After scandal, LA band Las Cafeteras sing ode to Oaxaca


She called them “little dark people”, adding “Sun tanning” (“they are ugly”) and claimed that she did not know where they came from.

Former Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez’s recently leaked racist remarks about Oaxaca residents living in Los Angeles sparked a major backlash this week that led to his resignation on Wednesday.

Martinez’s comments used stereotypes that have long been used against Oaxaca people in Mexico and the United States.

LA Chicano band Las Cafeteras, which formed in 2005 and fuse folk music with spoken word, were horrified by Martinez’s comments and wanted to remind fans of the beauty of Oaxaca with their 2021 song “Oaxaca Love Song No2”.

So on Wednesday, the band shared the song in a TikTok video, which has over 90,000 views. “While the Latino politicians hate the natives of Oaxaca…we wrote them a love song,” reads the accompanying text.

In Oaxaca todo brilla y se come con tortillasinger Hector Flores proudly exclaims at the end of the video, which is an excerpt from the track’s music video. “Everything shines in Oaxaca 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 it,” @yeya.25 wrote in the comments on TikTok.

@millennialtrapped wrote, “I love Oaxaca from a Zacatecan,” referring to people from the Mexican state of Zacatecas.

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

“Oaxaca long live! @serengarr simply, but proudly proclaimed.

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

In the song, Flores – a Mexican-born East Los Angeles resident who describes himself as an organizer, activist and entertainer – incorporated elements of ’60s psychedelia, big band, folk music and of son jarocho (regional folk music from the Mexican state of Veracruz).

The track then 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 Oaxacan beauty stands in direct contrast to Martinez’s insidious 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 member Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, are “examples of what will continue to happen”. if we don’t do the work we need to do internally and externally.

Los Angeles City Council Speaker and 6th District Representative Nury Martinez resigned this week after leaked audio revealed she and several other Latino council members made racist remarks about several minority groups from 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, has as much sway over Mexico as it has over the United States.

“Racism, colorism, homophobia, patriarchy are long-standing values ​​of Mexicans and, therefore, have become long-standing values ​​for Mexican Americans as well. … In Mexico, there is racism against the indigenous peoples, the caste system of colonialism is still intact.

Los Angeles is home to one of the largest communities in Oaxaca outside of Mexico. Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, a professor in the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UCLA, estimated that there were as many as 200,000 Zapotecs – the largest indigenous group in Oaxaca – living in Los Angeles County. As early as the 1940s, immigrants from Oaxaca came to the United States in search of better wages and jobs, working in agriculture through the bracero program. Oaxaca, located in southern Mexico, is one of the poorest states in the country, but the locals have deeply influenced American culture and cuisine and helped shape Los Angeles.

People in Oaxaca, Mexico have long faced prejudice and struggled to be represented. After Yalitza Aparicio became the first indigenous woman from Mexico to be nominated for the Oscar for lead actress in the 2018 film “Roma”, she faced a wave of vitriol other Mexican celebrities, calling the actor “fea” (“ugly”) and “india” (“Indian”, pejoratively).

Members of Las Cafeteras aren’t the only Angelenos standing up for Oaxacans. There will be a march for justice from Oaxaca this Saturday in Los Angeles. The procession, which begins at noon at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College, will be a celebration of Oaxacan culture and an opportunity for Angelenos to show solidarity with the city’s large Oaxacan community.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t have family members who didn’t say such things,” Flores said of Martinez’s inflammatory comments. “And I feel like for Latinos, we think that [confronting racism] just has to apply to all white… No, we have to understand [our racism] as much as anyone else – the Mexican community, as much as anyone else.

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

“Last year we wrote a love song ❤️ in Oaxaca called ‘Oaxaca Love Song #2’ – for our love of the culture, food and indigenous resilience of the people of Oaxaca…culture is so strong in Cali that people coined the term OaxaCalifornia ❤️ Check out the video clip that starts with @ponchostlayudas speaking in Zapotec – one of Oaxaca’s native languages!… Que Viva #Oaxaca #ResignNow #OaxaCalifornia #tlayudas # porvida »

Flores, who was inspired to write the song during a 2018 trip to Oaxaca, told The Times he added the “No2” in the track’s title because he knows he’ll never be the one to write. the best love letter to the Mexican. State.

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

“You don’t have to be from one place to bring up, one place, one people, one culture,” Flores said.

When constructing the track’s music video, Flores and the band wanted to create something that truly sounded like Oaxaca.

“So we started [the video] head out with Poncho from Poncho’s Tlayudas, which sells LA’s best tlayudas from its South LA backyard every Friday night. And we wanted him to present the video in Zapotec,” he said. “It was a way for us to give a nod to the native languages ​​that are still spoken in LA A nod to the people who organize Oaxaca and the chefs in LA, you know, by non-Oaxacans, like me.”

“Silence is deadlier than anything, isn’t it, as silence will do as much to erase a culture as words can,” Flores said. “And I feel like when 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 messaging. Their 2012 song “It’s Movement Time” documents what Flores calls “black and brown solidarity” in Mexico and the United States. The band’s 2017 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 in a time when the people of Oaxaca are beaten, hated, it’s like, ‘No, uh-uh, let’s show the love,'” Flores said about of the song’s peak popularity. “Because I think right now a lot of people are highlighting the divisions. But it takes one bad thing to outshine 10 good things. You know, and that’s just the reality of our world.


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