2.5 million people in Mexico identify as Afro-Mexican or of African descent, according to data collected by the country’s 2020 census and reported by Al Dia. The data marks the first time in Mexico’s history that Afro-Mexicans have been acknowledged and counted based on their specific heritage.
The question on the 2020 census form asked Mexicans, “By your customs and traditions, do you consider yourself Afro-Mexican, Black, or Afro-descendant?” According to a 2014 article in the New York Times, the closest the census had ever come to classifying race and ethnicity in Mexico’s population before this year was by asking which indigenous language people spoke in the home.
With this new data, the Afro-Mexican community now knows that more than 2.5 million of them are living in the country—which is 2 percent of the population. They also know that the average age of an Afro-Mexican living in Mexico is 32 and that 7.4 percent of them speak at least one indigenous language. Most Afro-Mexicans counted were from Guerrero, Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Mexico City.
An informal survey in 2015 gave Mexicans the option of identifying as Black. It listed the number of Afro-Mexicans in the country at 1.4 million people, or 1.2 percent of the population.
Afro-Mexicans have been fighting for recognition by their government for years. In the 16th century, approximately 200,000 slaves were sent to Mexico by Spanish conquistadors. Many Mexicans do not know how far back their African ancestry can be traced.
“The story of the Black population has been ignored and erased from history,” Israel Reyes, an activist and teacher in Mexico, told the BBC back in 2016.
The 2020 census results bring all Mexicans closer to understanding the significance and impact of African roots on their country.