Mexico’s Afro-descendants are pushing for a bill to gain legal recognition in the national constitution as a way to combat anti-Black racism in the country, local media reported Tuesday.
The bill, supported by various senators and deputies, proposes the formal recognition of the existence of Mexico’s Afro-descendants so that they can be included in the national census and gain access to social services.
"We are joining senators and deputies to be recognized in the Federal Constitution and the missing federal states, so that the Mexican state pays off its historical debt with Afro-Mexicans,” said Sergio Peñaloza Perez, leader of the advocacy group Black Mexico (Mexico Negro).
Perez, whose organization has been fighting for over 15 years to gain legal recognition for Mexico’s half-a-million Afro-descendants, says he hopes this will translate into allocating funds for the “economic, cultural and social development of Afro-Mexican communities."
The news comes ahead of the 16th Meeting of Black Peoples to take place on Nov.13-14 in Oaxaca, Mexico. The event will be a meeting space to draft a series of proposals directed to Mexico and the international community to attain the recognition of Afro-Mexicans.
Mexico and Chile are the only countries in Latin America that do not legally recognize their Afro-descendants as a distinct ethnic group, which activists say exacerbates the problem of anti-Black racism.
In many ways, the deliberate absence of their ethnic recognition is tied to the dominant notion of the Mexican nation as mixed race, or mestizaje. That’s why Black Mexicans also want their history to be told in school textbooks as part of an effort to increase awareness that Mexico is in fact “plurinational.”