Mexico Finally Recognized Its Black Citizens, But That’s Just The Beginning

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2016-02-04 02:03Z by Steven

Mexico Finally Recognized Its Black Citizens, But That’s Just The Beginning

The Huffington Post

Krithika Varagur
Associate Editor, What’s Working

In Mexico, like everywhere, identity is complex.

Last month, for the first time ever, the Mexican government recognized its 1.38 million citizens of African descent in a national survey. The survey served as a preliminary count before the 2020 national census, where “black” will debut as an official category.

A major force behind the government’s recognition was México Negro, an activist group founded in 1997 by Sergio Peñaloza Pérez, a school teacher of African descent. México Negro works for, among other initiatives, the constitutional recognition of Afro-Mexicans and to increase the visibility of Afro-Mexican culture.

The Huffington Post recently caught up with Peñaloza to discuss his organization, why recognition matters and what’s next for black Mexicans…

Why Has It Taken So Long?

Until last month, Mexico was one of only two Latin-American countries (the other is Chile) to not officially count its black population. As a result, the move to recognize Afro-Mexicans has been met with some pushback from Mexicans who believe that mestizo identity (the mix between indigenous people and Europeans) is more important than specific ethnicities.

Mexico’s post-revolutionary government made a conscious effort to create a national mixed-race identity that melded Hispanic, indigenous and African ethnicities. Article 2 of Mexico’s 1917 Constitution recognized its “multicultural composition,” and today, over 60% of Mexicans identify as mestizos. So in modern Mexico, “blackness” is still a tenuous identity, and many use labels like “criollo” (creole) or “moreno” rather than the ones black Mexicans tend to prefer. Peñaloza, for instance, describes himself as “afrodescendiente (of African descent), negro (black), or afromexicano (Afro-Mexican).”…

Read the entire article here.

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