Re: Any theorizing on 'vanishing' races via miscegenaton?

karl h schwerin (schwerin@UNM.EDU)
Wed, 24 Jan 1996 13:52:15 -0700

On Mon, 15 Jan 1996, Bobby Vaughn wrote:

> I'm just tossing this out to see if anyone has any ideas. I'm interested
> the different ways an ethnic community might deal with it's eventual
> non-existence, at least with respect to race. Specifically, I'm talking
> about black communities in southern Mexico, where by all accounts, a
> generation ago, there were virtually no non-blacks in the immediate
> region. What appears to be happening is an increasing immigration of
> mestizo 'outsiders' to the area, and a subsequent increase in race
> mixing. Add to this the flows of black mexicans to urban areas, as well
> as the United States in search of economic opportunities, and we see the
> complexion of the region changing rather starkly. (I wasn't there in the
> past--this is just what people have told me.)
> The questions I have are:
> 1) It appears as though the majority of the blacks in the area, despite
> the demographic trend, are not alarmed or concerned, and in fact, those
> who express any opinion one way or the other tend to be pleased
> (improving the race, etc.). Is this what one might expect? Does this
> happen in other places?
> 2) What would be some factors that might explain the different reactions
> (positive, negative, indifferent) to a decline in the black population?
> 3) Do you have any ideas where I might look for some theorizing on the
> subject, or any ethnographic accounts that are similar to what we're
> dealing with here?
> Any help would be greatly appreciated.
> -Bobby
> ------------------------------
> Bobby Vaughn
> Student, Ph.D. Program in Anthropology
> Stanford University
There is a widespread value in Iberian cultures on 'white' or light skin
(presumably dating from the European Conquest). When I did fieldwork in
Tlaxcala, Mexico some people were upset with the photos I took of them -
"I look so black!" Some inquired discreetly whether I could make them
look lighter in the photo.

When I did fieldwork in southern Ecuador, there were several instances of
'common' folk (muleskinners, smallholders, petty merchants) who, when
they achieved some economic success, would marry lighter-skinned women,
thus _lightening_ the line. You could actually see the lightening
process going on when you compared generations from elder to younger.

Thus, I suspect that your black Mexican populations are motivated by
considerations of improved status and perhaps enhanced ease of 'passing'
into the general population.

Karl Schwerin SnailMail: Dept. of Anthropology
Univ. of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131

There are people who will help you get your basket
on your head because they want to see what is in it.
-- African proverb