Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Black Mexicans & Black Peruvians

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post was inspired by the Henry Gates' PBS series Black In Latin America
Black in Latin America: Mexico and Peru: a hidden race
The almost unknown history their significant black populations.

“Far more African slaves came to Mexico and Peru together than came to the United States in the entire history of the slave trade.”


Q&A with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr

...why do you think there is a lack of knowledge about the black populations in Latin America?

Well, incredibly, there were 11.2 million Africans that we can count who survived the Middle Passage and landed in the New World, and of that 11.2 million, only 450,000 came to the United States. That’s amazing. All the rest went south of Miami as it were. Brazil got almost 5 million Africans. In part, this reflects our ignorance as Americans who don’t know that much about the rest of the world. But also, it is in part the responsibility of the countries in South America themselves — each of which underwent a period of whitening. In the hundred year period between 1872 and 1975, Brazil received 5,435,735 immigrants from Europe and the Middle East and this was a conscious policy after 1850 to “whiten” Brazil which was such a black country. Brazil is the second blackest nation in the world. Brazil has the second largest black population — black being defined by people of African descent in the way that we would define them in this country. It’s second only to Nigeria. But no one knows this. So it’s those two reasons, that the countries themselves went through long periods of being embarrassed about how black they were and secondly, our own ignorance. That’s why this series is so important. It’s meant to educate Americans, and people in Europe and the rest of the world, but it’s also meant to educate people in South America, too. And in each of these countries there is a political campaign against racism, for affirmative action, and for their right to exist where they don’t as census categories. For example, in Mexico and Peru, they are fighting for the right to be identified as black. As in France, many people in these countries thought that if you put that social identity in the census that it reinforces racism. But doing that also prevents people from organizing around race when they are discriminated by race. It’s a paradox. And it’s fascinating to see what is similar and dissimilar in each of these countries.

For Black in Latin America you visited Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru. How did you choose to focus on these particular six countries?

… No one thinks of Mexico and Peru as black. But Mexico and Peru together got 700,000 Africans in the slave trade. The coast of Acapulco was a black city in the 1870s. And the Veracruz Coast on the gulf of Mexico and the Costa Chica, south of Acapulco are traditional black lands. Here’s the punchline, Barack Obama the first black president in the New World? No way. Vicente Guerrero in 1829. Mulatto, just like Barack Obama. First President of Mexico.

Afro Mexicans

Uploaded by unique5589 on Sep 15, 2010

This video is about the African presence in Mexico. It includes a brief history of Afro Mexicans and famous Afro Mexicans. It is in English and Spanish.

The term Afro Mexican is referring to someone of African and Mexican origins. Of course, African descendants have other roots and lineages too...

It should be noted that many persons of African descent in "Latin" America and the Caribbean do not refer to themselves as, "Afro + nationality" but either as "negros", "afrodescendiente" or by their nationality.

african presence in mexico

Uploaded by ahsed76 on Jan 27, 2009

brief intro into an exhibit focused on Africa's presence in Mexico,and mexico's "third root"

Peru is diversity- Black and Proud in Peru

B. Melzi, Published on Sep 16, 2013

Bibiana Melzi : Director
Photography and Editing: Carlos Paz / José Yactayo
Executive Production: Celeste Paz
Music Audio Network

Produced by The World Bank and Ministry of Culture of Peru
Copyright 2013
April 17, 2018: This video replaces one that is no longer available.

Peru afro dance of Chincha

Uploaded by kawash125 on Jan 9, 2007

this is a typical dance of Chincha in Peru.


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  1. Here's a link to a preview of PBS' Black In Latin America series hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates:

    There are 200+ comments from viewers, making that article very interesting reading.

  2. Here's the comment that I added to the viewer comment thread of the video "Black Beauty in Peru":

    Thank you for posting this video! There is SO MUCH about the histories & cultures of People of Color that isn't taught in schools. We have to learn it on our own. This is made easier because of YouTube videos such as this one. I added this video & 3 more to a post entitled Black Mexicans & Black Peruvians on my pancocojams blog. The purpose of that blog is to increase awareness of African American & other Black cultures.

    Thanks again!

    -an African American sista

  3. Thank you for these enlightening videos. They are a great help to my research.

    1. You're welcome, Geo Storm.

      I'm glad these videos are helpful to you.