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Afro-Mexicans Are Moving To The U.S. In Search Of A Fresh Start

By Victoria M. Walker

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Some descendants of African slaves in Nacimiento, Mexico are considering making the journey to the United States in search of work and opportunities, the Washington Post reports.

“There’s one thing we all know now,” Juana Vazquez, 50, said in Spanish. “If you want work, you cross the border.” Vazquez herself, who received a temporary work visa, was heading to West Texas for a job as a house cleaner.

RELATED: How Afro-Mexicans Celebrate The Day Of The Dead

The Mascogo tribe, known as the Black Seminoles, are the descendants of escaped African slaves who fled the United States and settled in northern Mexico. The name of their village translates to “Birth of the Blacks.” They fled first to Florida, then owned by the Spaniards, but were forced out when President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act.

Now some are making the trip north, but for them, it was not as difficult of a decision as you might think. For some, the choice is purely financial.

“I’m not going to blame a child for the sins of his father,” Servando Cervantes told the Post, referring to the institution that enslaved his ancestors.

RELATED: What It Means To Be Black In Colombia

While roughly half of the village has left for the United States, residents told the Post the path to citizenship for the Mascogo isn’t easy. The Kickapoo, a neighboring tribe, has been granted dual citizenship in Mexico and the U.S. The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs does not recognize the Mascogo tribe. And in Mexico, their dark features make them stand out outside of the community. A woman told the Post that she has to remind people that Black people live in northern Mexico.

Even though many are leaving Mexico, their culture remains. An elder in the community sings hymns and gospel songs her ancestors once sang in English. A community museum in the town pays homage to the Mascogo’s rich history.

“I understand why they want to migrate,” Corina Harrington, a U.S. citizen born in Nacimiento, told the Post. “I love this place, but the fact is, there’s not much here. This is not an easy place to make a living anymore.”

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Victoria M. Walker

Victoria M. Walker is an award-winning multimedia journalist and full-time lecturer in the Department of Media, Journalism, and Film at her alma mater, Howard University. She was previously the breaking news and viral content video editor at The Washington Post.

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