Encounter With an Oppressor

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It’s been forgotten by the government, and remembered by tourists. Gringos, Europeans, and me take pictures of baroque churches and temples. An anthropologist I met on the city square said this is one of the Mexican states with more churches. In another conversation, he said Oaxaca is one of the most repressed states.

“It’s been like this for more than 510 years; the only thing that has changed is the color of the oppressor’s hand,” he added.

Walking through the cobblestones streets, I feel the “real Mexico” in the air. The colonial architecture  makes me stop for a second, while an “indigenous lady” tries to sell me some beads.

We’re face to face under the burning sun and surrounded by colorful adobe houses. Me wearing brand new snickers and clothes that make me look like a tourist. She wearing a traditional, hand-woven blouse and skirt that makes her look autochthonous.

We are not from the same place, and we both know it. How can I let her know that this is not myself? It’s just a mere social construct.

“Sorry, I’ve no money,” I lie.

“ Just 20 pesos, Señorita,” she says.

She’s older than me, yet she speaks in a more respectful tone than myself, as if I were superior.

She starts begging; I walk away while I continue saying sorry.

This scene happens thirty times per day, with various people, especially kids.

One of those kids was trying to sell me a bracelet. I said no five times. He grabbed my hand and said, “At least give me a coin.” I looked at his tiny dirty hand already marked by life. I looked at my hand and discovered the color of the oppressor’s hand.