Jon Ayon is a Mestizx (Comcáac/Pipil/Xicano/Salvadoreño) filmmaker from LA. He began his career directing music videos for punk & indie bands in the Pacific Northwest. In 2011, he made Oakland home and earned a B.A. from San Francisco State University’s School of Cinema and an MFA in Documentary from Stanford University. His work has earned him awards and recognition from Francis Ford and Roman Coppola, The Annenberg Foundation, SFFILM, NewFilmmakers LA, the Points North Institute, the International Documentary Association, Full Frame and Sundance. Ayon’s films highlight issues pertaining to the Latinx Diaspora such as Indigeneity, colonialism, & generational trauma.
Filmmaker’s disclaimer on the use of the word Mestizx:
Like Mulatto the term Mestizo comes from colonial efforts to segregate and can be seen or heard as a dirty word meaning biracial or mixed-race. In the 20th century, there was a neoliberal effort by Latin American countries to reinvent the use of the word Mestizo as part of a multiculturalist campaign to erase individual Indigeneity and whitewash the history of state-sponsored genocide of Indigenous communities throughout Latin-America. This multiculturalism was an attempt to hammer the final nail in the coffin of Indigenous erasure through assimilation and migration and it was called “el mestizaje.” When I first began reclaiming the term Mestizo, I employed it as a means to explain my brown skin and complexion to whites and non-Latinxs. I soon realized that this reason was influenced by a colonial perception (or misconception) of myself and my identity. In 2008, I began investigating—through family interviews, research, and traveling to meet tribal relations—my own heritage and ancestry. Since then, my use of the word Mestizo—and now, Mestizx—comes with a parenthetical (Comcáac/Pipil/Xicanx/Salvadoreñx), honoring each of the tribes and nationalities that make up my heritage and connecting myself and my work to my grandparents and great grandparents without making any claims towards actual tribal relations or kinship systems in communities I wasn’t raised in or a part of. The use of the word Mestizx and its accompanying parenthetical is a reminder that I am still separate and not part of these communities. I, like so many others, have been dislocated in several places from my ancestors. Because of genocide, rape, war, assimilation, poverty, classism, and immigration (all products of capitalism and colonization) I am their orphaned descendant. I cannot claim tribal affiliation I can only claim how this dislocation affects me and influences my work. Soy ni de aquí, ni de allá pero no soy invisible. I am Mestizx (Comca’ac/Pipil/Chicanx/Salvadoreñx).