• afro mexicans2
    • afro mexicans2

The black descendants of slaves in Mexico struggle against entrenched racism. Alexis Okeowo explores the so-called first free slave town in the Americas ...

The first time I felt deeply uncomfortable being black was when I was a kid. My family had just moved to Alabama, and I was in a car with my father and my brother. A white woman with a harshly lined face and brown frizzy hair yelled out a racial slur as we drove by. Dad immediately put the car in reverse and drove over to her as she pumped gas at a filling station. "What did you say?" he demanded. She glared at him and refused to respond. Shocked into silence, my brother and I didn't say anything for the rest of the drive home. The second time was in a quaint town in Mexico. I am a journalist living in Mexico City and I had decided to take a trip to Veracruz, where hundreds of thousands of African slaves had been brought by Spanish colonialists five centuries prior. I wanted to visit Yanga, a place that called itself "the first free slave town in the Americas". The town was named for Gaspar Yanga, a slave who had led a successful rebellion against the Spanish in the 16th century. Continue reading

Special to MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE / Author: Alexis Okeowo / Picture credit: Cornell University Library

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