Today is Mexico’s Independence Day from Spain and yesterday marked the first day of the Latin@ Heritage Month in the U.S. However, last month I had the privilege to visit Mexico City and I found out about a line of events that took place in the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University of Mexico), better known as UNAM. These events included workshops and performances dedicated to celebrating Black hxstory: Agosto Negro.
A group of students organized Agosto Negro to shine light on Black identity, one that has been marginalized in Mexico. These students talked about Blackness as worldwide but emphasized the importance of acknowledging it in a country where the reigning identity is the mestiza or mestizo (person of mixed Spanish and Indigenous ancestry). The mestiz@ identity has politically erased the Afrikan element from Mexico, even as the Afrikan element strongly remains in the people and their traditions.
I attended Agosto Negro at UNAM for a full day. I was able to presence a viewing of a documentary about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States followed by a panel of student speakers who shared their knowledge on various Black leaders around the world, political prisoners, and the significance of hip hop. The day culminated with a performance by two local rappers that go by Fuera de Servicio. This was my favorite part of the day because their flows poetically summarized the knowledge that was shared through out the day’s workshops.
It is important to critically think about what it really means to celebrate being independent and being Mexican today. It is important to critically think about what it means to celebrate a month of Latin@ heritage in the U.S. And it is important to critically think about what identities are being celebrated over others. At the end of the day, the point is not to be divisive based on differences, but to create solidarity between our similarities.
Watch these clips to see Fuera de Servicio’s flows!