Op-Ed: Nury Martinez says out loud the racism and colorism my vibrant Oaxacan community endures, and it’s not acceptable.
“I have lived, with and within, for more than 30 years now, my culture. Its history, traditions, culture and traditions are a part of me, and while I am still part of it, it is my responsibility to be a more educated and informed Oaxaqueño, to educate my family and others so they do not repeat or perpetuate harmful behavior. It is my responsibility, my duty as a human being to share the truth of my culture.”
– Nury Martinez, Oaxaca’s first Latina mayor
When I met Nury Martinez, a small, soft-spoken, and very sweet little girl with a deep voice, she asked me, “You are not a tourist. Do you know where I am going?” When I told her, she continued, “What year? What is happening? I need to get some of my stuff. But why? I am not a tourist. I am not going away. I need to know all I can. I know my history. I know my religion. I know my culture.”
I watched Nury grow up—she was our Oaxaqueña ambassador to her community, a leader in many civic organizations, and always a force to be reckoned with. We watched as she helped organize protests and rallies around the state, as she organized many youth groups that engaged our community in issues of justice and social injustice, and as she worked to secure funding and facilities for our local museum—the only museum in the city that is open to the public without daily curatorial or operating expenses.
Nury grew up during and after the 2011 uprising—the historic, devastating, and ultimately victorious mass uprising that happened when people in our community demanded an end to the violence and repression against our community. The movement that ultimately came to fruition—Oaxaca’s rebellion—led to the birth of a new Oaxaca-style, progressive vision for the country we live in, a vision that puts the needs of people before the needs of corporations and multinationals.