Nury Martinez is no longer a moniker

Op-Ed: Nury Martinez says out loud the racism and colorism my vibrant Oaxacan community endures

At the height of her talent, Nury Martinez was known as Nuevo Oaxaca, and on the evening of Aug. 2, 2012, a friend saw her on stage at the Guadalajara International Arts Festival while seated with co-headliners Jorge Negrete and Los Olvidados.

For an audience as appreciative of this multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter as her, it was a moment to remember. They gave her a standing ovation. She was awarded the festival’s Best Solo Performance award.

Nury Martinez

In less than a year, Nuevo Oaxaca became Nury Martinez.

She was 18 then, and she has never, ever given up on her hopes to be taken seriously in the music world.

At the time, she was singing about the struggles of a girl in a small Mexican town, and the idea for her second EP, which came out in March, came from that.

“It’s really hard,” she said in an interview with me during our second meeting in the summer of 2015. “It’s not just the struggles — it’s just about finding something to say.”

But that struggle is no longer being felt by a person in her community.

Nury Martinez

Nury Martinez and Jorge Negrete

“Nuevo Oaxaca” is no longer a moniker. At age 23, after moving to the Washington, D.C., area to study computer science at the University of Maryland, she stopped by a small, local record shop and asked them “Do you have any albums out called Nuevo Oaxaca yet?”

“No,” they said.

“I don’t want to make it difficult for you, but I’m moving to the United States and I’m just moving across the country because I’m going to graduate school,” she told the young employee.

They did not have to tell this young woman she could not move from her home in the tiny village of Oaxacan to the United States, and she never got a chance to hear this message.

Nury Martinez

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