Oaxaca’s Cultural Sovereignty: A Collective Effort


Oaxaca’s Cultural Sovereignty is possible! Here, I reflect on my personal lived experiences as a Oaxaqueña and critique the commodification and commercialization of Oaxacan cultures. I critique and give feedback from a place of love and care. Love and care are personally and collectively important to me. 

I was 16 when I got my first official job at a restaurant. At my 3-month performance review, I got promoted. But I also got feedback on the areas where I could improve. I appreciated that someone cared enough to help me do even better. In that same spirit, I reflect on, critique and give feedback on many things related to Oaxaca and things happening to Oaxaca. Some topics include Indigeneity and identity, migration, mezcal, Indigenous and Oaxaca foods and beverages, Indigenous lifeways and erasure, the tourism economy, motherhood, education and much more. I speak from my lived experiences as a Oaxaqueña-born and California-raised woman. I also bring my experiences from academia: the theories, frameworks, models, and thinkers from the various disciplines I was exposed to, as well as the survival of the toxicity.  

I am somewhat of an idealist. I regularly wonder “what if?” Both about what if things had been or happened differently (the past) and what if we can do things differently (the present and future). I’m oriented this way because when I reflect on my life trajectory, I’m in awe of the miracles and synchronicities. I am a first generation of many things. First to graduate from high school, college, graduate school, and even found an organization. One of the first to have the economic means and courage to leave relationships that are harmful and hurtful. Given the multitude of traumas I’ve experienced, from the interpersonal to the systemic, academic literature and other scientific findings point that I should’ve been at risk for damaging outcomes. I’ve had more than my fair share of lows, but possibility and what if? continue to fuel my passion and belief for more equitable and harmonious possibilities.

While at times I feel defeated by the systems that be and the cynicism that Oaxaca has already experienced too much cultural theft and Indigenous erasure to do anything about it, I owe it to my younger self to keep moving towards the “impossible.” That’s who (my adolescent being) got me through some of the hardest days, that relentless and ambitious attitude. Words have power to create futures, to resurface his-her-their-story so that we can remember who we are, and if it doesn’t reach a larger collective, at least I’m leaving some evidence of our existence in the real and digital worlds. 

If you have questions, check out my FAQ

To learn more about cultural appropriation, check out this article.

More to come