Mexico's 2020 Census Counts Afro-Mexicans for the First Time
About 2.5 million people in Mexico identify as Afro-Mexican or of African descent.
According to Mexico's 2020 census, 2.5 million people in Mexico identify as Afro-Mexican or of African descent. The data collected marks the first time that Afro-Mexicans have been counted in the country.
The New York Times reported in 2014 that the closest the census had ever come to classifying race and ethnicity in the Mexican population was by asking which Indigenous language people spoke at home.
The Afro-Mexican community now knows that more than 2.5 million of them are living in the country, making up 2 percent of the population. They also know that the average age of an Afro-Mexican living in Mexico is 32. More than 7 percent of them speak at least one Indigenous language, and they live in Guerrero, Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Mexico City.
Afro-Mexicans have been fighting for recognition by their government for years. In the 16th century, around 200,000 slaves were sent to Mexico by Spanish conquistadors. Many do not know how far back their African ancestry can be traced, and their culture in Mexico has been ignored by textbooks and society.
"The story of the Black population has been ignored and erased from history," Israel Reyes, an activist and teacher in Mexico, told the BBC in 2016.
It wasn't until 2015 during the interim census that respondents were given the option to identify themselves as "negro." However, this is not a term used by all Afro-Mexicans; many use "moreno" or other local terms.
The 2020 census represents an official recognition of Afro-Mexicans as a minority, commemorating their history and helping to provide better services for their communities — while bringing all Mexicans closer in understanding the significance and impact of their African roots.