Above link: Read or listen to the story that spawned my question, covered by local public radio channel KPCC.
I suppose it’s a good measure to create awareness and perhaps stop bullying, but I’m not sure that banning these words can change the minds of the people that use them in an antagonistic fashion at all. I’ve personally heard these terms used in a form of endearment and jest amongst Oaxacans but know that, from a non-indigenous Mexican, they can be hurtful. It’s like the term “nigga” being re-appropriated by blacks in their effort to overcome the past years of inequality and the slavery before it that has scarred this country. In essence, the terms “nigger” or “negroe” were used in the same manner as “Oaxaquita” and “indito;” Americans of one ethnic background were bashing another group of Americans based on skin color.
In this case, it’s Mexican on Mexican antagonism based on the same notion of the non-indigenous group being ethnically “better.” However terrible for those that have been called any derogatory names, the problem will never be solved until there is a change in both countries’ societies. Can banning a few words, or any offensive word, do that? Not in my opinion, not to mention it conflicts with this country’s freedom of speech (note to readers: I don’t defend the use of any of these terms, but should they be banned according to the most vital foundations of the U.S.? ).
On another level, how are “white” people, (or non-Mexicans even) supposed to understand the significance of this measure without knowing the history of the caste system in Mexico? They’re not the ones who use it— the problem is among Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. The influx of both groups has caused an anti-slur campaign in a country outside of the origin of the very problem! Americans and Indians/Native-Americans have had considerable clashing, but because the Native populations were massacred then moved on to reservations, their fight has been quieter and mostly forgotten. The fact that there is such a strong Mexican influence in this country, and especially Southern California, is obviously why this is even a matter of interest in the first place.
Basically: General antagonism against all indigenous people has to be stopped before any group can stop being attacked based on their ethnicity and we’ll all probably be dead before that ever happens.