May 28, 2012

Indigenous Mexicans face prejudice

Epithet that divides Mexicans is banned by Oxnard school district

'Oaxaquita' (little Oaxacan) is used by other Mexicans to demean their indigenous compatriots—who are estimated to make up 30% of California's farmworkers.

By Paloma Esquivel
Indigenous Mexicans have come to the U.S. in increasing numbers in the last two decades. Some estimates now put them at 30% of California's farmworkers. In Ventura County, there are about 20,000 indigenous Mexicans, most of whom are Mixtec from the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero who work in the strawberry industry, according to local organizers.

Many speak little or no Spanish and are frequently subjected to derision and ridicule from other Mexicans. The treatment follows a legacy of discrimination toward indigenous people in Mexico, said William Perez, a professor of education at Claremont Graduate University who has interviewed and surveyed numerous indigenous Mexican students.

"One of the main themes is the discrimination, bullying, teasing and verbal abuse that they receive from other Mexican immigrant classmates who are not indigenous," he said. The abuse, which often goes unnoticed or is minimized by teachers and administrators, has left some of the indigenous students too embarrassed to speak their native languages, he said.

Educators and others in the U.S. often don't recognize diversity within the Mexican community, said Gaspar Rivera-Salgado, a researcher at the UCLA Labor Center who has written extensively about indigenous Mexican migration.

"We forget that it's a multilingual, multiethnic community," he said. "We forget about the fact that 62 indigenous languages are spoken in Mexico."

The organizing project's campaign, Rivera-Salgado said, "is a really interesting way to confront, very directly, something that the Mexican nation and the Mexican immigrant community sometimes sweeps under the rug, and that's the prevalence of racism and discrimination that indigenous people have to endure in Mexico and that is reproduced here in the United States."
Comment:  I wonder how much difference there is in the "blood" of indigenous and non-indigenous Mexicans. Is there any difference?

Ironic to see Mexicans discriminate against each other. To many Americans, they're all one big brown horde.

For more on the subject, see More Latinos Identify as Native and "Most Mexicans Are Indians."

Below:  "Abelardo Popec, left, and Romaldo Lopez listen to speakers as indigenous Mexican students and leaders of Ventura County public schools launched the "No Me Llames Oaxaquita" (Don't call me little Oaxacan) campaign at the Center for Employment Training in Oxnard." (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's also "indio feo" (ugly Indian) and a few others. Yeah, Indians have it tough in Oaxaca. It's not even just words, of course. Words do nothing by themselves. It's actions.