José Antonio Aguilar Contreras graduated from The Essex MBA in 2015. Already an established LGBT rights activist and magazine publisher in his native Mexico, after completing his MBA Jose set his sights on tackling racism in his homeland. 

In September 2021 José was selected as Echoing Green Fellow 2021 in the area of racial equity. We caught up with Jose to find out more about his RacismoMX project.

A headshot of José Antonio Aguilar Contreras, MBA graduate.

Congratulations on being awarded Echoing Green Fellow! What was your reaction to the award?

I felt very happy and proud at being selected as Echoing Green Fellow 2021 in the area of racial equality. I felt that all the effort I had made in the past (that I never expected to be rewarded for) was finally worth it. I have never won anything even close to this in the past, so it was a real milestone in my life. 

I almost didn’t find out that I had been honoured with the award! One day I received the phone call, but I was delivering a workshop so I could not. I saw that it was a number from Echoing Green (EG), so after I finished the workshop, I returned the phone call and they gave me the good news. I was so full of joy. Being part of EG means that you learn from people who are leaders in their areas. You learn about their good practices and I have learned more innovative ways to fight systemic racism in it’s own context, as well as new strategies to tackle it. As EG fellows we are inspired by great people including US former First Lady Michelle Obama. EG helps its fellows to connect with relevant people so it is boosting the work that we do at RacismoMX. 

Tell us about RacismoMX?

RacismoMX started as an initiative in 2018 to offer information about racism in Mexico for young people through social media and its webpage. 

With time, we evolved to become a registered non-profit organisation whose mission includes: 

  1. To develop educational programs for people and organisations (mainly corporations) on how to have an antiracist approach;

  2. To launch media campaigns, mainly online, to increase racial literacy and antiracist thinking (which has been hidden in Mexican history);

  3. To develop research projects to generate data and more information about how does racism work in Mexican society and how to tackle it. To do this, we have made alliances with international NGOs and governmental offices. 

What do you have planned for the future of RacismoMX?

Although racism is embedded in the Mexican society, for many years we were told that since we are a “mixed-race country”, there was no space for racism. 

Thanks to recent studies, nowadays we know that this is not true. It is my plan that RacismoMX becomes the leading antiracist organisation in Mexico, one that helps the country to comply with all the international standards to fight against racism (currently, Mexico has not complied with many United Nations standards). 

I plan to do this through impact in law reforms and judicial cases, through strategic litigation before national and international courts. In the process, I plan to keep on putting the topic on the media and the national conversation.

Can you tell us about your experience of The Essex MBA? How did it help you get to where you are today?

I has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I had many endeavours that made me wanted to learn formally about the concepts and practices of management in the corporate world.

I chose to study at Essex because I felt the approach of The Essex MBA to be very humanistic and liberal. I enjoyed that I was able to balance a focus on human rights and sustainability without leaving the more difficult areas of business (for me) like finance or mathematics behind. The international community was also key for me in choosing Essex.

My MBA gave me confidence to operate in an international setting and helped me to understand different cultures. It also helped me understand the importance of creativity as part of the business mind.

The Essex MBA was crucial to me laying the groundwork to found RacismoMX. I was able to reflect on my past entrepreneurial experiences and learn a lot of new concepts and it gave me the time to think about my real desires, which was the main engines which propelled me towards start a new endeavour.

What do you have planned for your own future?

Thanks to RacismoMX, my voice has begun to be heard. I plan to keep on working on RacismoMX and help it grow, but I would also like to collaborate with other important media outlets and projects. For instance, I am developing the first documentary about racism in Mexico with the help of the Ford Foundation. Also, I would like to write a book about antiracism and keep growing as an opinion leader.