In celebration of mujeres

adelita we can do it

M and I didn’t take part in the January 21st Women’s March. She was nursing a cold that rainy morning and had cheer sometime that day. I had mixed feelings about it. I was a student activist at Cal. I fought for tenure of professors of color, the expansion of Ethnic Studies, protested anti-POC investments and connections the University had made, and rallied against Prop 187 and then-Governor Pete Wilson. I took part in walkouts, marches and expressed my views via my writing and through discussions, and also participated in positive events like Raza Day. I believe in taking it to the streets but the pink pussy hats didn’t speak for me. I grapple with the idea of a monolithic unity. We are divided along lines of ethnicity, class, and life experience. Though I don’t often speak on it, I feel like a distinct sense of difference and otherness, particularly in my professional life more so than in my personal life. Those circles do not co-exist; they are very separate. While I do cultivate positive relationships with the women in my immediate work circle, there is room for growth.


Tee says it all


As I strive to foster strong connections with other women, I am modeling that commitment for my daughter. As I wrote in my blog,”Mothering a warrior,” I want to empower my daughter to be a chingona, una mujer poderosa y fuerte in the face of challenges. She’s growing up in a different time. She’s not held back by the cultural ideas that held me back.  I’m a lot more introverted and am less confident than my daughter. Many Latinas grapple with confidence issues which are rooted in cultural experiences. I was blessed I didn’t have a machista dad. I am blessed to have a badass for a mother. My daughter has the advantage of having a mujerista for her mom. Despite his quirks, Rambo loves that M is a powerful girl. Rambo and I have recently started watching Game of Thrones and we both have been impressed with the character Arya Stark. I’ve pointed out, “That’s your daughter” and he agrees. M is the daughter of a feminist and soldier. M is Wonder Woman. She is powerful. I love that she is growing up in a time when powerful women are celebrated. I am, however, conscious of the many ways sexism continues to pervade popular culture. I want my daughter to be aware of sexism and misogyny along with racism and white privilege. I want her to be active and not allow these realities to oppress her.

On International Women’s Day, I reflect on the importance and power of women. I honor my mother and my wonderful friends. I am surrounded by strength, beauty, grace, and integrity. I am a greater person because of the women I am related to and those I have chosen as my extended family. My daughter and I are blessed to have so many beautiful mujeres in our lives.


Friday with Frida

The postcards came from my college apartment to my house in their cheap Pier 1 Imports frames: a black and white photo of Frida, pretty and feminine, in her bedroom and a reprint of a self-portrait,    Frida with shorn hair, headstrong and masculine. Frida was todamujer and still is. Long before she graced every Mexican restaurant wall and was silkscreened onto hipster tees almost as many times as Che, she was one of my heroes, right up there with Wonder Woman, La Virgen, and Rosie the Riveter. When it came time to buy an art piece for my living room, I settled on a Santana album cover because by the late 90s, art by Frida had become ubiquitous. Still, once I knew I was carrying a little Xicana, I knew Frida would make her way into our lives again. 
M loves Frida. She loves Frida’s face even if she has yet to truly understand the images and symbols in her work. M likes flowers, bright colors, sacred hearts of Jesus, and being Mexican. She sees herself in Frida. So you can imagine how thrilled she was to be able to become Frida, if only for an evening.
I noticed the Maiz Frida 9.5 event on someone’s Facebook feed earlier this summer and knew we had to attend. My daughter deserves to explore Frida’s legacy in a way that doesn’t deserve a Kermit meme like this recent Vogue article does:

Vogue, I do believe that’s side-eye.
Located in the heart of San Jo, or Mexican Town as M dubbed it as we drove to the Mexican Heritage Plaza, the fundraiser raises money for Maiz San Jose’s work to combat domestic violence against Latinas. Two Ni Una Mas scholarships were given out so that Latinas might be able to pay rent, utilities, or use the funds in other ways to extricate themselves from dangerous situations. What better way to honor mujeres than to celebrate a mujer who truly made her mark on the world?
Altar for Frida
The evening included music, dance, poetry, and costume contests for children and adults.

 For dinner, we enjoyed chicken tacos from a taquiza and some fruta sprinkled with Tajin. Music was provided by DJ Sonido SJ Clash.  The silent auction featured various pieces of local art.
I had admired a bracelet on Facebook but ultimately came home with a handmade pillow. We also purchased raffle tickets and we won two tickets for the Children’s Discovery Museum. 
We were surrounded by families; no hipsters in sight!  We definitely look forward to next year.  Gracias Maiz San Jose!