Vasconcelos divided white people into Saxons and Latinos, the former represented by English and Dutch, the latter by Spanish and Portuguese. He conceded that Saxons have the political and economical control of the Americas, and used these pages to issue a call for Latin Americans to transcend their political divisionism, of Saxon creation according to him, and to unite to confront the Saxons Castro Gomez explains: In Vasconcelos we find also an identification of the "Latin spirit," characteristic in Hispanic America, with the intuition of life, with feeling, with the irrational and beauty.
Such a contrast between "Latin" and "Anglo-Saxon" symbolizes, at the bottom, the opposition between order embodied in the idealism of the 31 Hispanic-catholic culture and "chaos" embodied in the North American pragmatism and voluntarism , where order is understood as a synonym of harmony, and "chaos" as a synonym of "dissonance. According to Luz Maria Martinez Montiel the existence of humanity can be traced back two and a half million years. She explains: The history of Africa in its beginning is the history ofthe appearance and evolution of man, the development of human groups, their dispersion and the formation of societies whose way of life, technical inventions, traditions and cultures have a significant place in universal history.
Its importance is definitive among the rest of the nations and peoples of the world; notwithstanding, that history is little known. Vasconcelos proposed in La raza a type of mestizaje that was supposed to have allowed what he called "inferior races" to transcend their biological, social and spiritual condition. Pointing out similar characteristics of inherent superiority, 32 Jackson denotes two patterns in Latin American ethnic relations. The first, a "pattern characterized largely by white racism, slavery and racial oppression The second "is embodied in the concept of miscegenation or mestizaje, a process that, while loosely defined as ethnic and cultural fusion, is often understood to mean the physical, spiritual and cultural rape of black people" The Black 1.
Moreover, in his study of Afro-Mexico, Patrick Carroll states that: given their slave condition, their ethnic group and color, the Spanish saw Africans and their descendants, whether enslaved or free, with their discernible physical characteristics, as inferior. Indians also found reasons to limit their contact with black Americans, identifying them, just as Spanish did, as foreigners based on race and ethnic group. According to Vasconcelos the "fifth universal race, fruit of the ones before, and betterment of the past ones" 4 was supposed to trace its origins in "the abundance of love that allowed the Spaniards to create a new race with Indians and blacks" While it is true that there was a wide process of amalgamation 33 of various human ethnicities in Mexico, most of the mixing of whites with Amerindians or castas took place outside of wedlock, for the marriage records and the physical characteristics of the Mexican population are contradictory.
On the one hand, Spaniards would seldom marry outside of their group and, when they did, it was with criollos or, as a last resort, with "Euro-mestizos," or mestizos who appear as white. On the other hand, according to Aguirre Beltran, by the growing mestizo population in New Spain reflects a greater amount of mixing activity outside of matrimony between the Spanish, the Indian, and castas populations This indicates that mixing between whites and their supposed inferiors took place more than what was officially accepted, and that bastard 3 5 children or "hips de la chingada" sons of bitches were walking around everywhere as living proof of their fathers' actions.
In further support of this Enrique Florescano has said: Even when the castas were numerically and socially important from the middle of the 16 t h century, they are almost not registered in that century or in the following.
Since they were offspring of non-formalized sexual relations, they had an occult or disguised social life. This group came to be the more discriminated by written and non-written laws, and the greatest social prejudices were concentrated against this group. According to Martin Luis Guzman, who knew Basave Benitez points out that soon after the new "race" was being created "mestizap" and "bastard" became synonyms Basave He also mentioned "Chinese who reproduce as mice" which, according to him, is "proof of lower zoological instincts;" he sympathized with and justified the rejection of this "race" by "the superior ones" His charge against Asians continued when he described, "the Mongol with the mystery of his oblique eye, that sees all in accordance with a strange angle" According to Jose Jorge Gomez Izquierdo, "xenophobia and racism acquired a presence in the ideology of the Revolution from its onset.
This ideology helped to create the sense of national identity among Mexicans" Jackson draws attention to the fact that negative images of dark skinned people "reflecting nineteenth century mentality on race, surprisingly, have not been completely discarded in the twentieth century" The Black Furthermore, this ideology in post-revolutionary Mexico, beyond being embraced, was disseminated; it was used as a foundation in the making of "the modern social order" Carroll Jackson points out that the negative opinions "of New World intellectuals" are inherited from "the old prejudices of the colonial ruling classes" that had these intellectuals "convinced of the inferiority of the dark races" The Black The sensuality ascribed to blacks, the dance and lust, are examples of "preconceptions, misconceptions and stereotypes" that "while giving false if not one-sided images of the black, at the same time help indicate racist feelings toward black people among Latin-American authors.
Vasconcelos' literary representation of whites, blacks and others evokes the two separate worlds that developed in Mexico after the arrival of the Spanish. Ted Vincent's description of these worlds may help explain further how mentalities, such as Vasconcelos,' were formed: The Mexican elite had mansions, a university, monasteries, numerous cities to visit in, great governmental buildings to hang out in, and had the bishop's cloister for social teas and poetry readings. A tight and exclusive circle of wealthy whites and their lackeys hid in the mansions drinking Spanish wine, eating "white" bread, and practicing the 'Minuet.
Arturo Melgoza says, "we know that blacks would gather in the central square of Mexico City to sing and dance Vasconcelos accepted what he called "the higher ideals of white men" 23 and envisioned that "perhaps among all characters of the fifth race white characters will dominate. His subscription to the bleaching out of dark people is evident when he said, "In the Iberoamerican world Vasconcelos' aesthetics, the white aesthetics, found in the literature of other parts of the Americas, materializes when he asks, "why should it matter that all races mix if ugliness will find no cradle?
He explained that if up to his time there had been no great improvement of the species, it was due to the living conditions of "agglomeration and misery, where it has not been possible for the free instinct of beauty to work. It becomes obvious that Vasconcelos thought very little of the physical and cultural mixing that had taken place for over four centuries, up to the post Revolutionary era when he says: "we are not in a position to even imagine the modalities and the effects of a series of interbreeding truly inspired.
In Vasconcelos' view: the inferior races, after becoming educated, would be less prolific, and the better specimens will ascend in a scale of ethnic improvement whose ultimate type is not precisely the white man but a new race that whites themselves would have to aspire to be in order to conquer the synthesis. He believed that "in a few decades of eugenic aesthetics blacks could disappear along with those types marked by [his idea of] beauty as fundamentally recessive [and therefore] unworthy of reproduction" However, he explained clearly that his theory differed from "brutal Darwinist selection"'due to the fact that "interracial" mixing in his model would be a result of taste In his doctrine he found justification for his perspective because he was willing to mix with other "races," while the English would not dare because they "think blacks are a species closer to apes than to white man" He taught, "every ascending culture needs to construct its own philosophy.
Araña Negra by Blasco Ibañez
Vasconcelos proposed the need to "reconstruct our ideology and organize according to a new ethnic doctrine our continental life as a whole" He underlined that "Christianity frees and engenders life because it contains a universal revelation in itself and sees Jesus Christ as "the author ofthe greatest movement in history" There are two points to be emphasized here.
On the one hand, Vasconcelos, still a symbol of a secular revolution, promoted religion although it had been constitutionally banned from education since after the Reform War. On the other, the Cristero war was brewing during the time of his conceptions in La raza, and his thinking could not be construed as 39 helping the side he represented. Vasconcelos believed that all factors needed for his "fifth race" were present in the Iberian part of the continent alone, namely: spirit, "race," and land.
He explained that there and then "the universal era of humanity could be started" because the "Nordic man, master of action," was present along with "the black man with a reserve of potentialities that come from the remote days of Lemuria"Z7 39 and "the Indian who saw Atlantis perish but who keeps a quiet mystery in his conscience" Jose Vasconcelos thought that all peoples and all abilities were there and that the one thing lacking was "the true love to organize and set on its way the law of history Jose Vasconcelos' views on mestizaje have started to be questioned recently, perhaps as a result of the Civil Rights, Black is Beautiful, and Chicano Power movements in the United States, the Cuban Revolution and other no less important movements in favor of a black identity throughout the Americas and the world.
This can be observed where Patrick J. Carroll mentions that there are two 3 6 I thank my brother and colleague for reminding me that the Universidad National Autonoma de Mexico, UNAM, The Mexican National Autonomous University owes its logo—"por mi raza hablara el espiritu" my spirit shall speak for my race —to Vasconcelos. Interesting also is that lemurs are a subclass of primate mammals from Madagascar in Africa and from Malaysia.
Ted Vincent relates that the black slaves from Asia came from Malaysia, New Guinea, and the southern Philippine Islands, including the island of Negros so named because the Negritos lived there Vincent 2. He analyzed Afro-Mexicans in Veracruz and concluded, "An initial analysis of Afroveracruzanos suggests that their role, active or proactive, in the process of social interweaving between whites and Indians, eventually drove them to become almost racially and ethnically extinct.
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This new social system did not predominate in central Veracruz or in the rest of the nation but until the end of the XIX century, when the castas came close to the status of being the majority among the general population. In terms of how the Afro-Mexican was finally erased officially as a "racial" 41 and ethnic minority3 8 from memory after the Revolution, Juan Carlos Ramerez Pimienta's comments, unknowingly, offer an interesting insight: [Education is going to become one of the main factors for cohesion in post-revolutionary Mexico.
In fact almost immediately at the end of the armed phase of the Revolution Alvaro Obregon appoints Jose Vasconcelos as the Minister of Education. He starts immediately an ambitious literacy campaign. The object—says Heuer—is to bring spiritually closer all groups in the country, that is to say, homogenize Mexicans by giving them a federalized education, in other words, the same history, with the same heroes, same past and the same country to sacrifice for.
This doctrine, while supposedly aimed at bringing everybody to an illusory mainstream, in truth was targeted at doing the opposite. His ideology was put into practice through an all-out government campaign to create one country through education, art, and mass media: "Vasconcelos was the first to capture and realize, while being minister [of education] the functional concept that modern aesthetics has found in the phenomenon of mural painting and on the diffusion of music for the humble Mexican masses" Bar This campaign blurred all Mexicans who were not It is important to keep in mind that from the onset of the colonial period Afro or visibly black Mexicans had a concealed or disguised social life due to the fact that for the most part they were offspring of illegitimate sexual relations.
For instance, all of the mestizos who did not look white enough were not represented in cinematography during the first half of the 20 t h century. In this manner they were made invisible and cast out of the ideal mestizo image through one of the most popular means of mass persuasion. Moreover, the most famous images of the Mexican Indian in cinema were cast by actors like Pedro Armendariz and Ignacio Lopez Tarso, that is Euro-mestizos. Ramerez asks: "is it possible to think that the PRI-government 4 0 did not design and implement a cultural policy to help it stay in power?
This party was in power continuously since the end of the armed phase ofthe Revolution of until the year when Vicente Fox Quesada from the rightist catholic Partido de Action National National Action Party won the elections. The Afro-Mexicans, once out of sight, were soon forgotten. Maria Teresa Sepulveda's ethnohistorical work is an example of the far-reaching effects of Vasconcelos policy of the 20s. She professes: [t]he black ripped naked from his region of origin, was unable to construct in New Spain the culture he belonged to; being a minority he was soon forced to mix biologically and culturally with the indigenous and mestizos adopting behavioral patterns from these groups.
Sepulveda Sepulveda acknowledges that in cases where blacks were really isolated they were able to keep some of their African cultural features, but she erases them physically from the population and finds that Mexico inherited from black Africa only some magical beliefs She disseminates another two-pronged Jackson has pointed out that during this period is "the advent of 'Black is Beautiful. New York: Seven Stries, 1 s t ed, On one hand, it should be asked how the fierce warriors encountered by the Spaniards became "frail"? Was it not the inhuman treatment received and the imported diseases that nearly extinguished the Amerindian population?
Galeano 58, 59; McCaa On the other hand, as far as the black man's strength is concerned, Aguirre Beltran explains: When it was a matter of justifying blacks' enslavement and their introduction to American lands, it was said that a black man was worth four Indians, meaning that the work effort of a black man was equivalent to that of four Indians. Later on it was even said that a black man could resist rougher work than the white man. In this manner the myth of the black man's physical superiority over the Indian and the white man was established as a means of subjecting the black man to the most barbarous exploitation.
These black men were in the prime of physical strength due to both age and to the fact that the trader would normally pick the biggest and strongest among all to receive a better price. Thus, Sepulveda's teachings, under new light, can now be seen to be influenced by Jose Vasconcelos' racist ideology on mestizaje. But what happened to the Afro-Mexican after Vasconcelos' ideology became a "reality"? In Aguirre Beltran declared that in Mexico, "especially after the Revolution there [was] no racist consciousness.
The key to understanding what happened to blacks in Mexico after the Revolution can be found in two of Aguirre Beltran's words: "law" and "official. Regarding this dominant ideology in Mexico, Jose Revueltas explains: The rareness, the strangeness of the dominant ideology, already institutionalized as a whole in the Constitution of , of laws and of juridical policies of the State, rests particularly on the fact that the great indigenous masses are kept cut off from it, they don't belong to it, they are 'foreign' to that national consciousness, yet to become a total historical auto-consciousness.
Also, it may be correct to say that the majority of the population in Mexico are mestizos, but only in the sense of describing humans whose genetic make-up is black African, Amerindian and Spanish, among others. It is also true that among the population today there is still a preference for the Euro-mestizo. Another example can be found in the Mexican immigration laws where the history of white racism is well documented. For instance, a certain Francisco Pimentel is recorded as saying in that Mexico needed foreign colonization to "augment and improve" the country's population Gonzalez Navarro v.
I, Also, in the same source, public opposition to black immigrants is documented in the newspaper, El Monitor Republicano, where blacks are characterized as "lazier, dissolute, and less intelligent than the Indian;" while white people are said to be "the most active, the most intelligent, in one word the most civilized" Gonzalez Navarro v.
II, Between and the immigration to Mexico of foreign workers was restricted and "justified with openly racist arguments" as it was officially declared in that "it was mandatory to improve the race through mestizaje and this could not be achieved by yoking Mexicans with individuals from insignificant lineage. But perhaps the most illustrative example can be found in the images of the "Mexican prototype" found in movies, television, newspapers and magazines. One of the dramatic concrete consequences of this political model has been the destruction of a great number of native societies: [ In a country where less than 5 percent of the population is of pure Caucasian blood, the message is that things go better for white fair-haired 'foreigners'" Riding Also, on September 15, Reforma, a Mexican daily, published an add from "Herdez," a food Company, that says, "On September live the happiness of tradition and paint with our colors your heart.
This is to take place with the new tools provided by multidisciplinary perspectives inclusive of the black experience and the vision of the vanquished. All facts, including what has been kept silent or conveniently forgotten, must be exposed for a fully informed debate based on all evidence, no matter how shocking or disturbing. Under existing legal and academic views it should be clear that "what was considered a civilizing act, based on a universalistic humanism, now is practically definable as a major offense: ethnocide" Bartolome The homogenizing activities started by Vasconcelos in the 20s, carried on by many others in Mexico until today, need to be investigated further to understand their consequences, that is, the manner in which they have affected and are affecting humanity directly and or indirectly.
The existence of an Afro-Mexican population and an Afro-Mexican ethnic heritage is little known in Mexico and in the world at large. The Afro-Mexican contributions to Mexican society as a whole and to humanity as a whole by extension are yet to be recognized.
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The black phobia and white aesthetics found in part of Mexican literature and the arts embraced officially and even academically, are part of a pattern in the Americas wherever there have been or there are black men and black women. Perhaps this is why what is discussed here may not appear new and may even seem to be a "worn out issue.
Mexico as a whole, by denying its roots, will sadly continue to be a case of mistaken identity. On the issue of diversity in Mexico, Victor Zuniga explains that following the Revolution of , new forms of rhetorical inclusion of "minorities" were designed in Mexico: "the existence of a Mexican mosaic" was admitted, "but this didn't change substantially the nineteenth-century project for social balancing supported until today by the myth of mestizaje" Mexico's project for entering modernity, as far as it relates to its social and ethnic diversity, was nearsighted It was developed upon 19 t h century beliefs: "it did not take into consideration the presence of the 'others' Moreover, and as Zuniga continues: one of the most surprising characteristics of the historical and political discourse about the nation in Mexico is its marked resistance to considering openly the question of cultural, linguistic and ethnic differences.
Until a very few years ago we lacked all types of juridical or political discourse, no matter how weak, about the question of differences. Rowe and Schelling highlight as well that in do Nascimento's view "concepts such as miscegenation, acculturation and assimilation are in fact euphemisms for the sexual exploitation of [Afro-Brazilian] women and the gradual annihilation of [Afro-Brazilian] culture" Rowe In Cuba, the debate on Afro-Cuban expression, and curiously enough "the dialogue" with the United States on the subject, exists.
Cuba, as in the case of the United States, has fostered the academic literary study of its African component, and although it may be argued that there is still much to accomplish, what cannot be denied is that the Afro-Cuban presence and literary contribution to Cuba's, and by extension to Latin America's, identity is a fact today. Moreover, African blacks of the Diaspora to the Americas, in general, had very similar experiences in the European colonies on this continent.
Westport: Greenwood Press, New York: Da Capo, 1sted. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, I 51 instances they were enslaved, relegated to forced labor, and in all colonial societies there is extensive documentation about their use and sexual abuse.