This All-Female Mariachi Group Won’t Let Trump And Threats Of Shootings Keep Them From Performing
A week after the El Paso, Texas shootings, there’s no denying that the Latino community at the border town and across the nation remains gripped by both grief, fear, and anger. Threats have been made against Wal-Marts across the country and at least one White Nationalist has traveled to El Paso to inspire further fear in migrants and Latinx folk. It only serves to further the trauma that El Paso natives are feeling and — in doing so — allows racists to win by compromising our way of life.
While it’s extremely understandable to give in to this fear, one group of mujeres are fighting to live on their own terms.
Mariachi Femenil Flores Mexicanas, a 14 member, all-female mariachi band, has declared that they will continue to perform despite the increased hate aimed at Latinx folk.
Despite their defiance, the group admits that they have felt vulnerable to attacks because of how visible the mariachi group is. Lilly Sanchez, the woman who has led the group since 2002, spoke with NBC NEWS about their situation.
“What is more Hispanic than wearing a mariachi outfit?” she asked. ”We certainly feel like we have a target on our back, but we still have to do our job, so we do our job.”
The mariachi group played for counter-protesters back in February when Donald Trump came to El Paso and held a rally for his border wall. During the El Paso Massacre memorial, another mariachi group named Puesta del Sol played a classic Juan Gabriel song; showing just how integrated mariachi is into the El Paso community.
Still, there’s no denying that their public personas draw a certain amount of attention that can expose them to violence and hate.
The fear is still very real and it resulted in one member quitting the mariachi group after the attack in El Paso.
“It’s still fresh, it’s very fresh,” Sanchez admitted in the interview with NBC. “We still pass by that Walmart every single day, several times a day, so it’s a reminder that it just happened, and yeah, we’re feeling afraid, we’re feeling targeted after this.”
Like many El Paso citizens, members of Mariachi Femenil Flores Mexicanas are finding it hard to return to normal life.
Violinist for Mariachi Femenil Flores Mexicanas, Karyme Perea, acknowledged to NBC NEWS that she finds it hard to leave her home following the attack. However, the musician says she draws strength from the people of El Paso and the fact that the man who attacked her community was an outsider. The alleged shooter is said to have driven eleven hours from the Dallas area to attack the border town.
“I also know that we still have to keep on going, and I trust the city,” Perea explained. “It was from someone on the outside. No one in the city would actually do that, and I put that trust back into the people and that’s what makes me go outside every single day.”
The band’s youngest member, high school student Regina Hernandez, has an extra layer of anxiety with school returning to session in the upcoming days. The guitarrón player shared her anxieties in the NBC NEWS interview.
“There’s times where I feel very nervous to even go to school because I don’t know what’s going to happen,” she admitted. “There’s times where we have to … go on with it, pretend like we’re still okay, we’re still strong enough to.”
Still, the group of strong mujeres know that they are a symbol of the Latinidad and need to be unified and reliable for their community.
Members of Mariachi Femenil Flores Mexicanas understand that they can’t allow fear to control them any longer than it already has. The people of El Paso need to be able to move on in their grief and in their lives. Only by living life to its fullest potential will survivors honor the 22 who are lost and condemn the man who tried to destroy their community.
“We’re not going to let him win and take away our security” Sanchez declared. “But if we stay home and we let this change our lives, his racism wins.”
Reactions to Mariachi Femenil Flores Mexicanas stance have been supportive and have included expressions of pride.
As this tweet suggests, mariachi music is just as American as country, rock and roll, and pop music. To attack an institution like mariachi is to attack not only Mexico but also the Southwestern United States where it is so popular.
This tweet declares support for these women, who make beautiful music in both times of celebration and sorrow.
There is nothing punishable about making music. Mariachi Femenil Flores Mexicanas and other mariachi groups should be supported and celebrated for continuing to show up for the Latinidad during this hard time. We hope these mujeres and all El Paso citizens get the help and support they need so they can continue to make the music that moves our communities.