The Complicated History of Anti-Blackness in Mexico

This story is a part of The Melanin Edit, a platform in which Allure will explore every facet of a melanin-rich life — from the most innovative treatments for hyperpigmentation to the social and emotional realities — all while spreading Black pride.

This story originally appeared in an issue of Vogue Mexico. Para leer en español, haz clic aquí. 

How can you tell a story that has been deprived of its sound? Where do you begin a genuine tale that was always denied the possibility of being told? This is what happened with the Black population’s narratives in some parts of Mexico and Latin America; their mere existence is still often questioned by many worldwide. Over time, Black heritage has been pushed to the margins of every discourse and essentially disappeared. But today, some Afro-Mexicans are begun to reclaim their presence.

La tercera raíz (the third root), as they are described by some, refers to the slave population that came by boat shortly after the Spanish conquest of Latin America. Some of their names were registered, while the lives and identities of others were deleted without a single piece of paper proving their existence. And yet, they spread and populated the hidden corners of the region, blending their stories with those they encountered. This forced them to fall into the recesses of ignorance so that even today, they remain confined to invisibility.

While countries like Colombia or the Dominican Republic recognize their Black roots (although sometimes in very contradictory ways) in Mexico, the stories that keep the third root alive are still mostly absent. Finally, however, Mexicans of African origin have started to emerge from the silenced place where they were hidden for centuries. And they are gaining a voice.

Here, we introduce five of them: five lives marked by both ancient and contemporary struggles, who are experiencing the joy of reconnecting with their identity.

Alejandra Robles

On Alejandra Robles: Remigio Mestas textiles, Maritza Villegas jewelry

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