded across the Americas to form an exhibit called Tengo Casi 500 Anos (I Have Almost 500 Years) — Africa’s Legacy in Mexico that explores the African presence in the Americas. He’s also chronicled black, Indian and Mexican cowboy culture, as well as life in American Samoa and the Mississippi Delta

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Tony Gleaton, 67, Dies, Leaving Legacy in Pictures of Africans in the Americas

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, United States on 2015-08-20 15:42Z by Steven

Tony Gleaton, 67, Dies, Leaving Legacy in Pictures of Africans in the Americas

The New York Times
2015-08-18

Bruce Weber

Tony Gleaton, a photographer who turned his back on a career in New York fashion and embarked on an itinerant artistic quest, documenting the lives of black cowboys and creating images of the African diaspora in Latin America, died on Friday in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 67.

The cause was oral cancer, his wife, Lisa, said.

Mr. Gleaton made his photographs in the American West and Southwest, and then, most prominently, in Mexico, where he lived among little-acknowledged communities of blacks — descendants of African slaves brought to the New World centuries earlier by the Spanish — in villages on the coastal plains of Oaxaca, south of Acapulco.

An exhibition of those photos, “Africa’s Legacy in Mexico,” which appeared in galleries around the country for more than a decade beginning in the 1990s, was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution.

Mr. Gleaton specialized in black-and-white portraits, their subjects — children and adults, alone or in groups — almost always in direct engagement with the camera and usually in tight frames that suggest but do not explore a specific setting, like a workplace or a barroom. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times in 2007, he called his pictures “abstractions from daily life,” saying “they may look natural but they are extremely crafted, very calculated.”…

Read the entire obituary here.

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“We Are Not Racists, We Are Mexicans”: Privilege, Nationalism and Post-Race Ideology in Mexico

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2015-07-26 02:42Z by Steven

“We Are Not Racists, We Are Mexicans”: Privilege, Nationalism and Post-Race Ideology in Mexico

Critical Sociology
Published online before print 2015-06-18
DOI: 10.1177/0896920515591296

Mónica G. Moreno Figueroa, Lecturer in Sociology
University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Emiko Saldívar, Associate Project Scientist
Department of Anthropology
University of California, Santa Barbara

This article analyses the conflicting understandings surrounding the recognition of anti-black racism in Mexico, drawing from an analysis of the 2005 controversy around Memín Pinguín. We ask what is at stake when opposition arises to claims of racism, how racial disavowal is possible, and how is it that the racial project of mestizaje (racial and cultural mixture) expresses a form of Mexican post-racial ideology. We argue that the ideology of mestizaje is key for unpacking the tensions between the recognition and disavowal of racism. Mestizaje solidifies into a form of nationalist denial in moments when racism is openly contested or brought up. It becomes a concrete strategy of power that is mobilized to simplify or divert attention in particular moments, such as with the Memín Pinguín controversy, when the contradictions within the social dynamic are revealed and questioned. Here is where Mexico’s “raceless” ideology of mestizaje overlaps with current post-racial politics. We explore state, elite and popular reactions to the debate to discuss how such public displays reflect an invested denial of race and racism while, at the same time, the racial status quo of mestizaje is reinforced. This, we argue, is the essence of post-racial politics in Mexico.

Read or purchase the article here.

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The Global African – Mexican Afro-descendants

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Videos on 2015-07-17 15:03Z by Steven

The Global African – Mexican Afro-descendants

The Global African
2014-12-03

Bill Fletcher, Host

Randal Archibold, Bureau Chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean
The New York Times (Author of the article “Negro? Prieto? Moreno? A Question of Identity for Black Mexicans”)

William Loren Katz
Author of: Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage

Each week on “The Global African” host Bill Fletcher, Jr. addresses issues facing Africa and the African Diasporas.

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.

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Early Afro-Mexican Settlers in California

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, United States, Videos on 2015-07-13 18:05Z by Steven

Early Afro-Mexican Settlers in California

C-SPAN: Created by Cable
2015-05-20

Host: California Historical Society

Professor Carlos Manuel Salomon, author of Pio Pico: The Last Governor of Mexican California, talked about Mexicans of African descent who were some of the first non-Indian settlers in California. Many came from Sinaloa and Sonora, Mexico, with the Anza Expedition in 1775, and helped to shape the character of California, building and establishing pueblos and ranches that grew into towns such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Monterey, and San Jose. Several became wealthy landowners and politicians, including Pio Pico, the last governor of Mexican California.

Watch the video (01:21:44) here.

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Mexico’s hidden people

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2015-07-13 14:40Z by Steven

Mexico’s hidden people

Cable News Network (CNN)
2015-07-10

Abby Reimer, Special to CNN


Photograph: Mara Sanchez Renero

(CNN)—An estimated 200,000 Africans were brought to Mexico under slavery, which ended in the country in 1829. Yet Afro-Mexicans remain a marginalized and often forgotten part of Mexico’s identity.

Photographer Mara Sanchez Renero first learned about Afro-Mexicans as a teenager, when she traveled to the Costa Chica region in southern Mexico. The black community there told her they were descendants of Africans shipwrecked off the Pacific coast in 1900.

But it wasn’t until she traveled back last year that she realized what little she knew. There, traditions and customs rooted in Africa — such as “La Danza del Diablos,” or the dance of the devils — have survived.

“I didn’t know there was that much African culture in Mexico,” Sanchez Renero said. “They didn’t teach me that in school.”

Sanchez Renero dug deeper into Afro-Mexican history and culture, ultimately deciding to tell the story of Afro-Mexicans through a series of photographs called “The Cimarron and Fandango.”…

Read the entire article and view the photographs here.

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Black Mexicans face considerable hurdles

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2015-06-17 19:06Z by Steven

Black Mexicans face considerable hurdles

Compton Herald
2015-06-05

Alexis Okeowo

Mexicanos negros (black Mexicans) face considerable hurdles; Afro-Mexicans are marginalized and excluded to the point that it is impossible to find any mention of them in official records

The first town of freed African slaves in the Americas is not exactly where you would expect to find it — and it isn’t exactly what you’d expect to find either. First, it’s not in the United States. Yanga, on Mexico’s Gulf Coast, is a sleepy pueblito founded by its namesake, Gaspar Yanga, an African slave who led a rebellion against his Spanish colonial masters in the late 16th century and fought off attempts to retake the settlement. The second thing that is immediately evident to vistors who reach the town’s rustic central plaza: there are virtually no blacks among the few hundred residents milling around the center of town.

Mirroring Mexico’s history itself, most of Yanga’s Afro-Mexican population has been pushed to neighboring rural villages that are notable primarily for their deep poverty and the strikingly dark skin of their inhabitants. Mexico’s independence from Spain and new focus on building a national identity on the idea of mestizaje, or mixed race, drove African Mexicans into invisibility as leaders chose not to count them or assess their needs. Now many blacks want to fight back by improving the shoddy education and social services available to them and are petitioning for the constitution to recognize Afro-Mexicans as a separate ethnic group worthy of special consideration…

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From Chains to Chiles: An Elite Afro-Indigenous Couple in Colonial Mexico, 1641–1688

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2015-05-05 01:25Z by Steven

From Chains to Chiles: An Elite Afro-Indigenous Couple in Colonial Mexico, 1641–1688

Ethnohistory
Volume 62, Number 2, April 2015
pages 361-384
DOI: 10.1215/00141801-2854356

Pablo Miguel Sierra Silva, Assistant Professor of History
University of Rochester

This article explores the life of an elite Afro-indigenous couple in the city of Puebla de los Ángeles during the seventeenth century. Through the study of a freedman, Felipe Monsón y Mojica, and his indigenous wife, Juana María de la Cruz, I propose a new approach to the study of the African diaspora in the urban centers of New Spain (colonial Mexico). By combining an extensive corpus of notarial, judicial, and parochial records with isolated references to Puebla’s Nahuatl-language annals, this article also sheds light on city-dwelling native women who married enslaved men. I argue that formal unions of this type held enormous social, political, and commercial potential for Afro-indigenous couples to emerge as new political actors and urban patrons. In particular, the Monsón de la Cruz household rose to a position of preeminence in pardo religious and military corporations through commerce in indigenous agricultural products.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Black Blood Brothers: Confraternities and Social Mobility for Afro-Mexicans

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs, Religion on 2015-04-12 01:30Z by Steven

Black Blood Brothers: Confraternities and Social Mobility for Afro-Mexicans

University Press of Florida
2006-05-30
304 pages
6 x 9
Hardback ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-2942-9

Nicole von Germeten, Associate Professor of History
Oregon State University

Celebrating the African contribution to Mexican culture, this book shows how religious brotherhoods in New Spain both preserved a distinctive African identity and helped facilitate Afro-Mexican integration into colonial society. Called confraternities, these groups provided social connections, charity, and status for Africans and their descendants for over two centuries.

Often organized by African women and dedicated to popular European and African saints, the confraternities enjoyed prestige in the Baroque religious milieu of 17th-century New Spain. One group, founded by Africans called Zapes, preserved their ethnic identity for decades even after they were enslaved and brought to the Americas. Despite ongoing legal divisions and racial hierarchies, by the end of the colonial era many descendants from African slaves had achieved a degree of status that enabled them to move up the social ladder in Hispanic society. Von Germeten reveals details of the organization and practices of more than 60 Afro-Mexican brotherhoods and examines changes in the social, family, and religious lives of their members. She presents the stories of individual Africans and their descendants—including many African women and the famous Baroque artist Juan Correa—almost entirely from evidence they themselves generated. Moving the historical focus away from negative stereotypes that have persisted for almost 500 years, this study is the first in English to deal with Afro-Mexican religious organizations.

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