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Marina Lopez Antonio


Oaxaca, Mexico

I take care of myself, and in doing so, take care of my family.

In my culture, it’s not accepted or normal to go against the wishes of one’s parents. I belong to a small, indigenous community in the Oaxaca region of southern Mexico. We’ve lived here for centuries, and our family has been weaving cotton belts for as long as anyone can remember.

When I was little, I had a lot of work to do. My father was sick and we were poor, so my sister and I would get up extra early every morning to prepare food for the family. After school, we’d rush home to weave or to help in the fields.

On weekends, I’d go to the village market to sell our handicrafts. Every time I sold something, it was a relief for our family; we’d have an extra 200 pesos, which meant food for the next few days.

When I was a teenager, I wanted to study to become a secretary. By working in an office I would be able to earn more money, which would be good for my family. I knew I was smart and that I would do a good job, but my parents refused to let me study. Out of solidarity for my family, I respected their wishes.

Years later, some students from California came to our village. They were organizing an educational workshop for local artisans. We would learn about new color methods, weaving techniques and have the opportunity to network. Of course I wanted to take part, but my parents again said no.

I have wonderful, generous parents. Even when our family could barely afford food, they would always welcome guests with coffee and tortillas. I know they refused me their permission because they wanted the best for me. They were concerned about me being away from home. I knew that they were worried as all parents worry. But I also knew that they were wrong. Going to this workshop would be good for our entire family. I would learn and be able to earn more money, and our family business would grow. I put my foot down and decided to go.

Despite the drama that it caused, I knew that defying my parents was actually a way to take care of their needs as well as my own. The workshop was wonderful. I learned a lot. I brought new techniques home to my family and met important contacts that have helped our business expand.

I no longer live with my family, but I work with them every day. Today, I live with the man who will be my husband if he can prove himself. Much like defying the wishes of one’s parents, this living arrangement is also not normal, but I have learned to listen to myself and to do the things that are important to me. My family has learned that too. I take care of myself, and in doing so, take care of my family.

Marina Lopez Antonio is a weaver whose work is featured on GlobeIn.