After scandal, L.A. band Las Cafeteras sings ode to Oaxaca

She called them “dark little people,” adding, “light brown Feos(“they’re ugly”) and claimed she didn’t know where they came from.

Former LA City Council President Nury Martinez’s recently leaked racist remarks about Los Angeles-based Oaxacans sparked a major backlash this week, leading to her resignation on Wednesday.

Martinez’s comments tapped into stereotypes long used against Oaxacans in Mexico and the United States.

Appalled by Martinez’s comments, LA Chicano folk-spoken band Las Cafeteras, formed in 2005, wanted to remind fans of the beauty of Oaxaca with their 2021 song “Oaxaca Love Song No2.”

The band shared the song in a TikTok video on Wednesday that has more than 90,000 views. “While Latino politicians hate indigenous Oaxacans…we wrote them a love song,” the accompanying lyrics read.

In Oaxaca todo brilla y se come con tortilla‘ singer Hector Flores proudly belts out at the end of the video, which is a snippet from the track’s music video. “In Oaxaca everything glitters and you eat with a tortilla.”

Most of the comments below the video expressed their love and support for Oaxaca and its people.

“As an Oaxaqueña, I love this,” wrote @yeya.25 in the TikTok comments.

@millennialtrapped wrote “Love to Oaxaca from a Zacatecan” referring to people from the state of Zacatecas, Mexico.

“We used to go to Juquila, Oaxaca every summer and loved driving through the hills, all natural beauty,” recalled @heathercar_16.

“Que viva Oaxaca!” @serengarr simply but proudly proclaimed.

“I feel like them [leaked] Recording has, for better or for worse, created a new day in Los Angeles,” Las Cafeteras’ Flores told The Times. “And I think it’s our responsibility now as people of color, especially Mexicans, Chicanos and Latinos, to really use this as an opportunity to do better — to be better.”

Flores — an East LA Mexican-American who describes himself as an organizer, activist, and artist — incorporated elements of 1960s psychedelic, big band, folk, and son jarocho (regional folk music from the 1960s) into the song Mexican state of Veracruz) integrated. .

The track describes Flores’ experience of eating tacos de quesito (cheese tacos) and tlayudas (a regional Oaxacan dish) and the beautiful things of Oaxaca, from its people to its land.

Flores’ description of the beauty of Oaxaca stands in direct contrast to Martinez’s dastardly comments, which the musician says are not uncommon in the Latino community.

“You can’t talk about Nury without talking about the elephant in the room — she’s not the only one,” he said, adding that Martinez and fellow LA City Council members Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo “are examples of this , which will continue to happen if we don’t do the work we need to do internally and externally.

A woman dressed in white speaks into a microphone

Los Angeles City Council President and 6th Circuit Representative Nury Martinez resigned this week after leaked audio revealed that she and several other Latino council members had made racist remarks about several minority groups in the city.

(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

The 40-year-old musician acknowledged that while there are many great parts of Mexican culture, there are also “toxic” aspects. White supremacy, he said, is as strong in Mexico as it is in the United States.

“Racism, colorism, homophobia, and patriarchy are longstanding values ​​of Mexicans and are therefore becoming longstanding values ​​for Mexican Americans as well. … In Mexico there is racism against indigenous people, the colonial caste system is still intact.”

Los Angeles is home to one of the largest Oaxaca communities outside of Mexico. Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, a professor in UCLA’s Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, estimates that Los Angeles County is home to as many as 200,000 Zapotecs – the largest indigenous group from Oaxaca. As early as the 1940s, immigrants from Oaxaca came to the United States in search of better wages and jobs, working in agriculture under the Bracero program. Oaxaca in southern Mexico is one of the poorest states in the country, but its people have had a huge influence on US culture and food, and helped shape Los Angeles.

Oaxacans in Mexico have long faced prejudice and struggle to be represented. Yalitza Aparicio faced a challenge after becoming Mexico’s first indigenous woman to be nominated for an Oscar for leading actress in the 2018 film Roma a surge of vitriol by other Mexican celebrities calling the actor “fea” (“ugly”) and “india” (“Indian”, derogatory).

Las Cafeteras members aren’t the only Angelenos defending Oaxacans. There will be a Oaxacan Justice March in Los Angeles this Saturday. The procession, which begins at 12:00 p.m. at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, will be a celebration of Oaxacan culture and an opportunity for Angelenos to show solidarity with the city’s sizable Oaxacan community.

“I would be lying if I said I don’t have any family members who haven’t said things like that,” Flores said of Martinez’s inflammatory comments. “And I feel like for Latinos, we think so [confronting racism] must only apply to all white people … No, we must understand [our racism] as much as anyone – the Mexican community as much as anyone.”

In an Instagram post Wednesday, Las Cafeteras expanded on the message presented in “Oaxaca Love Song No2.”

“Last year we wrote a love song ❤️ to Oaxaca called ‘Oaxaca Love Song #2’ – for our love for the culture, for the food and for the indigenous resilience of the peoples of Oaxaca… the culture in Cali is so strong that people used the term OaxaCalifornia ❤️ Check released the music video that begins with @ponchostlayudas speaking Zapotec – one of the indigenous languages ​​of Oaxaca! …Que Viva #Oaxaca #ResignNow #OaxaCalifornia #tlayudas #porvida”

Flores, who was inspired to write the song during a trip to Oaxaca in 2018, told The Times he had the “No State.

“The reason I call it number two is because I’m not Oaxacan, and there’s no way a non-Oaxacan will ever write the best Oaxacan love song. So the best I can hope for is to finish number two,” he said

“You don’t have to be from a place to rise, a place, a people, a culture,” Flores said.

When creating the track’s music video, Flores and the band wanted to create something that really felt like Oaxaca.

“So we started [the video] away with poncho from Poncho’s Tlayudas, who sells the best tlayudas in LA from their South LA backyard every Friday night. And we wanted him to present the video in Zapotec,” he said. “This was a way for us to pay homage to the native languages ​​that are still spoken in LA.

“Silence is a killer more than anything, right, just as silence can erase a culture as words can,” Flores said. “And I feel like if we don’t hear it, we almost think it doesn’t exist.”

“Oaxacan Love Song No2” isn’t the band’s only foray into activist messages. Her 2012 song “It’s Movement Time” documents what Flores calls “black-brown solidarity” in Mexico and the United States. The track “If I Was President” imagines the United States being run with less corruption and more empathy and solidarity.

“For this video to get some love now at a time when the people of Oaxaca are being beat up and hated, it’s like ‘No, uh-uh, let’s show the love,'” Flores said of the surge in popularity of the songs. “Because I think right now a lot of people are emphasizing the divisions. But it takes one bad thing to overshadow 10 good things. You know, and that’s just the reality of our world.” After scandal, L.A. band Las Cafeteras sings ode to Oaxaca

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