The Fight to Preserve Identity: Indigenous Weavers in Guatemala

The Fight to Preserve Identity: Indigenous Weavers in Guatemala

Commodifying indigenous culture is not just insensitive, it destroys ways of life and economic opportunities.
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Think that “Navajo printed top” you bought from Urban Outfitters is just the right amount of cute and edgy? You probably don’t realize that your cultural appropriation is not only insensitive, it is also pushing indigenous people – mostly women – out of their traditional markets and threatening to completely erase aspects of a variety of cultures.

In Guatemala, women weavers have had enough of the hypocrisy. Similar to the appropriation Urban committed against the Navajo (and countless other communities), companies like Maria’s Bags will sell purses with indigenous designs for hundreds of dollars without the consent of the communities the designs come from. These multinational corporations benefit from a system that appropriates indigenous culture while discriminating against the people behind it.

High-end corporations like Maria’s Bags aren’t the only emerging market pushing indigenous women out of their livelihoods; Chinese companies are also moving in and computerizing these designs to be quickly printed onto things like your Urban Outfitters top. While this is cheaper than, you know, a product that provides its original creator with a living wage, it contributes to a system of globalization that appropriates and misuses cultural traditions while erasing their authenticity and the autonomy of the people responsible for them.

Indigenous women in Guatemala organized with the Women's Association for the Development of Sacatepéquez (AFEDES) to combat the infringement of their intellectual property on November 24 during a march to Congress to propose a bill copywriting indigenous designs to indigenous communities. With the long history of discrimination against indigenous people, the bill faces an uphill battle to passing. However, the recognition indigenous weavers are getting is the first step to a big win for cultural preservation and economic empowerment for marginalized communities in Guatemala and across the Americas.

More and more, indigenous women in Latin America are fighting to have their rights as citizens upheld and for the economic stability they have been denied since colonization. Multinational companies not only appropriate indigenous cultures, they also do not contribute any jobs or income to the communities whose ideals they steal. If you would like to nix your last-season (not to mention offensive) Urban top, consider looking into companies like Trama, Vayu, Asociación de Artesanos Andinos, and Hiptipico.

Cover Image Credit: Guillén Pérez

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6 Things You Should Know About The Woman Who Can't Stand Modern Feminism

Yes, she wants to be heard too.

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2018 is sort of a trap for this woman. She believes in women with all of the fire inside of her, but it is hard for her to offer support when people are making fools of themselves and disguising it as feminism.

The fact of the matter is that women possess qualities that men don't and men possess qualities that women don't. That is natural. Plus, no one sees men parading the streets in penis costumes complaining that they don't get to carry their own fetus for nine months.

1. She really loves and values women.

She is incredibly proud to be a woman.

She knows the amount of power than a woman's presence alone can hold. She sees when a woman walks into a room and makes the whole place light up. She begs that you won't make her feel like a "lady hater" because she doesn't want to follow a trend that she doesn't agree with.

2. She wants equality, too

She has seen the fundamental issues in the corporate world, where women and men are not receiving equal pay.

She doesn't cheer on the businesses that don't see women and men as equivalents. But she does recognize that if she works her butt off, she can be as successful as she wants to.

3. She wears a bra.

While she knows the "I don't have to wear a bra for society" trend isn't a new one, but she doesn't quite get it. Like maybe she wants to wear a bra because it makes her feel better. Maybe she wears a bra because it is the normal things to do... And that's OK.

Maybe she wants to put wear a lacy bra and pretty makeup to feel girly on .a date night. She is confused by the women who claim to be "fighting for women," because sometimes they make her feel bad for expressing her ladyhood in a different way than them.

4. She hates creeps just as much as you do. .

Just because she isn't a feminist does not mean that she is cool with the gruesome reality that 1 in 5 women are sexually abused.

In fact, this makes her stomach turn inside out to think about. She knows and loves people who have been through such a tragedy and wants to put the terrible, creepy, sexually charged criminals behind bars just as bad as the next woman.

Remember that just because she isn't a feminist doesn't mean she thinks awful men can do whatever they want.

5. There is a reason she is ashamed of 2018's version of feminism.

She looks at women in history who have made a difference and is miserably blown away by modern feminism's performance.

Not only have women in the past won themselves the right to vote, but also the right to buy birth control and have credit cards in their names and EVEN saw marital rape become a criminal offense.

None of them dressed in vagina costumes to win anyone over though... Crazy, right?

6. She isn't going to dress in a lady parts costume to prove a point.

This leaves her speechless. It is like the women around her have absolutely lost their minds and their agendas, only lessening their own credibility.

"Mom, what are those ladies on TV dressed up as?"

"Ummm... it looks to me like they are pink taco's honey."

She loves who she is and she cherished what makes her different from the men around her. She doesn't want to compromise who she is as a woman just so she can be "equal with men."

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If You Voted to Take My Rights Away This Election, Block Me

I am an American just as you but I do not have time to be friends with Republicans.

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You might find this harsh but…

I don't want to be friends with anyone who voted Republican this election.

What about friendship despite the odds? What about coexistence and tolerance? Why does it matter?

If you cannot support my rights as a woman, or my rights as a person of color, or my rights as a human being, I do not want to be your friend. If you do not support trans rights, reproductive rights, and #BlackLivesMatter, I do not want to be your friend. If you do not want to support Native Americans and indigenous peoples, if you do not want to support asylum seekers, if you do not want to support immigration, I do not want to be your friend.

I owe you nothing.

I know that this seems harsh, but if you sided with Donald Trump in the previous election, voted for Brian Kemp -a literal criminal- I do not owe you a single ounce of my energy.

Brian Kemp? A criminal, you say?

Voter suppression is an illegal act. Destroying ballots is an illegal act. Not sending power cords and broken machines to polling locations? Probably should be illegal.

This is not just because of a party difference, but I genuinely believe that we were cut from different cloths, raised differently, and have a different worldview.

I do not want to spend my time arguing with you. I do not want to spend my time telling you why I deserve rights. I do not want to spend time telling you why my brown brothers and sisters deserve rights. I do not want to tell you why my sisters of all shapes and sizes and colors should have bodily autonomy and the right to live freely. These things should be inherent.

I have spent so much time in my short life telling people that I deserve to be treated as any other human person that I am burned out. It is not my responsibility for me to make you "woke". Read some literature. Get woke.

I could care less if you voted Libertarian or Green Party or Democratic. I do not have it in me to argue with you on that, because you are entitled to vote however you choose -but the moment your party and your vote steps on my rights, I am not here to play nice.

My civil rights are not yours to take.

This midterm election is so important for many reasons. I did not wake up at 5:30 today with an alarm, rather, my body woke me up and let me know that today is a day of history.

So I extend my congratulations to all the new-elects. Many women of color today made history. I cannot wait to hear the results in Georgia, my home, and hopefully soon, the home of the first African American female governor of Georgia.

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