When I partnered with the Indigenous Peoples March for their #WhyIMarch campaign, the first question they asked was, “Why are you marching?” and an overwhelming amount of reasons washed over me. How could I possibly only choose one? For hours I obsessed about this. Not coming up with a solid answer immediately started to make me believe that I had no real reason to go.
But after putting my phone down and looking in the mirror, I realized there was always one main reason: To tell our stories to remind them we aren’t leaving.
Ever since I could remember, I didn’t see myself or my Latinx community’s stories in media. It’s one of the reasons I became a journalist. For over 10 years now, I’ve made sure to have my voice heard and leave my mark wherever I worked, even if I had to ruffle some feathers. If the rest of the world doesn’t see us fully represented in media, it will be as if we never existed and I cannot let that happen.
I can no longer live in a world where one story continues to be told about the brown faces in this country. That we are takers. That we don’t belong here. That we aren’t American. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I march for my fellow indigenous people in this country who cross the border willing to take the jobs nobody wants, are underpaid for hard and back-breaking work, help raise privileged children, and bust their ass in kitchens all over the country working long hours with little to no recognition for their hard work. Leaving everything behind for a chance at a better life is the most American trait and yet we are made out to be the villains.
I’m marching to show solidarity for the people I said goodbye to at Standing Rock. Who had been there before me and would stay there risking their lives thereafter. Who put their lives at risk to protect our land and water. I hope I did your stories justice. I have nothing but respect for you.
I’m marching to let my fellow Peruanas, cholita bellas, around the world know that they are loved. That their high cheekbones are to be held with pride because they are descendants of ancestral beauties, innovators, and a thriving culture.
I’m marching to let the future generation know that identifying as indigenous is a privilege. To embrace every ounce of your past and have it shine through your soul so everyone can see.
I’m marching for every woman of color who identifies as a bruja who was ever afraid to do so because of ridicule, society’s standards, or plain taboo. I’m marching for all the girls who have had to live Catholic by day and bruja by night. Burn your sage and palo santo, bruja.
I’m marching because there’s an environmental holocaust happening. This is all native land and we need to take care of it because we are the land. We hurt it and we hurt ourselves.
I’m marching because I never want to go missing and have the media not care because of my brown skin as that has been the case for many indigenous women missing.
I’m marching for Misty Upham who was a promising young Native American starlet who was allegedly raped at the 2013 golden globe awards by an executive from an infamous distribution company in the men’s bathroom, while a group of men cheered her rapist on. She never came forward for fear of her career and her life. About a year later she went missing and was later found dead.
I’m marching because indigenous rights are human rights.
The Indigenous Peoples March is this Friday, January 18th (the day before the Women’s March). The gather location will be at the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office, at 1849 C Street NW, Washington D.C. There will be a prayer at 9am and the march to JFK Hockey Field (National Mall) begins at 10 am. The rally will take place from 11-5pm at 1964 Independence Ave. SW. For more information, click here.