While Africans and their descendants are woven into the fabric of Mexico's history, social systems and cultural institutions negate the viability of a dynamic and political black population. Although Afro-Mexicans have socially “disappeared” into the political construction of mestizaje, dances based on archetypal images of blackness such as the negritos or the danza del diablo proliferate at theater and dance festivals in the country.
Performance is a place where black identity articulates itself within a global “call- and-response” of images. Devil dances of the Pacific Costa Chica exemplify the exotic and violent archetype of the Afro-Mexican. In contrast, indigenous Native American village dancers act out inversions of blackness in masked ceremonial rituals called negritos.
These examples of Native American and Afro-Mexican performances highlight the multiple dialogues that surround the African presence in Mexico. Dance, with its gestured codes and musical accompaniments, persists as evidence of a distinctive diasporic presence in a country in which African people run the risk of invisibility.