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Interview with Mito Reyes, Ayöök (Mixe) language activist

Photograph shared by Mito Reyes

In 2020, we continue our social media campaign by inviting different hosts to manage the @ActLenguas (Language Activism) Twitter account and share their experiences with the revitalization of and advocacy for native languages. This profile post is about Jaime López Reyes (@MitoReyes13) and what he plans to discuss during his week as a host.

Rising Voices (RV): Please tell us about yourself.

Me llamo Jaime López Reyes, pero en mi pueblo, Totontepec (Anyukojm) mixe, todos me conocen como Mito. Así soy más conocido, como Mito Reyes, y así firmo mis textos literarios. Me dedico a la investigación; actualmente hago un doctorado en literatura hispánica en el Colegio de San Luis, en San Luis Potosí, México. Me he dedicado a los estudios literarios y, particularmente, a la literatura mixe contemporánea. También he estudiado literaturas indígenas, pero con mayor enfoque en la crítica a los estudios en México sobre estas expresiones. Mi actual investigación trata cuestiones de racismo, desde concepciones teóricas, hasta su operación en un contexto mexicano histórico. También escribo, principalmente, ensayo literario, pero también narrativa.

My name is Jaime López Reyes, but in my town Totontepec (Anyukojm, in Mixe language), everyone knows me as Mito. This is also how I sign my literary texts, as Mito Reyes. I am involved in research, and I am currently pursuing  a doctorate degree in Hispanic literature at the Colegio de San Luis (the College of San Luis), in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. I have dedicated myself to literary studies, especially to contemporary Mixe literature. I have also studied indigenous literature, with a focus on their critical reviews in Mexico. My current research deals with issues of racism, from theoretical conceptions, to how it functions in a historical Mexican context. I also write literary and narrative essays.

RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?

Es una pregunta difícil de responder, pues la apreciación que se haga será relativa. Comparada con otras lenguas indígenas en México, podría decirse que buena, incluso punta de lanza en muchos aspectos. Pero en una vista más panorámica, compartimos la misma situación: se usa poco y, sobre todo, está poco socializada, es decir que existen proyectos e iniciativas numerosas y de gran valor, pero llegan a un bajo porcentaje de la población mixe. Quizá en Facebook es en donde haya mayor presencia, acaso por su alcance y la facilidad de su uso, pues casi todas las comunidades mixes tienen una cuenta y suben contenido en nuestra lengua.

It is a difficult question to answer. If I compare it to other indigenous languages in Mexico, the status of my language is arguably good, even ahead in many ways. But in a more general view, we share the same situation: the language is poorly used, especially in a social context. This means that there are numerous projects and initiatives of great value, but they reach a low percentage of the Mixe population. Perhaps Facebook is where there is the greatest presence, possibly due to its large coverage and easy access, since almost all Mixe communities have a social media account and upload content in our language on this platform.

RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @ActLenguas Twitter account?

Quisiera enfocarme en tres aspectos: literatura mixe, tanto problematizaciones conceptuales al respecto como los resultados de mi investigación; racismo en México, sobre todo hacia la población indígena, pero también al interior de nuestras comunidades; y mi experiencia personal como ayöök jayu, y mi relación con el ayöök y con el castellano.

I would like to focus on three aspects: Mixe literature, both conceptual issues and the results of my research; racism in Mexico, especially towards the indigenous population, but also within our communities; and my personal experience as a ayöök jayu speaker, and my relationship with the ayöök language and with Spanish language.

RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism, and what are your hopes for your language?

No soy activista digital. Las motivaciones de mi trabajo son, creo, muy parecidas a las de los activistas digitales, a quienes respeto mucho: amor por mi pueblo y miedo por el panorama que enfrentamos, la desaparición de nuestra lengua, quizá no inminente, pero muy probable en un par de generaciones.

I am not a digital activist, but the motivations of my work are, I think, very similar to those of the digital activists, whom I respect a lot: love for my people and concern about the disappearance of our language, which is perhaps not imminent, but very likely in a couple of generations.

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