Afro-Mexicans: Photographer Captures Culture of ‘Hidden People’

PHOTO: Maria Sanchez Renero. (

PHOTO: Maria Sanchez Renero. (

In a special report for CNN by Abby Reimer, the writer reports on the invisibility of Afro-Mexicans, many of whom are descendants of the 200,000 Africans brought to Mexico under slavery, which ended in the country in 1829. The headline refers to Afro-Mexicans as the ‘Hidden People,’ who reside mostly on the margins of society and historical memory. The article profiles photographer Mara Sanchez Remero who first learned of the black community in Mexico as a teenager.

PHOTO: Maria Sanchez Renero (

PHOTO: Maria Sanchez Renero (

Reimer writes:

“The black community there told her they were descendants of Africans shipwrecked off the Pacific coast in 1900.

But it wasn’t until she traveled back last year that she realized what little she knew. There, traditions and customs rooted in Africa — such as “La Danza del Diablos,” or the dance of the devils — have survived.

‘I didn’t know there was that much African culture in Mexico,’ Sanchez Renero said. ‘They didn’t teach me that in school.’

Sanchez Renero dug deeper into Afro-Mexican history and culture, ultimately deciding to tell the story of Afro-Mexicans through a series of photographs called “The Cimarron and Fandango.'”

Black Mexicans 3

PHOTO: Maria Sanchez Renero (

In Mexico, Afro-Mexicans are not recognized by the Mexican Constitution and are not counted in the national census. There are nearly half a million Afro-Mexicans, many of whom are fighting for their civil rights like people of African descent throughout the world. Some suspect that there are millions of Afro-Mexicans who remain unaccounted for because Mexico does not collect data on race.

Read more at Remero and Afro-Mexicans at

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