Indigenous Mexican leaders of Ventura County will publicly launch the “No Me Llames Oaxaquita!” (Don’t call me little Oaxacan!) campaign at a press conference at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 17 at the Center for Employment Training, 761 So. C St., Oxnard, the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) reported this week in a media release.
Mixtec youth and adults will speak at the press conference about their efforts to reduce bullying against indigenous Mexican children and workers in Ventura County, while raising awareness of this problem and encouraging indigenous pride.
There are about 20,000 indigenous Mexicans in Ventura County, mostly Mixtecs from the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero. The majority of them work in the county’s strawberry industry. Many Mixtecs speak only their native language of Mixteco, leaving them vulnerable to isolation, MICOP reported. The centuries-old anti-indigenous discrimination that many Mixtecs experienced in Mexico has followed them to the U.S., and Mixtecs are increasingly being bullied in schools and in the workplace. Children and adults are frequently taunted for their indigenous appearance or for speaking Mixteco.
Hundreds of Mixtec children attend the Rio, Hueneme, Oxnard, Oceanview and Oxnard Unified School Districts. The campaign will urge school boards throughout the Oxnard Plains to adopt an antibullying policy that promotes inclusion of all students. The policy would prohibit the hate words “Oaxaquita” and “indito” from being used on school property, encourage lessons about indigenous Mexican culture and history, and mandate the formation of a committee in each school district to combat all forms of bullying against all children.
Youth and adult leaders from MICOP developed and are leading the “No Me Llames Oaxaquita!” campaign. They are encouraging Mixtec adults to teach their children the Mixtec language and culture, while also encouraging adults to learn Spanish and English. Leaders also provide cultural awareness trainings to local agencies and schools who wish to increase their familiarity with this community.
Founded in 2001, MICOP unites speakers of indigenous languages with Spanish- and Englishspeaking allies to aid and encourage the empowerment of the Mixtec community in Ventura County. MICOP serves more than 5,000 unduplicated individuals annually through Mixteco-language family services, adult education, leadership development, humanitarian assistance, interpreter services, and community organizing.