Colonial Mexico had the highest numbers of African slaves. Of the over one million casualties during the Mexican war of independence, most of them were Afro-Mexicans. Mexico’s commitment to harbor Black fugitive slaves triggered the Mexican-American war; she lost nearly 50 percent of her territory. After the war, Mexico undeterred, included in her constitution and continued her commitment to harbor fugitive slaves.
Not long ago, Mexican-American TV host and comedian George Lopez was handed his DNA ancestry results by Mariah Carey – after the question was posed as to whether he would fall under the proverbial one-drop (African) racial classifi cation. Lopez’s results showed a 4 percent African blood.
“Texican” actress Eva Longoria’s 3 percent African ancestry surfaced in DNA taken by PBS series Faces of America (Henry Louis Gates, Jr.). And National Geographic’s Genographic Mexican-American reference population attributes a 4 percent African contribution to the “La Raza” pool. The “Mestizo” – the proverbial “La Raza” Mexicano – customarily extols his Indian roots, and laments and or praises his Spanish roots – but rarely is the African part acknowledged.
The period of African slavery in Mexico began following devastation brought about by the inherent diseases of the Europeans, which infected and almost completely wiped out indigenous Mexicans. Having no natural immunity against smallpox, measles, typhoid, venereal diseases and other infectious maladies, natives were victims of ferocious epidemics in 1520, 1548, 1576-1579, and 1595-1596.
It is estimated that when Hernan Cortes arrived in Mexico in 1519, the indigenous population was about 27.6 million inhabitants. By 1605 only 1.7 million indigenous people had survived, a population decrease mulattoes; 15,000 Spaniards, and 80,000 Indians. Gemelli Careri, in his 1698 visit, concluded, “Mexico City contains about 100,00 inhabitants, but the greatest part of them are Blacks and Mulattoes by reason of the vast number of slaves that has been cessation of the slave trade the enslaved population steadily declined. However, the numbers of free Blacks grew and by 1810 comprised 10 percent of the population or roughly 624,000 people.
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