Afro Salvadorians? Is that a thing?

El Salvador, like Costa Rica, gained their independence in 1821 from Guatemalan officials.

Guatemala had power, I can’t wait to dig into their history.

So as I tried to find the African influence in El Salvador, I was met with this number; 10,000. Apparently, in the 75 years between 1548 and 1623, El Salvador imported 10,000 enslaved Africans. (How come they kept such great records?)

What is also known is that El Salvador banned immigration from all blacks, Chinese, Arabs and Gypsies during the 1930s. and the whitening of the country was encouraged through allowing immigration from Europe.

Overwhelmingly, El Salvador has one way to characterize the population, “mestizos.” And some argue that there isn’t an African presence because assimilation into the larger society as mestizo is what is most important.

Mestizo is considered in El Salvador to be, 50% European and 50% Amerindian.

Ok, so how do we get to that? Let’s dig into the social class structure;

During colonial times, on the bottom of the rung were enslaved Africans and Indians. Above them, as we know, were Mulattos, an African and European mix. I love the wording of the creation of mulatto, the “mixing” of the races. No one talks about the forcible “mixing”, but ok.

Next was Zambo, which is the mix of African and Amerindian. Mulatto and Zambo then created Quadroon (75% European and 25% African) and Cambujo (75% European and 25% Amerinidian). Which is how we get to Mestizo.

I wonder where the 25% African went. I guess they just died out.

But if you check out Hugeaux Photography: The African Indian Heritage Memorial in El Salvador – Central America 2013 on Youtube you will see there are still some remnants of African influence in El Salvador.

African Indian Monument 4.JPG

This African-Indian Monument Heritage in Zacatecoluca, El Salvador is a monumental homage to “The Slave.” It tells the story of the Africans and Indians slaves who built the nation of El Salvador.

When I think about El Salvador and the African influence, though small, I wonder about identities we choose to embrace versus those we don’t. And when we choose to embrace a white identity that raped, pillaged and destroyed the lives of the indigenous of our land; not to mention the enslaved blacks who had a long history of rebellion. You have to wonder about cognitive dissonance.

But maybe, you’re just not ready to go this deep with your students. So, let’s start off small. Let’s teach our students about the geography of El Salvador and Central America.

Where is El Salvador? What countries make up Central America? What are the strategic benefits of the geography? What are the flags of Central America? Why were the colors and shapes chosen for the flag? What’s special about the capital? How are the characteristics of the Pacific Ocean different from the Caribbean Sea?

Hopefully, as you pose these questions and encourage more dialogue among your students, they will begin to formulate questions of their own.  As our 2nd CREAD Commandment states: Make your class a space and place of  continuous curiosity.


We can all start somewhere. We still have 25 more days to celebrate. Well, 15 school days and goodness gracious, we haven’t even gotten to Columbus Day, which from now on we will be calling Indigenous Peoples Day.

Have you thought that far yet? Don’t worry. We got you next week.

As always,

Deep Thinkers Only!

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