International Women's Day

Our Stories, Our Dreams, Our Labor

Zully Juárez

Zully is a co-founder of La Comunidad Ixim, a social justice collective of Mayas in Los Angeles with origins in Guatemala. Through her work, she explores creating healthier communities both in South Central Los Angeles and in her homeland, Guatemala. 

Zully's family moved to South Central in the 1970s and has resided there for three generations. Zully loves South Central’s uniqueness and the diversity of the people who live there. Her family is indigenous Maya from Guatemala and part of the linguistic group Maya Kanjobal. At ten years old, she visited her family's homeland for the first time. She was struck by the beauty of the mountainous northwestern region of Guatemala. She saw how different her family's lively and beautiful rural hometown was from the industrial areas in the dense city of Los Angeles. This made her wonder how this difference impacted her and her family’s definition of home.

As an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, Zully focused her studies on indigenous communities. She researched the Indigenous Guatemalan people's perspectives on the power imbalance they faced while organizing against an internationally owned hydroelectric dam. After graduating, she worked at nonprofits and research entities until she decided to pursue her Master's in Urban and Regional planning. She sees urban planning as a tool that ensures cities and rural communities have access to parks, clean water, sustainable energy, and opportunities for small businesses.

La Comunidad Ixim is a grassroots collective that began as a safe space for indigenous Guatemalans to share family and culture. Many members are community organizers, teachers, and educators. They organically started planning events like movie screenings and community panels. They also created a children's coloring book, Colors of Guatemala: Las Aventuras de Gabby, a love letter to the people who grew up in the Maya diaspora in Los Angeles. The story focuses on a young girl named Gabby who migrates from Guatemala to the U.S. It follows the child as she navigates questions about herself and her identity. The book addresses heavy topics like war, migration, and genocide through illustrations. Zully's vision is to uplift Indigenous voices in the community which have been silenced by civil war, generational trauma, and assimilation to non-Indigenous Guatemalan and American culture. 

Zully is inspired by other women who have fought to open doors for women of color. She encourages other women to, "Stand strong in your identities; stand strong in your values.” She motivates other women to speak their truth and their stories. She appreciates women who provided her opportunities to learn as she knows how invaluable they have been for her personal growth. She encourages all women of color to open doors for others as doors have opened for them. 

Read more