‘We exist. We’re here’: Afro-Mexicans make the census after long struggle for recognition

The Afro-Mexican population are often overlooked in Mexico’s cultural mosaic, but 2020 marked a statistical first

When Bulmaro García encounters military checkpoints in Mexico’s southern Guerrero state, soldiers sometimes ask him to sing the national anthem to prove his nationality. García, a black man from the remote Costa Chica region, always refuses, and instead schools the soldiers – usually from other parts of Mexico – in local history. “We exist. We’re here. We occupy this area. We have a culture and we proudly say that we’re Mexicans,” he said. He attributes the soldiers’ ignorance to “classic discrimination due to skin colour. [They think] if you’re black, you’re not Mexican.”

The Afro-Mexican population has long struggled for recognition in an overwhelmingly mestizo country where the indigenous past is lionized but lighter skin colour is often reflected in social advancement and higher incomes. This year’s census – which is being collected throughout March – marks the first time the country is counting its Afro-Mexican population, providing official recognition for a people often overlooked in the Mexican cultural mosaic.

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