Sagrario Cruz Carretero: Blackness Contextualized in Mexico

In the following excerpt from AfrolatinTalks hosted by The Afrolatin@ Project (a series of scholarly, relaxed conversations held at Cubana Social during the second day of Afrolatino Festival NYC 2015), Sagrario Cruz Carretero responds to the question: How is blackness contextualized in Mexico?

Reflection: Afrolatino Festival NYC 2015

First watch the video. Then read the transcription while listening to the excerpt. Later reflect on these questions.

Sagrario Cruz Carretero: Blackness Contextualized in Mexico

In Mexico officially blacks don’t exist, even though there’s a large population on the coast. If you go to Mexico, most Mexicans, or even Mexicans who are living here, they are going to tell you, “No, there are no blacks in Mexico”. But, it’s part of this blindness.

Since 1987 I started doing research about the evidences of African presence in my country. What evidences? Names of towns and cities, more than 40 in just Veracruz: Mozambique, Mozomboa, Congo, Cabo Verde, Mandinga, are Veracruz towns.

Music. Do you know “La Bamba”? Well, “La Bamba”, it’s an Afro Veracruzana music. The rhythms, 2 by 3. I cannot dance here, but the way we stomp, the way we sing, the call-and-response.

The food. Food has been a wonderful cultural feature to trace connections, similar dishes with different names. Fufú, mofongo, is mogo mogo in my town.

In 2006 it was a great exhibit, African Presence in Mexico: From Yanga to the Present. I was the co-curator of this exhibit and it traveled to many places around the United States. And it was a personal experience to find out pieces of art that start to narrate the history of African presence since pre-Columbian times that is denied. Even there are many, many archeological pieces with African features up to now that we are demanding recognition.

So, what we have now is presenting all the historical, cultural, musical evidences, a change in identity, to present to the Mexican government a request. We are here. We exist. We want legal and statistical recognition and we deserve public policies, better medical services, better education.

[Note: To learn more, read “Negro? Prieto? Moreno? A Question of Identity for Black Mexicans“, written by Randal Archibold, who we also interviewed during the Afrolatino Festival NYC 2015]

Additional Resources

To learn more about Sagrario Cruz Carretero, visit her official profile: Sagrario Cruz Carretero. Come back each day throughout August to see new interviews carried out during the Afrolatino Festival NYC 2015.

Related Unit