tapping the ‘third root’: mexico’s african history

August 17, 2007 at 1:14 pm | Posted in african diaspora, Black Folks, Vegan | 11 Comments

the highlight of my all too short trip to acapulco began to take shape in a conversation with a waitress. of course i was attracted to acapulco’s weather, bountiful (and peculiar) flora and of course! i had to see and swim with a few sea turtles. but my first initiative to connect with people and learn/share culture. this trip was no different especially since this mexico trip was a stop in the african diaspora. “es ustedes antropologicos?”, the waitress asks as i finished my tofu taco from 100% natural. with such a beautiful smile draping off of high cheek bones…and a honey brown complexion i couldn’t help but think of my grandmother – a harlemite raised by her bahamian father during the late 30’s…could there be a connection? it appears that mi abuelita’s twin sis was curious as to why nite*vision and i were so interested in “black” mexican history, particularly since we did not “look” the part of academicians. it so happened that favy was born in “la chica costaregion of mexico and strongly identifies as afromestiza and was very proud to speak about the various sades of brown in her family and other cultural aesthetics – just as every afromestiza was when we spoke to them. both, mine and favy ‘s, inquiries (researcher and my grandma) were explored by the “african by legacy, mexican by birth” installation at the caribbean cultural center and later by the mexican fine arts musuem in chicago (one of the largest mexican diasporic centers outside of cali). the untold history of yanga, vera cruz and the overlooked descendants of african and indigenous warriors in mexico is beginning to be revealed with initiatives from cultural groups like foroafromexico, researchers like bobby vaughn and others , and the afromexican cultural museum (formally known as el museo de las culturas afromestizas in cuajinicuilapa – a former palenque and one of the many southern towns densely populated with afromestizas. the mission is bring this unknown part (sometimes called the third root) of mexican history/present into the plain view. as we made more inquiry about la chica costa we came to find out that many diasporic africans come to mexico “on the low” to find out about the african roots in mexico. in fact in my attempt to quench some of the thirst started by the caribbean cultural center i came across an article written by a sister from texas who had made her was to cuaji, but there was very obscure info on the museum, address, contact info, webpage, etc. the mission was set and it was beautifully accomplished. in general acapulco is lovely, the weather, people, the natural scenery, the eco-touristy stuff, but the culture is with out a doubt worthy of study and participation. for more pictures of my trip check out my slide show. other sources of info on african mexican history (message board, afromex, etc.) **update** view the interview video clip with museum curator, carlos torres:

Address: Manuel Zarate S/N Col. Centro Cuajinicuilapa, Gro. Mexico

Telephone: (741) 414 12 31 Cor.elect.

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11 Comments »

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  1. i appreciate you bringing the rich history to the web. keep coming with the entries (and more frequently please!!)

  2. Very interesting article.

  3. I too truly appreciate you guys sharing this article. I’m from a town nearby Cuaji and enjoy learning about the African presence in Mexico. I was unfortunate to learn more about it, since in grade school(Mexico)they mention very little about Africans coming to Mexico.

  4. j.j.

    thanks for taking the time out to review this post. it means alot to me that you appreciate it. experiencing the museum was moving. and since there is so little information about the museum, la costa chica and the general african heritage of mexico available on the web, we felt this would be one way to show our appreciation for their ground-breaking work and commitment that the museum has done.

    • Hi. My preteen and I are seeking an Afro-Mexican community to visit this month – maybe the Costa Chica area. My interests are immersion into their culture, family stays, language schools, and to serve their community whole-heartedly in any capacity except building construction. I am also interested in visiting el museo de las culturas afromestizas, but I would have to travel from Mexico City which should be a 5 hour commute. (SIGH….)

      Do you know of any host families, language schools, great hostels, and volunteer opportunities, etc?

      I sincerely hope you can help.

      Best to you!

    • I live in Texas. I met a guy about two years ago. I took a look at him, and knew he was from mexico. I immediately said ” Hermano” He looked up and smiled. We began to talk. He was trying to figure out how I knew about where he was from. His features were Spanish, but had an African element to it. That day I was very happy,because I felt like I found a long lost brother. I grew up in the New York. My family is from the Dominican Republic. I knew growing up that mexico had to have had an african presence.

  5. I also appreciate this article. I am black student on a study abroad here in Mexico. At first i had no knowledge of Mexico and its amazingly long black history. I only stumbled upon an article about Vicente Guerrero while doing an last minute assignment. But I’ve only been looking into it for 45 min and i’ve learned so much. I have been here since august and at first it looked like a regular country. However, now it is October and I am beginning to see how racially confused and divided this country is. Actually , it’s beginning to become a little scary because for the last 45 mins i have went through various articles and it has gave me a few leads. I just going to throw out a few points of interest. Vicente Guerrero, Gabriel Zapata, Chiapas, Guatemala, Indigenous People. It’s going deeper & deeper. Also, a lot of things all starting to look related. I’m Really About To Look Into This. Something Funny Is Going On Here In Mexico.

  6. Hello and thank you for the very enlightening information. I especially appreciated learning about the Museum. Fascinating. I will definitely have to travel to this part of Mexico.

  7. Thank you for this incredibly educational piece. I was born in Colombia, South America – where there is also a clear division between Colombians who associate themselves more so with their African roots (such as myself), and those who choose to embrace their European influence while completely denying anything African. As “Latinos” (which is an inappropriate term/classification in and of itself) – we are composed of various races, but all details of our lives, whether it be physical features, cultural ways, or socioeconomic issues indicate that we are in fact people of the African diaspora. It is also true that throughout the countless centuries of influence, we’ve inherited many things (good and bad) from all of our ancestors (African, European, indigenous people of the land such as Taino, Inca, etc), and have even grown to develop different cultural practices that are entirely our own. For those “latinos” who purposely continue to live in ignorance – it is interesting to note that even the European cultures which you so strongly defend were at one point or another influenced by ancient African nations – so technically, even the European influence on your roots was technically never “pure”. Do the research and accept the truth.

    EJ
    aka Malik Ade-anca Shungu Manachama Mana-ima

  8. THANK YOU. IM FROM CUAJINICUILAPA, I LEFT MY TOWN 11 YEARS AGO AND SEEING AGAIN MAKES ME REALIZE HOW BEUTIFUL MY TOWN IS. IM GLAD THAT I CAN SHARE THIS WITH MY DAUTHERS SO THEY CAN LEARN ABOUT MY CULTURE.THANK U AGAIN

  9. Very interesting and educational. I’m 100% Chicano (Mexican from NYC) alot of my friends especially my African/American have told me that I have black features especially eyes and lips and I would laugh but I think its true because eventhough my family emigrated from Mexico City to New York, I’m sure their ancestors must’ve been from the coast of Mexico from places like Vera Cruz and Costa Chica and now i noticed that there are other members in my family that have Afro features..Its quite fascinating and now thrilled to learn more. Thanks for posting this rich article!


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