The Political Reemergence of Mexico’s “Invisible” Minority
Source: Fusion YouTube
Despite a half-millennium of life in Mexico, Afro-Mexicans have seen their political visibility decrease dramatically as the ideology of mestizaje (racial mixing) has become central to Mexican national identity. As in many parts of the Americas, how blackness is defined in Mexico is distinctive, unique to the convergence of circumstances that shaped identity through culture, economics, geography, ideology, and law. Today, the contemporary political landscape, with its interest in multiculturalism and the rectification of historical disadvantage, has pressed black Mexicans to seek greater administrative recognition. But with relatively small numbers and lacking a non-Spanish native language, Afro-Mexicans have been officially indistinct from either the majority non-indigenous and mestizo population or minority indigenous groups, unwilling to acknowledge the historical circumstances that have made recognition of Afro-Mexicans as a minority a priority and denying the financial and political support that such recognition would bring.
However, in 2015, an interim census allowed for respondents’ self-identification as “black”—itself a disputed term among Afro-Mexicans—for the first time, giving new visibility and coherence to the more than 1 million black Mexicans in the country. Mexican blackness—as defined historically, culturally, psychologically, and geographically—has joined the global stage of Afro-consciousness in the call for recognition and reparation of injustices against the community of African and Afro-descendent peoples. The official reemergence has attracted the attention of media outlets covering the renewed consciousness and political agency of Mexico’s “invisible minority.”
“Afro-Mexicans: No longer ‘erased’” (The Daily Kos, April 2016)
“The black people ‘erased from history’” (BBC, April 2016)
“Now Counted By Their Country, Afro-Mexicans Grab Unprecedented Spotlight” (NPR, February 2016)
“Mexico Finally Recognized Its Black Citizens, But That’s Just The Beginning” (The Huffington Post, January 2016)