This is an open letter to Mayor Alan Webber:
I am writing this letter to give you a lesson in New Mexico history. Your actions to remove certain statues that represented the Spanish race is despicable. Your liberal view has now tainted your ability to be objective and listen to both sides of history. Your actions have created a division in a city that once represented many cultures living as one.
I am a fifth generation Santa Fean of Spanish descent. I am a highly educated woman of color, a devout Catholic who is proud to be Hispanic. I come from a large Hispanic family with multiracial members including whites, Blacks, and Native Americans, and some of my best childhood friends were Native Americans. There was never any racial division between us.
In 1964 my father portrayed Don Diego de Vargas during the Fiesta de Santa Fe. During this time, the Fiesta de Santa Fe was a celebration in which both Native Americans and Hispanics came together to commemorate peace between the two groups. I will not apologize for my father’s portrayal of Don Diego de Vargas and am honored he was chosen for the role.
It surprises me how many people use the word racism so loosely. Mr. Webber, you, along with most people, have probably never been discriminated (against) based on the color of their skin or surname. I, on the other hand, have faced many situations of discrimination because of my skin color and ethnicity. Just last year, my family had to experience the worst type of racism firsthand when a white supremacist brutally killed my aunt in the El Paso Walmart massacre because of her race.
I am so disappointed in many Hispanic people turning a blind eye on history because of political correctness, including Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, our past mayor Javier Gonzales and past princess Jessica Eva Montoya. Don’t they remember participating in the pageantry of the Fiesta de Santa Fe or celebrating fiestas at the Plaza?
You sir, however, have no right to come to my city and think you know what’s best for the people of Santa Fe. You don’t represent Santa Fe because if you did, you would have asked for public opinions and had open meetings about removing statues that represented the past of many Spanish families in Santa Fe. Don’t think that your Anglo ways or money grants you permission to destroy years of history. Don’t forget you’re a transplant from another state. Shame on you for adopting my Spanish traditions, my food, my language but trying to erase my heritage. You’re a hypocrite.
Don’t you recall speaking at the 2018 Fiestas de Santa Fe proclamation ceremony calling for unity? You stated, “We acknowledge the past and its trauma, tragedy, and sorrow; we understand its legacy in the present. We acknowledge wounds older and deeper than any on this continent … On behalf of those from the past who cannot ask forgiveness, we do so now.”
Were those just words, or are you succumbing to the pressure of the media, the Black Lives Matter movement, or are you feeling guilty for being white and that you have to try to change history to ease your guilt?
I am angry, and now is the time for Hispanos de Santa Fe to stand up and protect our heritage. I have sat back and listened for years to how only the Native Americans were mistreated and tortured without mention of what the Natives did to the Spaniards during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 led by Popé, a medicine man from San Juan Pueblo. My people, my ancestors, were murdered during the uprising against the Spanish colonizers in the province of Santa Fe. The Pueblo Revolt killed 400 Spaniards. This included men, women and even children, along with 21 friars.
Popé destroyed all the vestiges of my Catholic religion and drove the remaining 2,000 settlers out of Santa Fe, and yet not one leader has bothered to study New Mexico history before making a desperate decision to remove historical statues and change history. This move is solely for political gain.
I want to make it clear to you that I don’t support the violence that happened during this time, but removing a statue is not going to erase history. Mr. Webber, first educate yourself about New Mexico before succumbing to political pressure to destroy my city. You again once stated, “At this difficult and divided moment in our country, too many communities are choosing a different path, embracing anger, rancor, racism, and hate: here in Santa Fe we are choosing peace, reconciliation, respect, and unity.”
Words don’t mean anything unless you demonstrate action with them. You have betrayed this city, and because of your lack of actions, you are destroying a city that once was united.
Karla Moya-Crites lives in Santa Fe and works as a nurse practitioner.