Racism against indigenous peoples – alive and well

Menchú We all know that to be a woman is hard, to be a woman on minority ethnic descent harder. Spare a thought for Rigoberta Menchú, Nobel Peace Prize winner, UNESCO ambassador, Guatamalan Presidential Candidate, women’s and indigenous people’s rights activist and trade unionist. Despite her international renown Menchú was evicted from a hotel in Cancun recently. What had she done wrong? Tried to enter wearing traditional Mayan dress.

Apparently to do so is to be taken for a beggar, bag-lady or street vendow. Now lets just pause here – the wearing of traditional dress is assumed to mean you are dispossessed and penniless. That is, the celebration of traditional ethnic identities is seen to mean you cannot, at the same time, be engaged in modern life and must be begging. As the Guardian comments:

Commentators noted the irony of upmarket resorts discriminating against real Maya while trying to attract tourists with fake Mayan architecture and spectacles. From The Guardian

Sad comment on the impacts of globalization and gender.