Mexico did not recognize its 1.38 million black citizens of African descent until last year, according to the Huffington Post.
In January 2016, 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, HuffPo reported.
If it wasn’t for México Negro, an activist group founded in 1997 by Sergio Peñaloza Pérez, a school teacher of African descent, it might not have happened at all. México Negro wants the constitutional recognition of Afro-Mexicans and more visibility of Afro-Mexican culture.
“We have been working for twenty years without much government response, so the events of the past year have been huge progress for us,” Peñaloza told The Huffington Post on the phone from his home in Cuajinicuilapa, Guerrero, one of the black Mexican towns.
They campaigned for census recognition and got it. They now want “constitutional recognition”. It’s unclear what that means. However, one blog says Africans settled Mexico and make up most of the population. The blog editor defines the constitutional changes needed this way: Currently, Mexicans of African descent are counted in the national census as part of the indigenous population. But, unlike the other indigenous groups, Afro Mexicans have no distinct language other than Spanish (there are over 60 languages in Mexico). They do not qualify for government and private educational grants and economic development support that are provided to the other indigenous communities that are identified by their language groups. Many Afro Mexicans still live in communities that are geographically isolated, with no roads, public utilities, hospitals, schools, etc., and in post-colonial, post-slavery conditions.
Mexico has preferred limiting recognition to those of European and native descent and calls them Mestizos. They have also identified Creole, but not those of African descent who want to recognize Africa and African culture.
One Afro-Mexican said “darkenss” in skin color is seen as a “negative”.
How can this be? Mexico’s leaders constantly call the U.S. racist. Our proposed border wall is racist. Our borders are racist.