Jon Ayon is a Mestizx (Comcáac/Opata/Pipil/Xicanx/Salvadoreñx) filmmaker from LA. He began his career directing music videos for punk & indie bands in the Pacific Northwest. In Oakland, he worked as a Camera Operator and Editor for KDOL-TV & graduated from San Francisco State University’s School of Cinema with honors. His work has earned him awards from The Annenberg Foundation, The Caucus for Producers, Writers, & Directors, The SF Emmys, and American Zoetrope. Currently, Ayon is an MFA candidate in the Documentary Film program at Stanford. He has worked as an editor on the films Hoodie, The Celine Archive, & Alice Street and as a writer for LOWER BOOM. Ayon’s films highlight issues pertaining to the Latinx Diaspora such as Indigeneity, colonialism, & generational trauma. He is a ride or die immigration activist and despises the word illegal.
Filmmaker’s disclaimer on the use of the word Mestizx:
Like Mulatto the term Mestizo comes from a colonizing desire to segregate and it 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 misperception of myself). In 2008, I journeyed to reconnect with one of the tribes who make up part of my heritage, the Comca’ac. I didn’t realize it then but that visit initiated what would soon become a lifelong reconnection journey. The joy and community that welcomed me showed me that naming the tribes that made up my “Mestizaje” brings honor to the many ancestors who have long been kept from my history, my identity, and my craft. Those great aunties and uncles and great grandparents were ripped away from me, their great- grandson and nephew, and I from them. Since then, my use of the word Mestizo—and now, Mestizx—comes with a parenthetical (Comcáac/Opata/Pipil/Xicanx/Salvadoreñx), honoring each of the tribes and nationalities that make up my heritage. My reconnection journey is imperfect. And in flux. It hasn’t come without its bumps and bruises. I’ve gone down several wrong paths and dead ends, but I’ve always doubled- and bounced- back. The use of the word Mestizx and its accompanying parenthetical is also a reminder that I am still separate and not part of these actual tribal 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. I am Mestizx (Comca’ac/Pipil/Opata/Chicanx/Salvadoreñx).