Negative reaction to the success of indigenous Oscar-nominated actress Yalitza Aparicio is pure racism, a sociology researcher contends.
Natividad Gutiérrez Chong, a researcher at the National Autonomous University (UNAM), said in an interview that scornful comments about the 25-year-old Mixtec star of Alfonso Cuarón’s film Roma are the product of the average Mexican’s psyche inherited from the Spanish in colonial times.
“When the Spanish arrived, they subjugated native women and their worth was reduced to domesticity,” she said.
Hundreds of years later, the antiquated belief that an indigenous woman’s place is in the home – often carrying out the domestic chores of the wealthy – persists and manifests itself in comments such as that made by telenovela (soap opera) actor Sergio Goyri, Gutiérrez said.
Earlier this month, Goyri called Aparicio “a damn Indian” and declared it was unthinkable that an indigenous woman “who only says sí señora, no señora [yes ma’am, no ma’am]” could be nominated for a best-actress Oscar.
“Yalitza’s talents have been trivialized,” Gutiérrez said.
“People think that she doesn’t act and that’s she’s just being herself in the movie but that’s a big mistake because she’s a preschool teacher . . . so she is acting and responding to the instructions of the director,” she added.
The academic said that discrimination towards Mexico’s native population has always existed but the success of some female members of different indigenous communities, such as Aparicio, is making them more visible and that riles a lot of people, some of whom take to social media to vent.
“This happens because the racist fears that another person – in this case an indigenous woman – is taking something that he or she thinks belongs to him or her [just] for being white,” Gutiérrez said.
“. . . Racism is a brake on social mobility for those below, it’s a brake on the success of those below . . .” she added.
A similar phenomenon occurred with María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, an indigenous woman who unsuccessfully attempted to run in last year’s presidential election.
However, the backlash against the Nahua woman affectionately known as Marichuy was less because no one truly believed that she would achieve the success she sought, Gutiérrez said.
President López Obrador also weighed in on the issue this morning while congratulating Roma director Cuarón for taking home three Oscars last night.
The leftist said that he hasn’t seen the film but agreed with Cuarón’s remarks that racism continues to plague Mexico.
“I completely agree with him. Unfortunately, Mexico still has a lot of racism. I send him a hug from here and I congratulate him,” López Obrador said.