“I think there are many more Afro-Mexican people”
The results of the 2020 Census should promote public policies for the benefit of communities, measures against racism and discrimination, and motivate anthropological and historical research, reflects the anthropologist from INAH María Elisa Velázquez.
Last Monday the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) presented the first results of the 2020 National Population and Housing Census, where, for the first time in the history of national censuses in Mexico, a section was included for the self-recognized community as Afro-descendant or Afro-Mexican.
In this way, it was possible to know that in our country there are at least 2 million 576,213 people self-assigned as Afro-Mexican, which represents 2% of the total counted population, that is, two out of every 100 people, practically double what was counted in the Intercensal Survey 2015, when for the first time in our country this criterion was included in an intermediate census study.
Another part of the general data disseminated by Inegi was that of the Afro population in Mexico, 50.4% correspond to women and 49.6% to men. Furthermore, 7.4% of the Afro-Mexican community speaks an indigenous language.
“We are very happy for those of us who have been working on this issue for 20 years: researchers, anthropologists, historians, but also Afro-Mexican organizations that have fought and demanded for decades to be included in the census. The importance is that both Afro-descendants and Afro-Mexicans have better living conditions and better public policies are developed for their benefit. There are many Afro-Mexican populations that face significant poverty conditions. There you have to attend to employment, work, health, education ”, declares the doctor in Anthropology María Elisa Velázquez Gutiérrez, head of the National Research Program for Afro-descendants and Cultural Diversity in Mexico of the National Coordination of Anthropology of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
On the other hand, he remarks, these data should facilitate fieldwork for the implementation of measures against racism and discrimination. Likewise, he indicates, academic activity should change substantively, for example, in the increase of scholars concerned with historical, demographic, and anthropological research of the Afro communities in the country.
“I always insist on this: we don’t have a museum dedicated to the subject. In the national museums, the history of Afro-Mexicans is not told, in the textbooks, their history is not told in a truthful and dignified way. Those of us who know about this issue have the challenge of carrying out dissemination campaigns, of knowledge, we need to make the history and the present of these populations more visible. There is a lot of work to do ”, underlines the INAH researcher.
The tabulated data of the basic questionnaire focused on ethnicity reveal that Guerrero (303,923) is the entity with the highest number of inhabitants who are recognized as Afro, followed by the State of Mexico (296,264), Veracruz (215,435), Oaxaca (194,474) and Mexico City (186,914). On the other hand, the states with the least inhabitants of this community are Zacatecas (15,951), Colima (13,574), and Nayarit (10,416).
The survey also reveals that, of the Afro community registered and over 15 years of age, 107,236 inhabitants are illiterate, 63,400 women and 43,836 men; that is, 4.16% of the Afro population considered in the census. Guerrero is one of the states with the highest illiteracy rate in the community, with 25,571 inhabitants in this condition, 8.4 percent.
What is pending?
“There is much to disaggregate. They gave us the numbers, now we have to see what problems Afro communities face and in which regions; the differences between women and men and youth. All these disaggregations help us to better understand how Mexican society is made up and what public policies should be carried out ”, adds the researcher.
Finally, she thinks: “I am happy with the result, but I think there are many more Afro-Mexican people. I believe that the more we talk about this issue and make it visible, the greater number of people will self-describe as African, Afro-descendant or black. I hope that in the survey five years from now and the next census we will see more of the Afro community ”, concluded Velázquez.
Afro-Mexican and Afro-descendant terms:
Afro-Mexican : is the person who was born in Mexico or has become a Mexican citizen.
Afro-descendant: it is the one that comes from the African diaspora: Haitians, Cubans, Central American Africans, for example, who reside in Mexico without having a nationality.