AFRICANGLOBE – For the first time in the nation’s history, Mexico’s Census Bureau (INEGI) included a distinct category for people of African heritage in the country. INEGI found that 1.38 million people identify as having African heritage, representing 1.2% of the country’s population.
First reported by Quartz, Mexicos’ 2015 Population Study, released on Dec. 8, found that the coastal state of Guerrero had the highest Afro-Mexican population with seven percent of the people identifying as such.
Including Afro-Mexicans on the census marks a huge step towards greater inclusion of Black communities in Mexico and Latin America. Although Mexico lacks a history of overt racial animosity (they abolished slavery in 1829), many Afro-Mexicans still face persecution and discrimination comparable to their American counterparts.
As NYTimes notes, many Mexicans of African descent kept to themselves in scattered communities in Guerrero, Oaxaca and Veracruz. Many believe this isolation has kept them from becoming fully accepted into Mexican culture and has led to increased poverty in their communities. In fact, the census report found that those who identified as Afro-Mexican were generally poorer and less educated and the national average.
However, it appears that the future may hold good things for the Black communities of Latin America. This year marks the first of the United Nation’s international decade for people of Africa descent, and just last month, Mexico’s head of the senate’s commission on indeigenous rights accepted a proposal to have Black mexicans formally recognized in their constitution.