Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

These concepts are socially constructed and have been given much weight. What are your thoughts?
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Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by Shox112 » June 16th, 2007, 11:53 am

AfriGeneas Western Frontier Forum

AFRO MEXICANS: IN MEXICO AND CALIFORNIA

Posted By: Bennie McRae <Send>
Date: Wednesday, 9 March 2005, at 10:24 a.m.

Posted by permission
--------------------

AFRO MEXICANS: IN MEXICO AND CALIFORNIA

By Alva Moore Stevenson
© 2003

Scholars such as Ivan Van Sertima (They Came Before Columbus) assert that Egyptians and Nubians came to Mexico in the Pre-Columbian period (c.1200 BC). The Olmec civilization may be descended from or had contact with Africans. He cites as evidence the African facial features of the Olmec heads at La Venta, Tabasco and San Lorenzo. Van Sertima’s research is controversial and not widely accepted by mainstream historians. Those in the field would probably agree that Blacks who accompanied the conquistadors were the first persons of African descent in Mexico. One of the earliest was Juan Garrído who accompanied Hernán Cortes (c.1519) and participated in the fall of Tenochtitlan. Afro Mexicans in the 16th century fell into three categories: slaves; unarmed auxiliaries (servants and slaves) and armed auxiliaries such as Garrído who obtained their freedom. He was also credited with introducing wheat into the Americas. According to Matthew Restall (Black Conquistadors), “it is primarily after this date [1510] that armed black servants and slaves begin to play significant military roles in Spanish conquest enterprises.”

The first Africans brought to Mexico as slaves came with the party of Pánfilo Narváez also in 1519. They replaced Indios in the early 1500s because of European-imported diseases that had decimated the indigenous population. In the period between the mid-16th and the mid 17th centuries, the numbers of Africans at times exceeded the indigenous population. In addition for a very short time more Africans were imported into Mexico than any other part of the Americas. As in other parts of Latin America, slaves resisted their oppression. These maroons or cimarrones were reported to have fled and settled in such places as Coyula, Cuaxinecuilapan and Orizaba. One of the more famous was Gaspar Yanga, reportedly descended from a royal family, who led a revolt on the sugar plantations of Veracruz in 1570. He led his followers into the nearby inaccessible mountains and kept the forces of the Crown at bay for many years. Unprecedented in Mexican history, the Crown acceded to a treaty in 1630 which included freedom for the Yanguícos; self-government; and a farmable land grant.
The import of African slaves had all but ceased by the mid-16th century. What the Spaniards were confronted with in Mexico was an increasingly mixed society racially due to miscegenation. These castas or person of mixed blood not only blurred and crossed the racial lines but economic ones as well. R. Douglas Cope (The Limits of Racial Domination) describes the Spaniard’s dilemma:
“Stunning wealth and wretched poverty, elegance and squalor, and sophistication and ignorance all existed side by side. Hispanic order [was imposed] on a recalcitrant population. In short the elite faced a rising tide of mixed-bloods, blacks, Indians and poor Spaniards that (in their view)threatened to submerge the city into chaos.”

The Spanish-casta dichotomy gave way to a social dichotomy based on culture and economics and not race. To reinforce their exclusive class, a sistema de castas or caste system was instituted in Mexico as a method of social control. This was a hierarchical ordering of racial groups according to their limpieza de sangre or purity of blood. That is—their place in society corresponded to their proportion of Spanish blood. Cope says that the castas for the most part eschewed the sistema:

“[By the late 16th century] Africans and Afro-Mexicans created a ‘sphere of relative autonomy.’ Their unity and boundaries didn’t shield them from ‘ideological or structural oppression.’ Through these multiple identities they structured social relations and built boundaries of kinship and family. Multiple Black boundaries were characterized by interactions between ethnic Africans, Africans and Creoles, Negros, Mulatos, and Moriscos. In turn this reflected a wide range pf African and Afro Mexican identities. Persons of African descent were only united though contact with the
non-African ‘other.’…This did not mean Africans...left their culture behind. Rather they molded it to fit circumstances [In the New World].”

It should also be noted that Afro Mexicans such as Vicente Guerrero played critical roles in Mexico’s independence of August, 1821. A champion of rights for all regardless of color and the country’s second president; Guerrero was one of the signers of the Plan of Iguala The Plan led to Mexico’s freedom from Spain and gave all men and women--regardless of color-- full citizenship.

Martha Menchaca (Recovering History, Constructing Race) discusses the reasons behind the northward migration of Afro Mexicans and other non-white Mexicans in the early 19th century:

“Blatant racial disparities became painfully intolerable to the non-white population and generated the conditions for their movement
toward the northern frontier, where the racial order was relaxed and
people of color had the opportunity to own land and enter most occupations.”

In the period up to 1848 and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the sistema “which was designed to ensure the maintenance of caste…quickly disintegrated on its northern frontier, allowing persons of African ancestry remarkable social fluidity.” Like the castas in that time period in Mexico City, early African American Californians were “uninterested in the complexities of the sistema de castas.” It did not dictate daily life. The ambiguity of the sistema made possible the success of Afro-Mexicans Andres and Pio Píco. Píco was the last Mexican governor (1831, 1845-46) of California. A “consummate politician and ‘revolutionist’ “ Pio Píco was also a wealthy landowner, military commander and Los Angeles city councilman (1853). His brother Andres represented California at the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga (1847) ending the Mexican War in California. He also served as state senator (1851, 1860-61). Not only in California but across the southwest, “afromestizos were part of the population that founded Nacogdoches, San Antonio, Laredo, La Bahía, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara.”

Several of the pobladores recruited by the Spanish Crown to settle Los Angeles in 1781 were of African descent. Of the afromestizos in the group some hailed from Rosario, Sinaloa—a town where many of the residents were of African descent. Indeed the Píco family also hailed from Rosario. Among the afromestizo families who became prominent landowners and politicians in Southern California during the late 18th-early 19th century were the families of Luís Quintero; María Rita Valdez; Juan Francisco Reyes and José Moreno.

In contemporary Mexican society the sistema no longer functions overtly but Afro Mexicans remain largely marginalized and occupy places at the lowest rung of the economic ladders. Bobby Vaughn, a scholar of Afro Mexican Studies, asserts that issues of race in Mexico have “been so colored by Mexico’s preoccupation with the Indian question that the Afro Mexican experience tends to blend almost invisibly into the background, even to Afro Mexicans themselves.” The national focus on Mexican identity as a dichotomy of Spanish and Aztec-Mexica-Maya or indigenismo-mestizaje effectively excludes them. Anani Dzidzienyo (No Longer Invisible) characterizes it as follows, “mestizaje ignores Blacks to such an extent that it would make all Blacks mestizos of some sort.”

Since the mid 1990s, Afro Mexicans from thirty African-descent areas are convening in what is called an “Encuentro de Pueblos Negros” or a gathering of Black towns. Led by Father Glyn Jermott they are organizing, in his words, "… to relate our common history as black people, to strengthen our union as communities, to organize and open realizable paths to secure our future, and to resist our marginalization in the life of the Mexican nation." Their movement parallels similar ones involving African-descended peoples in Guatemala, Belize and the Honduras.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Bennett, Herman Lee. Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570-1640. Indiana University Press, 2003

2. Bennett, Herman Lee. Lovers, family, friends,: The formation of Afro Mexico, 1580-1910. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1993.

3. Cope, R. Douglas. The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City, 1660-1720. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994.

4. Dzidzienyo, Anani. “Conclusions.” No Longer Invisible: Afro-Latin Americans Today. Minority Rights Group, ed. London: Minority Rights Publications, 1995.

5. Gibbs, Michele, “African Heritage Strong in Mexico. Afrikan.net Newsboard. Website: http://www.mumia.org/wwwboard/messages/354.html

6. Menchaca, Martha. Recovering history, constructing race : the Indian, Black, and white roots of Mexican Americans. Austin: University of Texas, Press, 2001.

7. Restall, Matthew. “Black Conquistadors: Armed Africans in Early America” The Americas. 57.2 (2000) 171-205

8. Van Sertima, Ivan. They Came Before Columbus. 1st Edition. New York: Random House, 1976.

9. Vincent, Theodore G. The Legacy of Vicente Guerrero, Mexico’s First Black Indian President. University Press of Florida, 2001.

Websites on Afro Mexicans and Afro Latinos

Africa's Legacy in Mexico
http://educate.si.edu/migrations/legacy/alm.html
Images of Afro Mexicans in Costa Chica region of Mexico by photographer Tony Gleaton at this site. These photographs were part of a Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition from 1993-1996.

Black Indian Mexico http://hometown.aol.com/fsln/index.htm
site created by Ted Vincent, retired UC Berkeley scholar who has lectured and published on the subject of Mexicans of African and Indian descent. Lots of information on this subject and includes reading list (bibliography).

Black Mexico Home Page http://www.afromexico.com/
Site created by Colby College professor Bobby Vaughn whose research focuses on Afro Mexicans in Costa Chica on Mexico’s west coast. In addition to Vaughn’s research, the site includes photo gallery on this community and book shelf (bibliography) on the general subject of Afro Mexicans.

AfroMexico http://www.afromexico.org/
Site created by filmmaker Rafael Rebollar (De Florida A Coahuila (From Florida to Coahuíla ­ The History of the Black Seminoles) and La Raíz Olvidada (The Forgotten Roots). His work focuses on African-descended peoples in Mexico.

Organization of Africans in the Americas (OAA) http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/6876/ Site devoted to the African-descent community in the Americas, “The OAA is established for charitable and educational purposes to improve the life chances and conditions of communities of African descent with special regard for those populations who speak Spanish and Portuguese.” Includes listing of OAA publications, articles activities.

Latin American Network Information Center http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/region/african/ Excellent portal to a whole range of websites on the African Diaspora in Latin America as well as the Caribbean.

***************************************************************************

Messages In This Thread

AFRO MEXICANS: IN MEXICO AND CALIFORNIA (views: 3228)
Bennie McRae -- Wednesday, 9 March 2005, at 10:24 a.m.

Re: AFRO MEXICANS: IN MEXICO AND CALIFORNIA (views: 325)
Allen L.Lee -- Wednesday, 9 March 2005, at 3:17 p.m.

Re: AFRO MEXICANS: IN MEXICO AND CALIFORNIA (views: 232)
Allen L.Lee -- Tuesday, 27 September 2005, at 3:01 p.m.

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Unread post by NICKELS » June 16th, 2007, 3:19 pm

YES , IVE READ THIS , WHITES ARE NOW STUDYING THIS , THEY ARE RESEARCHING THIS AS IF THEY KNEW THIS ALREADY,.......NOT FAIR WATCH THEY TAKE THE CREDIT FOR IT.

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Unread post by TAC MONSTER » December 3rd, 2007, 1:05 am

good read

i know a mexican guy who did a documentary about mexico's african root & the black villages in mexico.

i've been studying afro-latino culture & learn alot of stuff that i never knew.mexico has a rich black history & culture that alot of people don't know about, especially mexican americans.

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Unread post by Silencioso » December 3rd, 2007, 1:22 pm

Mexican people aren't in denial about Afro-Mexicans, they truly don't know about them. They're a very small population.

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Unread post by Silencioso » December 3rd, 2007, 1:25 pm

This BS about the Olmecs being black is ridiculous, though. They were Indians. Its like in the US there's this myth of white Indians, tribes that were descended from early European settlement that becam culturally Indian. It seems like both black and white people want to claim Indians as there own.

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Unread post by Sentenza » December 3rd, 2007, 1:31 pm

Silencioso wrote:This BS about the Olmecs being black is ridiculous, though. They were Indians. Its like in the US there's this myth of white Indians, tribes that were descended from early European settlement that becam culturally Indian. It seems like both black and white people want to claim Indians as there own.
Agree 100%

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Unread post by TAC MONSTER » December 3rd, 2007, 3:27 pm

Silencioso wrote:Mexican people aren't in denial about Afro-Mexicans, they truly don't know about them. They're a very small population.
this site says there are 1 million afro-mexicans in mexico.but mexicos pop. is over 100 million so they are about 1 percent or less.

http://whgbetc.com/mind/black-latin-america2.html

there is also alot of mexican "mestizos" who have black in them as a result of the mixing that went on in colonial times.but many don't know or deny this.

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Unread post by Silencioso » December 4th, 2007, 1:47 pm

That's true, alot of Mestizo people have some black ancestry. It's usually not visible though except occasionally frizzy hair.

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Unread post by eMachine » January 14th, 2008, 7:42 am

Ay ya yay! You have to understand something about European domination of places.

Take a look at the Natives in the USA, they were killed, marginalized, shunned, and hidden from view until last century.

Most people thought they were all dead, names in history books.

Mexico had the same problems, getting the government to acknowledge Mayans, etc has been a problem do you think there would be an even bigger problem with Africans? Guatemala in the 80's killed 1 million of their Mayans who were already poor and thrown into the background. El Sal, Colombia, Bolivia.

Did you know aside from the monuments, that these peoples were still alive? Now, everyone does because they are making a lot of noise.

This is what happens. Just like in Rwanda. Euros tend to split people based on skin hue and they tell the lighter people that they are better than their darker brothers. This is simple divide and conquer. After a while, particularly if there is "mixing", those who are lighter in an effort to deny their past, push the reminders of their whole makeup to the back burner to be more acceptable to whomever is the dominant group. When they do this, they really want to get rid of that reminder.

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Unread post by eMachine » January 14th, 2008, 8:31 am

Pressed the wrong button....

Anyhow, the reminders and talk of pride in ancestry was shunned if one wanted to be accepted by the 'establishment'. Its called killing a culture. You kill a culture not just by killing its leaders and people, but by making that part of a person, traditions, the original language, and customs, outward appearance, and family traditions something to be ashamed of. Then insert favorable culture. It gets to the point where half of the person is a complete unknown from the constant programming.

It wasn't until the late 90's that "mestizo" Mexicans as a large group have not only acknowledged Aztecs, Olemecs, Mayans (the brownish red - drk brown peoples) but have found pride in it. People wanting to now learn the indigenous languages, etc. Before, did you hear any noise about some mix with indios? Indios were relegated to the back, not seen on tv, not heard about, definitely not in government. No, it was shunned and it was like some type of shame. It still is to degree.

History. Divide to Rule.

Shame, just about every nationality around (including Euros) fought to free Latin America from Colonial rule.

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Unread post by Silencioso » January 14th, 2008, 11:21 am

Mexicans have been proud of their Indian roots for ever. Mexican currency even has Aztec symbols. There's Aztec pride all over Mexico, in art work, advertising, architecture. The problem is that many mestizo Mexicans are proud of their Indian heritage but look down on pure Indians. It's a strange hipocrasy.

The black issue is different. There hasn't been a large visible black population in Mexico since the early 1800's. The current black population in Mex. is very small and is mostly Mulattos. Genetic studies have shown Mestizo Mexicans usually have between 5 - 8% African ancestry. One drop bulls!t aside that's not alot compared to the European and Indian ancestry. Mestizos rarely look even remotely black.

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by sparkdatshit » June 17th, 2008, 1:02 am

I dint find out about this untill like 2 years ago.

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by 100 » June 23rd, 2008, 7:16 pm

I GOT A QUESTIOIN HOW COME YOU NEVER HERE ABOUT OR HERE THEM SPEAK ON THAT TRIBE IN MEXICO THAT WERE ENEMIES TO THE AZTECKS?

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by 100 » June 23rd, 2008, 7:27 pm

100 wrote:I GOT A QUESTIOIN HOW COME YOU NEVER HERE ABOUT OR HERE THEM SPEAK ON THAT TRIBE IN MEXICO THAT WERE ENEMIES TO THE AZTECKS?

ACTUALLY ON AMERICAN LATINO THEY DID A SEGEMENT ABOUT THE PRESENCE OF AFRICAN MEXICANS IN A VILLAGE CAKLLED YANGO GOOGLE IT OR YOUTUBE IT

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLLNndCLow0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAluH9kO ... re=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDNOhl0a ... re=related

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Unread post by jmaups2005 » June 24th, 2008, 10:01 pm

Silencioso wrote:This BS about the Olmecs being black is ridiculous, though. They were Indians. Its like in the US there's this myth of white Indians, tribes that were descended from early European settlement that becam culturally Indian. It seems like both black and white people want to claim Indians as there own.

they say that north american native americans descended from the annunaki that reigned atlantis and there is parts of greece and italy that are said to be apart of atlantis so white people claiming native americans as their own isnt completely totally out of the question? but one thing that im really fucking confused about is why is race so important?

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by NyClassic4ever » July 1st, 2008, 7:33 pm

Mexicans definately have a hypocrasy going on with Native American (Aztec) ancestry. On the one hand they like to boast about the accomplishments made by the original inhabitants of Mexico city area, but when it comes down to it the Spanish taught them to be ashamed of it. Being called "indio" is one of the biggest insults you can call someone. In the end do they want to be aztec related? No...but it is their biggest claim of contributions to civilization...and so the hypocrasy continues.

Why is race so important? That is what we have been taught by the europeans and it continues to this day. Even in Africa women are bleaching their skin to be lighter and in the dominican republic everyone claims to be a race lighter than what they are. Blacks have claimed to be indigenous and trigenos claim to be white. Race is really not important but it is presented to us as if it is THE MOST important aspect of ourselves. It is the first thing people see and judge us by when they see us.

Many people have said here that the black population is very small in Mexico. I agree BUT just as many mestizos acknowledge their indigenous roots although not visible anymore we need to acknowledge our black roots. The possibility of the average Mexican having Black roots is high when you consider the large numbers of blacks present in Mexico. Of course there still were many more "indians" and so the black population could be easily absorbed into the indian populations but it is there and needs acknowledgement.

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by Silencioso » July 11th, 2008, 12:31 pm

Here's Mexicos racial breakdown by state:
2004293681789306286rshy5.jpg
2004293681789306286rshy5.jpg (44.71 KiB) Viewed 11534 times

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by Silencioso » July 11th, 2008, 12:36 pm

I was a little surprised by those stats. Contrary to popular belief Mexico City isn't the most European area in Mexico, Sonora and Chihuahua are the most Euro.

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by Tre » January 23rd, 2010, 10:18 pm

Silencioso wrote:This BS about the Olmecs being black is ridiculous, though. They were Indians. Its like in the US there's this myth of white Indians, tribes that were descended from early European settlement that became culturally Indian. It seems like both black and white people want to claim Indians as there own.
Sentenza wrote:Agree 100%
There was a stone (Stela No.5) found at the heart of Olmec civilization that gives us a detailed account of what many of us knew all along, that the Olmecs originated Out Of Africa. It shows iconographic representations that the Olmecs were of African origin and more specifically from Nubia which was south of Egypt (now Sudan).

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by Tre » January 23rd, 2010, 10:37 pm

Image

In the lower left-hand corner of this stone, the Olmecs show us where they originated from. You can see wave curls at the bottom indicating an ocean and above this area several pyramids symmetrically spread out… all the exact same height and width. If you look even closer it’s not the pyramids of Egypt that’s being pictured here. In the front of these pyramids are chapels, fronted by distinctive pylon-structures which are uniquely Nubian.

Nubian style Pyramids (Meroe) are smaller and of steeper angle. Their general construction consisted of steep walls and chapels facing East.

Image

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by perongregory » January 24th, 2010, 3:58 am

^^^Damn, that's interesting.

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by youngspade » January 24th, 2010, 11:54 am

Carmelo Anthony Denver Nuggets (2003 - Present)*Puerto Rico*
Carlos Boozer Cleveland Cavaliers (2002 - 2004) Utah Jazz (2004 - Present) *Dominican Republic*
Nene Hilario Denver Nuggets (2002 - Present) *Brazil*


These niggaz def dont look Latin at all.....especially NENE I thought he was AFRICAN, and I thought Carmelo was just an American nugga lol!

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by youayntfresh » February 7th, 2010, 9:31 pm

Mexican officials say they dont want to get into race. In Mexico there is no race you just a Mexican, The White Mexicans and Afro Mexicans want to be acknowledge. Since it's not really a big issue most people dont even care about this.

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by whiskeyjack » February 8th, 2010, 6:39 am

youayntfresh wrote:Mexican officials say they dont want to get into race. In Mexico there is no race you just a Mexican, The White Mexicans and Afro Mexicans want to be acknowledge. Since it's not really a big issue most people dont even care about this.
thats a pretty solid approach the mexicans take, i respect that

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by Tre » February 8th, 2010, 8:30 am

They may not acknowledge it but racism is very ingrained in that culture. There’s a popular Mexican children’s show called ‘Cero En Conducta’ where blacks are made fun of all the time. In one episode this black student visits a Mexican school and every stereotype is used, from big lips to the student being mistaken for a Mexican who fell in the mud and shit!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ci1Q0T7kUY

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by whiskeyjack » February 19th, 2010, 12:02 am

Tre wrote:They may not acknowledge it but racism is very ingrained in that culture. There’s a popular Mexican children’s show called ‘Cero En Conducta’ where blacks are made fun of all the time. In one episode this black student visits a Mexican school and every stereotype is used, from big lips to the student being mistaken for a Mexican who fell in the mud and shit!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ci1Q0T7kUY
holy shit that youtube video is pretty racist, if people in mexico or the southern united states still think like that, that would explain the 40 year old, old enough to vote in grade 6 sitting down in class

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by youayntfresh » February 23rd, 2010, 8:26 pm

Tre wrote:They may not acknowledge it but racism is very ingrained in that culture. There’s a popular Mexican children’s show called ‘Cero En Conducta’ where blacks are made fun of all the time. In one episode this black student visits a Mexican school and every stereotype is used, from big lips to the student being mistaken for a Mexican who fell in the mud and shit!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ci1Q0T7kUY

Dude this is obviously comedy. you cant say the U.S. or any other country do not have comedy about race.

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by perongregory » February 23rd, 2010, 8:35 pm

Tre is right though and the racist attitudes spawn from the Spanish and the caste system they implemented when they colonized Mexico. You see it where ever Europeans colonized and there was a black population. Now that the physical presence of the colonizers are non-present the ingrained beliefs of them carry on.

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by k001869 » March 22nd, 2013, 8:17 am

Shox112 wrote:AfriGeneas Western Frontier Forum

AFRO MEXICANS: IN MEXICO AND CALIFORNIA

Posted By: Bennie McRae <Send>
Date: Wednesday, 9 March 2005, at 10:24 a.m.

Posted by permission
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AFRO MEXICANS: IN MEXICO AND CALIFORNIA

By Alva Moore Stevenson
© 2003

Scholars such as Ivan Van Sertima (They Came Before Columbus) assert that Egyptians and Nubians came to Mexico in the Pre-Columbian period (c.1200 BC). The Olmec civilization may be descended from or had contact with Africans. He cites as evidence the African facial features of the Olmec heads at La Venta, Tabasco and San Lorenzo. Van Sertima’s research is controversial and not widely accepted by mainstream historians. Those in the field would probably agree that Blacks who accompanied the conquistadors were the first persons of African descent in Mexico. One of the earliest was Juan Garrído who accompanied Hernán Cortes (c.1519) and participated in the fall of Tenochtitlan. Afro Mexicans in the 16th century fell into three categories: slaves; unarmed auxiliaries (servants and slaves) and armed auxiliaries such as Garrído who obtained their freedom. He was also credited with introducing wheat into the Americas. According to Matthew Restall (Black Conquistadors), “it is primarily after this date [1510] that armed black servants and slaves begin to play significant military roles in Spanish conquest enterprises.”

The first Africans brought to Mexico as slaves came with the party of Pánfilo Narváez also in 1519. They replaced Indios in the early 1500s because of European-imported diseases that had decimated the indigenous population. In the period between the mid-16th and the mid 17th centuries, the numbers of Africans at times exceeded the indigenous population. In addition for a very short time more Africans were imported into Mexico than any other part of the Americas. As in other parts of Latin America, slaves resisted their oppression. These maroons or cimarrones were reported to have fled and settled in such places as Coyula, Cuaxinecuilapan and Orizaba. One of the more famous was Gaspar Yanga, reportedly descended from a royal family, who led a revolt on the sugar plantations of Veracruz in 1570. He led his followers into the nearby inaccessible mountains and kept the forces of the Crown at bay for many years. Unprecedented in Mexican history, the Crown acceded to a treaty in 1630 which included freedom for the Yanguícos; self-government; and a farmable land grant.
The import of African slaves had all but ceased by the mid-16th century. What the Spaniards were confronted with in Mexico was an increasingly mixed society racially due to miscegenation. These castas or person of mixed blood not only blurred and crossed the racial lines but economic ones as well. R. Douglas Cope (The Limits of Racial Domination) describes the Spaniard’s dilemma:
“Stunning wealth and wretched poverty, elegance and squalor, and sophistication and ignorance all existed side by side. Hispanic order [was imposed] on a recalcitrant population. In short the elite faced a rising tide of mixed-bloods, blacks, Indians and poor Spaniards that (in their view)threatened to submerge the city into chaos.”

The Spanish-casta dichotomy gave way to a social dichotomy based on culture and economics and not race. To reinforce their exclusive class, a sistema de castas or caste system was instituted in Mexico as a method of social control. This was a hierarchical ordering of racial groups according to their limpieza de sangre or purity of blood. That is—their place in society corresponded to their proportion of Spanish blood. Cope says that the castas for the most part eschewed the sistema:

“[By the late 16th century] Africans and Afro-Mexicans created a ‘sphere of relative autonomy.’ Their unity and boundaries didn’t shield them from ‘ideological or structural oppression.’ Through these multiple identities they structured social relations and built boundaries of kinship and family. Multiple Black boundaries were characterized by interactions between ethnic Africans, Africans and Creoles, Negros, Mulatos, and Moriscos. In turn this reflected a wide range pf African and Afro Mexican identities. Persons of African descent were only united though contact with the
non-African ‘other.’…This did not mean Africans...left their culture behind. Rather they molded it to fit circumstances [In the New World].”

It should also be noted that Afro Mexicans such as Vicente Guerrero played critical roles in Mexico’s independence of August, 1821. A champion of rights for all regardless of color and the country’s second president; Guerrero was one of the signers of the Plan of Iguala The Plan led to Mexico’s freedom from Spain and gave all men and women--regardless of color-- full citizenship.

Martha Menchaca (Recovering History, Constructing Race) discusses the reasons behind the northward migration of Afro Mexicans and other non-white Mexicans in the early 19th century:

“Blatant racial disparities became painfully intolerable to the non-white population and generated the conditions for their movement
toward the northern frontier, where the racial order was relaxed and
people of color had the opportunity to own land and enter most occupations.”

In the period up to 1848 and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the sistema “which was designed to ensure the maintenance of caste…quickly disintegrated on its northern frontier, allowing persons of African ancestry remarkable social fluidity.” Like the castas in that time period in Mexico City, early African American Californians were “uninterested in the complexities of the sistema de castas.” It did not dictate daily life. The ambiguity of the sistema made possible the success of Afro-Mexicans Andres and Pio Píco. Píco was the last Mexican governor (1831, 1845-46) of California. A “consummate politician and ‘revolutionist’ “ Pio Píco was also a wealthy landowner, military commander and Los Angeles city councilman (1853). His brother Andres represented California at the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga (1847) ending the Mexican War in California. He also served as state senator (1851, 1860-61). Not only in California but across the southwest, “afromestizos were part of the population that founded Nacogdoches, San Antonio, Laredo, La Bahía, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara.”

Several of the pobladores recruited by the Spanish Crown to settle Los Angeles in 1781 were of African descent. Of the afromestizos in the group some hailed from Rosario, Sinaloa—a town where many of the residents were of African descent. Indeed the Píco family also hailed from Rosario. Among the afromestizo families who became prominent landowners and politicians in Southern California during the late 18th-early 19th century were the families of Luís Quintero; María Rita Valdez; Juan Francisco Reyes and José Moreno.

In contemporary Mexican society the sistema no longer functions overtly but Afro Mexicans remain largely marginalized and occupy places at the lowest rung of the economic ladders. Bobby Vaughn, a scholar of Afro Mexican Studies, asserts that issues of race in Mexico have “been so colored by Mexico’s preoccupation with the Indian question that the Afro Mexican experience tends to blend almost invisibly into the background, even to Afro Mexicans themselves.” The national focus on Mexican identity as a dichotomy of Spanish and Aztec-Mexica-Maya or indigenismo-mestizaje effectively excludes them. Anani Dzidzienyo (No Longer Invisible) characterizes it as follows, “mestizaje ignores Blacks to such an extent that it would make all Blacks mestizos of some sort.”

Since the mid 1990s, Afro Mexicans from thirty African-descent areas are convening in what is called an “Encuentro de Pueblos Negros” or a gathering of Black towns. Led by Father Glyn Jermott they are organizing, in his words, "… to relate our common history as black people, to strengthen our union as communities, to organize and open realizable paths to secure our future, and to resist our marginalization in the life of the Mexican nation." Their movement parallels similar ones involving African-descended peoples in Guatemala, Belize and the Honduras.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Bennett, Herman Lee. Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570-1640. Indiana University Press, 2003

2. Bennett, Herman Lee. Lovers, family, friends,: The formation of Afro Mexico, 1580-1910. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1993.

3. Cope, R. Douglas. The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City, 1660-1720. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994.

4. Dzidzienyo, Anani. “Conclusions.” No Longer Invisible: Afro-Latin Americans Today. Minority Rights Group, ed. London: Minority Rights Publications, 1995.

5. Gibbs, Michele, “African Heritage Strong in Mexico. Afrikan.net Newsboard. Website: http://www.mumia.org/wwwboard/messages/354.html

6. Menchaca, Martha. Recovering history, constructing race : the Indian, Black, and white roots of Mexican Americans. Austin: University of Texas, Press, 2001.

7. Restall, Matthew. “Black Conquistadors: Armed Africans in Early America” The Americas. 57.2 (2000) 171-205

8. Van Sertima, Ivan. They Came Before Columbus. 1st Edition. New York: Random House, 1976.

9. Vincent, Theodore G. The Legacy of Vicente Guerrero, Mexico’s First Black Indian President. University Press of Florida, 2001.

Websites on Afro Mexicans and Afro Latinos

Africa's Legacy in Mexico
http://educate.si.edu/migrations/legacy/alm.html
Images of Afro Mexicans in Costa Chica region of Mexico by photographer Tony Gleaton at this site. These photographs were part of a Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition from 1993-1996.

Black Indian Mexico http://hometown.aol.com/fsln/index.htm
site created by Ted Vincent, retired UC Berkeley scholar who has lectured and published on the subject of Mexicans of African and Indian descent. Lots of information on this subject and includes reading list (bibliography).

Black Mexico Home Page http://www.afromexico.com/
Site created by Colby College professor Bobby Vaughn whose research focuses on Afro Mexicans in Costa Chica on Mexico’s west coast. In addition to Vaughn’s research, the site includes photo gallery on this community and book shelf (bibliography) on the general subject of Afro Mexicans.

AfroMexico http://www.afromexico.org/
Site created by filmmaker Rafael Rebollar (De Florida A Coahuila (From Florida to Coahuíla ­ The History of the Black Seminoles) and La Raíz Olvidada (The Forgotten Roots). His work focuses on African-descended peoples in Mexico.

Organization of Africans in the Americas (OAA) http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/6876/ Site devoted to the African-descent community in the Americas, “The OAA is established for charitable and educational purposes to improve the life chances and conditions of communities of African descent with special regard for those populations who speak Spanish and Portuguese.” Includes listing of OAA publications, articles activities.

Latin American Network Information Center http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/region/african/ Excellent portal to a whole range of websites on the African Diaspora in Latin America as well as the Caribbean.

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Messages In This Thread

AFRO MEXICANS: IN MEXICO AND CALIFORNIA (views: 3228)
Bennie McRae -- Wednesday, 9 March 2005, at 10:24 a.m.

Re: AFRO MEXICANS: IN MEXICO AND CALIFORNIA (views: 325)
Allen L.Lee -- Wednesday, 9 March 2005, at 3:17 p.m.

Re: AFRO MEXICANS: IN MEXICO AND CALIFORNIA (views: 232)
Allen L.Lee -- Tuesday, 27 September 2005, at 3:01 p.m.
Christ how many times are we going to hear this Olmec african link.

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by alexalonso » April 9th, 2013, 3:16 am

is there not a link between indigineous groups in the Americas with Africa and Asia?

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by Unity84 » August 19th, 2013, 12:06 am

Bottom line everybody comes from Africa whether y'all like it or not

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Re: Afro-Mexicans: HOW COME NO OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT???

Unread post by istekse818 » August 30th, 2013, 1:25 pm

Bottom line africans were not in this continent before 1492 u get no official recognition because its just afrocentric culture stealers

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