Los Angeles – A capacity crowd gathered at the Museum of African Art on a recent Sunday, not too long ago to view a groundbreaking and breathtaking new exhibit. This exhibit opened at the Museum of African American Art, located at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, Macy’s 3rd Floor.
As a fellow photographer, I was in awe of this photographic exhibit, “Where Black is Brown, The African Diaspora in Mexico.” This is a timely exhibit, as the nation comes together to celebrate Juneteenth, and the greater discussion about African roots in the Global diaspora.
The awesome exhibition curated by Dr. Toni-Mokjaetji Humber, Professor Emeritus, Ethnic & Women’s Studies Department, California State Polytechnic University Pomona was well received by those in attendance. The crowd consisted of family, friends, educators, fellow colleagues and former students.
Where Black is Brown is an innovated, multidimensional exhibit that features photographs, artifacts, and installations that is sure to inspire dialogue about the African presence in Mexico. Dr. Humber will also offer educational programs and activities during the run of the exhibit. The exhibit is on display until September 18, 2016. This will be a wonderful activity to share with kids, teenagers, if you are a teacher. This will also serve as a great staycation activity for local families, as well as for national and international visitors coming to Greater Los Angeles.
“Recognition of an African root in Mexico heritage, both Ancient and Modern, has been rendered invisible in the ideological consciousness of what it means to be Mexican,” Dr. Humber states. This research will present a face to Mexico that has been hidden, denied and disparaged, yet one that is vital to Mexico history and culture.”
Recent news reports stated that Mexico will finally acknowledge its Afro-Mexican population. “In 2015, for the first time ever, Mexico allowed its citizens to identify as an “Afro-Mexican” or “Afro-descendent” on its census. The results, more than 1.4 million people—around 1.2% of the population—said that they had African ancestry. Today, the majority of Afro-Mexicans reside in the states of Costa Chica, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Veracruz—all places that were popular among escaped enslaved Africans.”
Where Black is Brown exhibition is designed to further the understanding of African influence and contributions in the Americas and to foster greater understanding among African Americans, Chicano/Latino, and Indigenous communities about their historical connections and their intermingled sangre (blood) that has produced beautiful and dynamic peoples of the Americas.
A two part documentary was also featured on Univision TV-the largest Spanish speaking television network. The documentary was entitled “Quienes son los Afro-Mexicans?” (Who are the Afro-Mexicans?) Co-produced by Arizona based husband and wife multimedia/photography team Hakeem Khaaliq and Queen Muhammad Ali.
The Opening Reception was simply awe inspiring. The program got underway with a spirited musical procession featuring Kabasa West African Drum and Dance Ensemble, directed by Jaijae Kabasa and featuring the dynamic vocalist Felicidad Gongora, followed by Danza Chicimeca, Dance Director Sistah Centzi. Sistah Centzi led the crowd in Blessing ceremony. Thelma Cameron performed the traditional African Libation.
Betty Johnson, VP Programs, Museum of African American Art welcomed the crowd to the Museum for this magnificent occasion, and introduced Dr. Toni Humber for remarks about the exhibit.
Ursaline Bryant, Creative Artist, Producer, Leimert Park Vision Theater performed a dramatic presentation-Calafia and the Calafian that was very informative and captivating.
The crowd was entertained by the popular Kabasa West African Drum and Dance Ensemble that also featured the sweet, Heavenly voice of Felicidad Gongora on three songs.
The program concluded with a reception and a Q&A with Dr. Toni Humber. The exhibit is in memory and honor of Dr.Ivan Van Sertima, Mother Tynnetta Muhammad, Sista Nzinga and the 26 of the 44 founders of Los Angeles, called Pobladores, who were of African descent.
The Museum of African American Art is located at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, Macy’s 3rd Floor. The hours: Thursday-Sunday, 1200PM-5:00PM.
Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected]