This summer I visited Mexico, specifically Oaxaca city in the state of Oaxaca, which I had never been to. I went during the festival of the Guelaguetza, where grand communities of Oaxacan indigenous peoples come together to make a grand month-long festival showcasing their languages, music, foods, dances, beliefs, expert and unbelievable artisan crafts, engaging their entire communities in extremely well organized events that simultaneously raise funds and support them. It is a festival that comes directly from the vocal chords and hands of the people.
Decorations like the one in this photograph were placed all over Oaxaca city, grand displays of Papel Picado on ceilings. I decided to flip the photograph vertically, though, because I found that this orientation led the eye better to the center, and it reminded me of a field of flowers.
I have no family there, I am not from there, and I have never lived there, but I feel a connection to it because Oaxaca is an integral part of Mexican culture. It holds a great part of the surviving indigenous communities of Mexico, who are strongly unified in cultural pride, who have maintained their traditions and incredible languages across the centuries. See, very unlike the United States, Mexican identity relies heavily on these indigenous cultures (as well as that of our colonizers the Spaniards), and even though systems of deep racism and abuse of these indigenous peoples are constantly working to eradicate them, there is also no greater source of pride, unity, and self-love found than in our indigenous roots. This strange oxymoron of a culture is something extremely crucial to my identity, my culture, my entire self. It is a part of what being Mexican means for me, it is a part of what existing means for me. I infinitely admire these indigenous communities and the people of the Oaxacan city for their song, dance, creation, their true fight for their freedom, their lives.