By Herman L. Bennett
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Additional info for Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570-1640
Where do meet as constantly as the merchants 18 Africans in Colonial Mexico upon our exchange about two thousand coaches, full of gallants, ladies, and citizens, to see and to be seen, to court and to be courted. The gentlemen have their train of blackamoor slaves, some a dozen, some half a dozen, waiting on them, in brave and gallant liveries, heavy wit gold and silver lace, with silk stockings on their black legs and roses on their feet, and swords by their sides. The ladies also carry their train by their coach’s side of such jetlike damsels .
Yet even in these areas, Africans and especially their descendants gradually blended into the local population. The pace of this process varied according to locality. In describing this process as mestizaje, most scholars have characterized it as the “whitening” of the African population, the assumption being that Africans Soiled Gods and the Formation of a Slave Society 27 and their descendants largely interacted with Spaniards. Such views, though re®ective of an imperial policy that repeatedly encouraged Spaniards to restrict the black and mulatto presence from indigenous towns and peoples, were far from ever being realized.
Also, one cannot ignore the static views that governed Spanish perceptions of who constituted an Indian. Despite the ®uidity between the categories of Indian and mestizo, Spaniards continued to imbue these terms with rigid, idyllic, anachronistic, and mutually exclusive meanings. Patterns of interaction were clearly not uniform throughout New Spain. Variations did occur, and in some regions of the central south and the northwest, where indigenous communities retained their corporate identities along with their corresponding social taboos, mestizaje with persons of African descent happened with less frequency.
Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570-1640 by Herman L. Bennett