María José López: Listening to indigenous women can save our souls.

María José López says that she is “very clearly white,” but she chooses not to live “the canonically white lifestyle” in her home town of Mexico City. Instead, she explores her indigenous roots with the women of the Zapatista movement, building networks of communication and resistance.

María proposes that the wisdom of indigenous women can lead us to a worthy life, even in the face of worldwide collapse:

“They not only know practically how to do it; they have a cosmogony, a spiritual view, a literary view, poetic view of what is happening that also soothes the soul and the body.

“It helps when you view Earth as a living being, and what is happening to it right now as an ‘agony.’ They know how to take care of the Earth. There are a lot of people that do have ideas, that do have ways of at least making the years we have, however little or however many they may be…they can make this place livable, and somewhere to be celebrated, and somewhere you can cherish the fact that you are alive and that you are human.

“They know that, and we don’t know that, because we’ve pushed them out of our lives. They want to share. They don’t only want to live for themselves. They want to share what they know, because they know we need it.”

María is the social media editor at Piedepagina.mx (“Footnote” — English language page here). She’s an independent teacher, and an activist for women’s liberation and resisting collapse.

6 Replies to “María José López: Listening to indigenous women can save our souls.”

    1. (I hesitated to approve an anonymous comment, but let’s see what happens.)

      How could you possibly judge? I think the whole point is that she can evaluate her own position without any help from you or anyone else. Clearly, the designation “very clearly white” is meaningful to María in the context in which she lives. That is profoundly interesting information, and an expression of her journey in her society.

    2. I am Mexican, and could check a “Hispanic” box on some form in the United States, but here in Mexico, if you’re white, you’re white. If I go to the US, people think I’m American, or white. Here in Mexico, I get preferential treatment, I don’t get harrassed at businesses for loitering, I am priviledged in general. People from my same background who have darker skin get discriminated; it gets worse when people are from poorer or rural backgrounds.

      1. The connection between privilege and complexion is becoming clearer to this immigrant living in Mexico. Illustrated, for example, in my middle class suburb, where lighter complexioned women avoid physical labor of any kind, preferring to hire in household and yard help. Physical labor seems almost invariably to be carried out by darker skinned people.

      2. Very interesting comments. I do believe there are some important issues raised here.

        I will speak about myself (not you María José, of course), to maybe take the conversation in a different direction. Not sure what the intention of the original post was, but here is my view. 🙂

        I too find it a bit “awkward” to consider myself ‘white’ when I am mestiza. In a Latin American context I may “look white” (with all the privileges that may come along with that – though I will say, more privileges come with being perceived to have money).

        In the US, where I live now, I can seem white (however, like you María José, the hispanic complexion is visible and the last name makes it clearer) and yet I am 100% considered hispanic by others – which, yes, comes along with a very different treatment.

        In Europe, where I have also lived, I have been asked if I am from Spain (or the Middle East). Again, depending on which European country I am in, will bring different treatment.

        All that to say that, of course, what we look like (or how we are perceived) will change our relative privileges. And yet, if I have learned anything from indigenous knowledge, the connection to our roots and to others is probably one of the most important teachings. That being said, I love and am extremely proud of being mestiza.

        For me, resisting the urge to consider myself white (especially since I am not) – even in contexts where others may see me as white – has enabled me to appreciate all parts of myself even more.

        Nice podcast David and María José.

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