'I Am a Descendent From People Who Have Interrupted Empire': Afro-Indigenous Poet Alán Pelaez Lopez Explores the Beauty of Radical Blackness in La Negritud

Growing up, Alán Pelaez Lopez always knew that they were indigenous—but, the Oaxaca, Mexico-native didn’t realize that they were Black until kindergarten.

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“I remember the [kindergarten] teacher, she was going through like a list of animals. It was a children’s book. And I remember her going to a monkey and then pointing at me and saying that the monkey looked like me,” the poet said. “I was like, oh, I’m not just indigenous. I’m a Black Indian.”

At 5 or 6 years old, this was Pelaez Lopez’s first experience of racialized violence. They were in Mexico City, a place far whiter than their pueblo in Oaxaca. But the traumatizing memory remains today.

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Today the Afro-Indigenous poet and cultural worker understands their Blackness to be a form of resistance. Indeed, Pelaez Lopez helped popularize the #LatinidadIsCancelled movement that became popular in 2019.

During this Latinx Heritage Month, The Root celebrates the beauty of Blackness through a three-part video series, La Negritud. Our first episode features poet and activist Alán Pelaez Lopez, a Black Zapotec from Mexico.

See the entire video above.

Afro-Cuban woman that was born and branded in New York. When León isn't actually creating cool videos, she's thinking of cool videos that she can create.

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DISCUSSION

Arrgh, how Mexico refuses to acknowledge its rich African heritage...took me years to finally hear about Gaspar Yanga and know that Mexican citizens have actually been deported (to Honduras for example) because a police officer insisted “there are no Black people in Mexico.” smh

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