Afro Mexicans fighting for constitutional recognition now have a reason to celebrate. For the first time, Mexico’s national census included an “Afro” category.
The country’s 2015 population survey was released on Tuesday (December 8) and officially counted about 1.38 million people of African descent (about 1.2% of the country’s population).
The decision to include an “Afro” category is a major step toward recognizing the country’s Black population, many of whom are descendents of slaves forcibly removed from Africa during the height of the Atlantic slave trade. Mexico was one of only two Latin American countries (the other being Chile) that did not recognize its Black citizens on the national census. This stemmed in part from the ideological leaders of post-independence Mexico who created the concept of “mestizaje,” a national identity that did not incorporate Afro Mexicans. The result was the long-term marginalization and neglect of the nation’s Black population.
This new inclusion comes after much work from Afro-Mexican community activists who petitioned national leaders and organized for recognition. In addition, the country’s Human Rights Commission organized a forum earlier this year to address anti-Black discrimination and policies to fight it.