By Thomas F. DeFrantz, Anita Gonzalez
Contributors. Melissa Blanco Borelli, Daphne A. Brooks, Soyica Diggs Colbert, Thomas F. DeFrantz, Nadine George-Graves, Anita Gonzalez, Rickerby Hinds, Jason King, D. Soyini Madison, Koritha Mitchell, Tavia Nyong'o, Carl Paris, Anna B. Scott, Wendy S. Walters, Hershini Bhana Young
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Extra info for Black Performance Theory
In one annual festival in the village of Huamelula, masked performers play the roles of Turks, blacks, and an alligator in order to reexamine the social order of the community. The Huamelula ritual is a performance that allows the community to reinvestigate its relationship with external and internal histories. Black masking—the adoption of a black mask to represent the lowest echelon—is utilized in a more nuanced way than in the spectacles of minstrelsy. The Huamelula Ritual The theatrical reenactment begins with the arrival of wealthy foreign visitors known as the Turks, who enter the town square in a rolling float decorated to look like a boat.
As Hartman reminds us, “Africans did not sell their brothers and sisters into slavery. They sold strangers: those outside the web of kin and clan relationships, nonmembers of the polity, foreigners and barbarians at the outskirts of their country, and lawbreakers expelled from society” (5, my emphasis). I highlight her use of the term “web” as key to understanding my position on racial performativity. Though the tyranny of the European and American slave traders overshadows the role of Africans selling other Africans, this part of the history is narratively vexing and is therefore often omitted.
Mixtecs work hard, but blacks are lazy. Mixtecs are very religious, but blacks are not religious. There are black / Mixtec marriages, but they are looked at disdainfully (277). In effect, the Mixtecs describe the Afro-Mexicans as “not-us,” a social designation that impacts the self-esteem of Afro-Mexicans who reside in the area. In contrast, the Nahua people who live in the mountains just inland of the coastal areas have created a festival dance called Los Costeños in which Afro-Mexican Negritos dance as fisherman.