'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

Felice León
·1 min read

“Being a Black person means that you’re always having to build worlds. The world that one inhabits as a Black person, primarily in a colonized country—it’s a world that necessitates our elimination.” — Alán Pelaez Lopez

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.

“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.

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.

Black and Indigenous Millennials Are Canceling Latinidad. Here’s Why

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.

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