Today the LA Times had an article about the Costa Chican community. Costa Chicans are black Mexicans from the coast south of Acapulco, extending over the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca. They are descendants of Spanish conquistadors and African slaves, and I wouldn’t doubt that they are mixed with indigenous Mexicans as well. Of course, there are also some theories floating around about an Olmec-African connection, but The Times didn’t delve into that research.
The article goes on to describe how Costa Chicans have settled in Pasadena, various other cities in Southern California, Winston Salem, NC, Joliet, IL, and even Salt Lake City of all places.
Afro-Mexicans currently have little interaction with African Americans because of language and cultural differences. Connections to other Latinos are often limited by regional and racial preferences. The relative isolation of the Costa Chican community in relation to African Americans and other Latinos in America saddens me because there is a real opportunity to build relationships here. Many Costa Chicans eat barbacoa, listen to Cumbias, and have strong familial ties. These activities certainly don’t sound foreign to this US born Latina.
So when I continually hear about the black-brown divide and political pollsters like Sergio Bendixen say, “the Hispanic voter — and I want to say this very carefully — has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates,” I wonder in which category he would put the Costa Chicans.
The LA Times article also fuels this notion that Afro-Latinos are an oddity by giving this article the following title, “An unusual blend of cultures: Mexican and black.” There has been mixing of races and ethnic groups throughout history. What is so unusual about the blending of Mexican and black cultures? Costa Chicans most certainly are every bit as Mexican as Mestizos from Chihuahua or as Mexican as the light skinned Peninsulares holding political office in Mexico City. This same LA Times covers baseball players of Afro-Latino heritage, but I don’t know if they are still referring to these talented athletes as being an “unusual blend” like they are some exotic coffee beans.