Third World Newsreel (TWN)
Third World Newsreel (TWN)

It may not widely-known, but more than a million Mexicans are of African descent – a heritage that is often forgotten, denied, and many times stigmatized, both in Mexico and in Chicanx communities around the United States.

A new documentary, titled “Invisible Roots: Afro-Mexicans in Southern California,” wants to help change that by providing an intimate look at Afro-Mexicans living in Southern California as they discuss complex issues of racial, national and cultural identities.

At the center of the film, which is directed by Tiffany Walton and Lizz Mullis, are: the Herrera family in Pasadena, who proudly perform the famous “La Danza de los Diablos,” or “The Dance of the Devils.” One of the performers explains the origins of the dance: “We have been told by our ancestors that the dance came from Africa, but when they were enslaved and brought over here, the dance became a way to make fun of the overseer.” Meanwhile, the Cisneros family makes sure to keep alive the spiritual traditions and culinary secrets that they brought from Costa Chica, Mexico. Lastly, college student Yismar is embracing his newfound identity, and explains that “being proud of being Black has boosted my self-esteem, but before when I didn’t know that, I was just Mexican. That didn’t boost my self-esteem because people would always make fun of me.”

Featuring interviews with historians Alva Moore Stevenson and Daniel Cendejaz Mendez, and music by Kemo the Blaxican, Third World Newsreel has announced the release of “Invisible Roots: Afro-Mexicans in Southern California,” making it available for festival and educational screenings. In addition to stops at the University of Southern California, Pierce College and Santa Monica City College, most recently, the documentary screened at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Visit or email for information about screening the film, and/or speaking engagements with the filmmakers.

Check out the trailer below: