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Opinion

The Privilege of Being From Oaxaca

“Tan feo,” she said.  

A simple Google translate will tell you it means “so ugly.” But it won’t give you the context and long history of racial slander these two words carry. Then followed a laugh, one so evil, full of self-supremacy, that it rang through the deepest parts of my life. I was once again a young girl from Oaxaca, feeling less than my fellow Mexicans. 

Then there was an immense amount of anger. A wave of anger towards those three politicians I helped get into that power—an outrage for the lies they represent. 

I am very aware of the privilege I hold. My skin is lighter than my brother and sisters. I am also 5’8, which trips people out when I tell them I am from Oaxaca. If I had a penny for every time, I heard, “you are so tall for a Oaxacan.” I once replied to a famous chef, “Oh gee, you are pretty short for a white guy.”  

This weekend, this privilege didn’t shield me from the feelings it brought back up. Because at the end of the day, no matter what I look like—I am a Oaxaqueña. The same Indigenous blood runs through my veins. My entire family has been diminished, insulted, and stabbed in the back. If I feel this amount of pain, what about the young Oaxaqueñas and Oaxaqueños who don’t hold the privilege I do? What of the millions of us who have given so much to this city?  

I fear what will happen to L.A.’s Black and Brown communities, and I am afraid it will tear down the beautiful relationships we’ve been building for decades. I’ve always been open to discussing the level of racism and colorism looming in Mexico. Many times people couldn’t believe how real and alive this is, and I think now they do.

In my naivety, I believed things to be different, especially after 2020. But they never liked us. They saw us as inferior. I remembered that I had a voice. It doesn’t matter if things are different. I can choose to stand in my power and show my Oaxacan-nnes in glory.

Our community has always been left behind. They drink our mezcal. They eat our corn and love to use us as a photo prop when convenient, yet deep down, they still think less of us.

Our culture's power is more significant than any words of hate coming our way. 

Our community has always been left behind. They drink our mezcal. They eat our corn and love to use us as a photo prop when convenient, yet deep down, they still think less of us. The news cycles have been speaking on the Brown-on-Black hate that exists in our community with merit. The words that said about an innocent child. The histories of marginalized Indigenous communities have been forgotten and once again left behind. Our pain has been silenced and diminished. 

Everyone who was part of that recording needs to resign absolutely. 

I am personally asking for this because the aftershocks of their words will have more profound consequences on the constant marginalization of my Indigenous brothers and sisters. The words spoken in that room will linger in the streets of this city and will take years to heal. I wish for my children, nieces, nephews, and kids of every Oaxaqueño in L.A. never to feel the pain I felt that Sunday morning.  

Culture is the one thing they can’t buy, replicate, or talk down upon, and it's what makes us unique and beautiful. 

I want us all to look at ourselves in the mirror and see nothing but beauty. To learn about our ancestors' history and channel the power they once held. Culture is the one thing they can’t buy, replicate, or talk down upon, and it's what makes us unique and beautiful. 

Let’s find our love and stand in our power together.

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