Lat Crit, law and humanities, legal history, race, ethnicity, Mestizaje, Mexico, Mexican Americans
Many legal scholars who write about Mexican mestizaje omit references to Afromexicans, Mexico’s African roots, and contemporary anti-black sentiments in the Mexican and Mexican American communities. The reasons for the erasure or invisibility of Mexico’s African roots are complex. It argues that post-colonial officials and theorists in shaping Mexico’s national image were influenced two factors: the Spanish colonial legacy and the complex set of rules creating a race-like caste system with a distinct anti-black bias reinforced through art; and the negative images of Mexico and Mexicans articulated in the United States during the early nineteenth century. The post-colonial Mexican becomes mestiza/o, defined as European and Indian, with an emphasis on the European roots. Thus contemporary anti-black bias in Mexico is a vestige of Spanish colonialism and nationalism that must be acknowledged, but is often lost in the uncritical celebration of Latina/o mestizaje when advanced as a unifying principle that moves beyond the conventional binary (black-white) discussions of race. This uncritical and ahistorical invocation of mestizaje has serious implications for race relations in the United States given the growing presence and political power of Mexican Americans because substituting mestizaje for racial binarism when discussing race in the United States reinforces rather than diminishes notions of white racial superiority and dominance. Therefore legal scholars who write about Latina/o issues should replace their uncritical celebration of mestizaje with a focus on colonialism and capitalism, the twin isms that influenced ideological theories and racial formation from the late fifteenth through the twentieth century in the Americas.
Legal History, Theory and Process
15 Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 199 (2006).