Leaders in the Oaxacan community of Los Angeles backed the call for the resignation of City Councilmember Nury Martinez and two colleagues involved in the year-old recorded conversation in which she made racist remarks about Indigenous residents with roots in the southern Mexican state.
On the steps of City Hall on Monday — coincidentally on Indigenous People’s Day — Indigenous and Black leaders condemned the racist comments Martinez made during a recorded meeting with Councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera.
In the conversation last October, the councilmembers were discussing redistricting maps when they disparaged Black and Indigenous people in starkly racist terms.
All four have apologized for their comments. After Martinez resigned from her position as president of the City Council on Monday, many Oaxacans said it was not enough and continued to call for the resignation of Herrera and all three councilmembers from their seats, saying their comments were divisive and contributed to the prejudice Indigenous people face.
For Oaxacan leaders, the insults were painful but not surprising, reminiscent of the racism and colorism Indigenous people face in Latin America and the United States.
“It’s upsetting that they’re inciting hate against Black people, they’re inciting hate against Indigenous people and contributing to the violence” against these groups, said Odilia Romero, director and co-founder of Comunidades Indígenas en Liderazgo, or Indigenous Communities in Leadership. “It’s an everyday thing. I go through it every day as an Indigenous woman. My relatives go through it every single day, in different institutions in different places. But I do have to remind all of you and the politicians … that we make this city.”
Los Angeles is home to one of the largest Oaxacan communities outside of Mexico. One expert estimated that there are as many as 200,000 Zapotecs — the largest Indigenous group from Oaxaca — living in Los Angeles County. As early as the 1940s, Oaxacan immigrants came to the U.S. in search of better wages and jobs, working in agriculture through an established bracero program of seasonal migrant workers. Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s poorest states, but the people have deeply influenced U.S. culture and food and shaped Los Angeles over the years.
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Source: LA Times