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LibreOrganize 0.6.0 - Documentation

LA’s Mexican Communities: Division and Unity

from the Oct. 26, 2022 Bulletin

US elections indigenous peoples black/brown unity race & racism

I’m indigenous myself, and she called us “little short dark people. Very ugly.” In México, indigenous people are victims of racism, and then we come to the US and we face the same problem

Nury showed us that it’s not just white people who look down on us. Nury’s family is Mexican, and she insulted us in Spanish! Her words show she identifies more with white Americans than people from her own country.

 

LA has more Oaxacans than any other city in the US. Many of them decided to call a demonstration, but you had doubts. Why?

 

I got a call from a leader of one of the Oaxacan organizations in LA when the news came out, saying we should march. I said I didn’t think Oaxacans will show up. 

I’ve organized many fiestas and cultural events with Oaxacans, but we’ve never had a demonstration. Why? Most of us are immigrants, with many undocumented who have to be careful. Our undocumented drive to work because they have to, but they think twice before they take a risk driving to a park or to go anywhere just for fun.

 

Adult Oaxacans spend their time trying to make a little money to support their families, both here and back home. They clean houses, work in hotels, do the hardest jobs. They focus on daily life: the high cost of rent, poor services in the barrios, safety for their kids. They don’t go to marches, even when a march calls for changes to the immigration laws. And they tell their kids, just work hard, go to school, keep quiet.

So I thought that any march against Nury would draw mostly Blacks, union members, the people used to demonstrating. But I got a surprise. Some 95 percent of the demonstrators turned out to be Oaxacan! And they came from San Diego, Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Barbara, not just LA. People were so mad!

 

Some politicians wanted to speak, but we said no, this isn’t about campaigning. Only the communities will speak. And in our culture we have many organizations working together. We agreed that people from the Black, Korean, and Oaxacan communities would be our speakers.

Photo: Valentin Ramirez speaking at the demonstration, LA Times

Some say that LA City Council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León should not resign, because that would weaken Latino representation.

 

LA had four Latino city councilors out of 15, and, yes, if 3 resign that will leave one. But if they insult us, how do they represent us? Some say that they have done some good things, like raising the minimum wage and getting financial help for workers during COVID. But we say, “OK, thank you for what you did, but you must resign — and then prove yourselves again if you want our support.”

 

Latinos make up 48 percent of LA, with 9 percent Black and 12 percent Asian. The only winners from this mess? The whites who control LA, even though they make up only 30 percent of the city.

 

Is this incident causing a split among Angelenos of Mexican descent?

 

We have Mexicanos with lighter skin who identify with whites. People like Nury got a degree, they live in a nice house, they have a nice car, they don’t relate to the workers that live in the barrios in Koreatown, those who make up the majority of Mexicans in LA. Why don’t we have nice playgrounds, clean bathrooms, safe streets like the white neighborhoods where they live? So, yes, this incident didn’t cause a split, it showed the divide between those who’ve made it and those trying to make it

Blacks and Koreans also turned out for the march. Do you see new possibilities for allying with them?

 

We already work together at our jobs in the hotels. We live near each other, We share the same hardships, so it’s not hard to work together politically. 

 

We don’t want a city run by wealthy white people or those who try to divide Black against Latino

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

We need leaders who don’t just want our vote to get a position for their own advancement. We need the community to advance in return for our support. With this racist incident, we now have something to unite and mobilize around. Together we’ll get people on the City Council who’ll work for us.

 

As an organizer, I always invite everybody. It doesn’t matter where you were born, it doesn’t matter the color of your skin. We’re fighting for our dignity and respect, our right to what others in our cities have.

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