Mexico’s first studio-driven fiction film with an all Black cast is criticized for anti-Black representation
One might think it’s a step in the right direction that La Negrada, Mexico’s first studio-driven fiction film to star an all Black Afro-Latino cast, just won the cinematography award at the 2018 Guadalajara International Film Festival. However, many are now criticizing the film for relying on anti-Black stereotypes to relay the story.
La Negrada, which is directed by Jorge Pérez Solano, tells the story of two women, Magdalena and Juana, who both have romantic relationships with one man. The film was shot at Costa Chica, home to many Afro-Mexicans.
Throughout the trailer, there are nods made towards the African ancestry of the film’s protagonists.
An immigration officer questions on of the woman protagonists, “You are not Mexican right? Where are you from, negra?”
The trailer cuts to a card which reads, “There are Mexicans that nobody sees.”
While many commended the film’s intentional inclusion of Black Afro-Latinxs, a group of Afro-Latinx organizations including Mexico Negro, Huella Negra, and Afrodescendencias, have criticized the director for utilizing anti-Black tropes, such as when he used “savage” to describe Afro-Mexicans in a national interview. They also state the film relies heavily on anti-Black stereotypes to tell its story.
#LaNegrada El cineasta Jorge Pérez Solano, director y guionista del filme “La Negrada”, llama salvajes a las personas negras @LaJornada @CONAPRED @CinetecaMexico @revistaproceso pic.twitter.com/0VBa2txAi2
— Afrodescendencias (@afrodes_mx) August 12, 2018
While La Negrada is specifically a Mexican film and recognizes the Black, Afro-Mexican population, it pulls open the curtain on the lack of recognition of Afro-Latinx peoples and cultures in general. Both in the U.S. and South America, Latinx media representation consistently centers the images of white Latinxs and reinforces European beauty standards onto its population.
For example, Brazil has had a long history of encouraging European migration to the country and social miscegenation, the “mixing” of European colonists and immigrants with darker skinned people to whiten the population over time. Miscegenation is also popular in Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, and some Caribbean islands.
Still, the criticism highlights the possible dangers of uncritical desires for representation in an anti-Black media landscape.