This was a recent, and timely, post from Jody García on the Nómada website. Any errors in translation are mine.
The murder of the Mayan spiritual guide, Domingo Chuc, stirred a twitter dialogue on racism directed at indigenous peoples in Guatemala and stigmatisation on their religious practices, clothing and world-view. With the tag, #GuateRacista (‘#RacistGuatemala’), men and women shared their stories. Here is a compilation.
@Xicara_Cotom: A year and half I worked in La Democracia market, selling pork crackling with my sister-in-law and I felt the contempt from many people, including the family of my ex-boyfriend telling me he was looking for something better and not someone [working] in the market.
@Andreakomio: Before marrying, someone told my mum that she should think hard about marrying my dad. Surely for the children to have an ‘Indian name’ would be shameful for them. But no, I am here, Andrea Ixchíu Hernández, proud and honoured of my background in spite of this #RacistGuatemala.
@Davidck7: My mum and dad did not wish for me to suffer like they had. They decided to not teach me K’iché. They, also, did not want me to have to endure taunts and insults. Racism was even killing their way of communication.
@Daniel Us: As a child I used to say to my mum, unthinkingly, why not wear the non-indigenous clothing. She asked me why I said that to her and I avoided the question by doing or saying something else. I never answered ‘the why‘ of those questions until a few years ago. I told her that I was sometimes embarrassed that she wore the outfit. Such things! Now I wonder: How many things went through the head of that child (me) that made him feel bad about seeing his mum wearing her clothing? What went through his mind that made him think that kind of thing? Now, I realize that from a young age we are told to feel ashamed, to feel less of ourselves. Today, I am more than happy to see and know that my roots proliferate. To see that this shame is turned into wisdom and courage to fight and defend ancestral knowledge. Today, I realize the importance of raising the voice. It might interest you: ‘The country in which to be racist is normal and not a crime’ (El país en el que ser racista es normal y no un delito)
@XinicoSandra: One afternoon, being dressed up in pants, blouse or dress, on the way to college, a woman sat next to me and started talking to me. The conversation began with a question, about if I was studying or not, and I amicably answered yes, I was at university, and immediately the women said to me: “Good thing, señorita, that you are studying because now even the Indians are beating us, or have you not even seen them going to university to study? So, we should not be left behind, we should not let them outdo us, imagine if people like them are graduates, how can we not?” That afternoon was fundamental in my life, that day I finally understood why I was dressed up and why I constantly justified to myself the loss of my outfit, of my identity, I finally understood why we choose to camouflage ourselves among the crowd, because racism hurts and has hurt for generations.
@Esimaj: One night my work colleague introduced me to his friends. Each time he did, he identified me as Maya Tz’utujil, but that night they said to me, “But you don’t look Indigenous”. How is an Indigenous person to look? What stereotypes does this country have for us?
@gtzoc7: If they didn’t kill you, insult you, assault you and discriminate against you, sure I would dress and speak like my mum.
@marisabelc: At 30 years of age, I have not yet met my biological father, my grandparents did not want me to be called ‘Chun’, they didn’t want their granddaughter brought up by an Indian.
@_soydelviento: At 10 years of age, my mum had to enforce my right to use my K’iché clothing, at an education event where I was pushed to wear a uniform, she threatened the school management with the filing of a complaint for discrimination.
@iq_wen: I was in love with a white man who left me when he saw me in my costume. You have no idea how much pain I felt. But I never stopped my being [indigenous], doing so was to disrespect the struggle of my grandparents to defend the few rights that I have. It is difficult to write this still.
@Almafebril: One time I went clothes shopping with an ex. When she was choosing, I showed her a shirt that was brightly decorated and she said to me: ‘that no, looks like the clothing of those ones’. I didn’t understand and I asked her who are ‘those’ and she answered, women making tortillas.
@danixco_: When I was in college, I introduced myself with my surname, ‘Ixcotoyac’, automatically a buddy started teasing me. Why is that surname a reason for ridicule?
@IximLucia: My name is Lucía Ixchiu Hernández and many people call me Lucía Hernández because they do not want to say my Indigenous surname and they always say my surname is strange or ugly, they have asked me if it is from another country, I answer: it is K’iché.
@Fernando_024: My great-aunt was employed as a domestic servant all her life. The people that she worked for decided to name her ‘María’, even though her real name was Eugenia, as every Indigenous are to be called so. She died being named this. So this country downplays Indigenous women and domestic employees. Their personal identity was irrelevant, they were seen as a ‘something’, not as people or equals.
@simon_antun: The stories that are shared with #GuateRacista are incredible. Mine happened in sixth grade, the teacher forced the whole group to not speak Q´anjob´al in a class room of Q´anjob´al. The times that he was almost screaming, ‘speak to me in Spanish’. Someone could ask where is the racism in this. It is in the education system, in not allowing the use of the language.
For more of these stories, follow the hashtag #GuateRacista