Being indigenous: heritage not an obstacle

In Mexico, not everyone is equal; there's a pervasive race discrimination against the indigenous people
File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
26/11/2017
09:02
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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In Mexico, facts tell us not everyone is equal. Despite being one of the core principles of our Constitution, rights equality in Mexican society is not applicable to all. And as a clear manifestation of this gap we have thus far been unable to close, there's a pervasive race discrimination – racism – against indigenous people.

Particularly in the labor market, mainly because of the color of their skin, their low academic level, and their economic situation, which are reasons why this sector of the population is constantly discriminated. A natural aspect like speaking in their native tongue can become an object of derision and exclusion.

In Mexico City, there are 960,059 inhabitants who consider themselves indigenous, according to a 2015 mid-term survey performed by the National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INEGI). This represents 9% of the total population of the capital city; yet out of this total, only 397,148 – less than a half – have a job, mostly in the trade or construction sectors or as craftsmen or skilled workers. From all the indigenous people who said they have a job, only 3% had a management position. Talking about wages, barely 2% of this sector has managed to earn a high wage – between MXN$50,000 and MXN$250,000 per month.

And this is because, according to experts, labor discrimination happens because of the absurd belief that indigenous populations are primitives, savages, or backward individuals. Racism, to put it simply. There is a belief that indigenous people are inferior, not only because of the color of their skin, but because of something which transcends their physiognomy, culture, or economic position.

Furthermore, Mexico City is an area with high levels of classism, where it matters how you look, dress, and speak, especially in the working environment, where people who don't fit in are excluded.

The road to change this implies reflecting on our class and race prejudices and value people for their capabilities. We need to understand being an indigenous person is not a condition of inferiority, a value we have to start teaching our children. Putting an end to racism is a responsibility of all and something which will undoubtedly bring benefits to our society as a whole.

Our ethnic origin, the color of our skin, the language we speak, and our physical traits and culture must be seen as an advantage, an opportunity for our country, not as an obstacle.

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