A few days ago there was a caravan full of indigenous art and clothes that came to our city. My family went of course; our traditional clothes and art are beautiful, and also we had nothing better to do. So we saddled everyone up in the car and went to the park where the caravan had set itself up.
I took a lot of pictures, I even took a video of a toy as I played with it, and for about forty-five minutes, I was, without a doubt, entertained.
Then we left, and as we left, I had a feeling of emptiness and sadness in my heart. Even though there were dozens of people walking around, not one of them was buying things. We certainly weren’t. I was taking pictures like crazy and trying on all sorts of hats, I was enjoying myself and the art, but I wasn’t supporting it. Neither were most of the people at the park, we were all just browsing and not buying anything at all.
And I thought, “We take everything here so lightly. We treat this as entertainment, but it’s not. This isn’t entertainment. This that is before us is the product of the hard work, and sweat, and hopes, and maybe even blood of the indigenous people of Mexico. We come here and take it as entertainment, ‘Oh look at this colorful shirt!’ ‘Oh look at this calavera!’ ‘isn’t Mexican culture beautiful!'” And we undoubtedly appreciate this art, because we flock to see it whenever the caravans set up, but we can’t claim to love our native art and our traditional clothing if we do not support it, if we do not recognize these clothes and calaveras for what they are. Because they’re more than just, “Pretty green shirt,” and, “Pretty red zarape.” They are hours of indigenous work. They are hopes of a daughter’s education, hopes of medicine for a parent, they are all that and the survival of a people that are oppressed and shrinking.
If the money doesn’t come in, neither will the art. How will it if people have to do other work to keep themselves alive? If we want to keep seeing beautiful clothing and jewelry and native art, we need to recognize that supporting the art is supporting the artist, and at least buy a shirt.