Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

15 September 2014

Summer of Feminista - Latina Feminist Friendships [video]

Well we've turned on the heat at home, pumpkin spice products have hit the market and we have to wear socks again...this only means one thing, summer is over.

But before we put away the lawn lights (ahem...), let's take some time to view this amazing video that Kat Lazo, Patricia Valoy, Dior Vargas and Raquel Reichard took the time to make in response to my prompt to talk about how your girlfriends fit into your feminism.




Thank you mujeres for this video. It was moving, funny and sums up the summer perfectly. I'm not even going to attempt a summary post.

Thank you to everyone who participated this summer:
Linda Garcia Merchant
Vicky Barrios
Brenda Hernandez
Amy Richard
Lisa Quinones-Fontanez
Lilian Coral
April Lee
Elisa Batista
Sandra Ramos O’Briant
Estela Delgado


Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.

10 September 2014

Update on Space Camp!

A quick update...

1) I am all set! And we're now just one month away from me paying for the most expensive vomit ever. YES!!

2) While I only raised less than half of what I wanted to pay for this birthday gift, I am closing down my GoFundMe campaign for two reasons. The first was the fact that they will allow campaigns to support the police officer who killed Michael Brown, but secondly they think raising money for abortions is bad. So ok, make a case that raising money for an officer before he's found guilty shouldn't be a big deal..Seriously, I'll give you that. And even PayPal and all the credit card companies are making money off this tragedy (there's also a campaign to support Brown's family). OK, ok...but what really got me is that they wrote in no abortions in the GoFundMe "What's not allowed" page. And if you know me, you know I raise money for abortions a lot, so seriously, I can't give that platform anymore of my money...which is actually your money since they take a cut before I get my grubby hands on it. But you know what I mean.

Back to the trip...the only question remaining is this: Do I pay for the jumpsuit or not?

18 August 2014

Book Review: Encyclopedia of Goddesses & Heroines by Patricia Monaghan

The Encyclopedia of Goddesses & Heroines by Patricia Monaghan is a beautiful addition to any home library.

Monaghan sets out a geographical encyclopedia which allows for anyone to find their goddess or heroine based on where they hail from. I am fairly certain this is the book I used early on in my goddess studies to attempt to create a personal global pantheon. The entries are fairly short, except as you might expect for the Virgin Mary, thus make an excellent starting point for any budding goddess scholar.

Since it is an encyclopedia I did not read this cover to cover. I did though enjoy the entries for the Virgin Mary, Mary of Magdelan, and the MesoAmerican pantheon. Monaghan states that goddess studies is less intense for this pantheon due to the human sacrifice aspect. I can see that. I know when I tried to dive myself into it during college, it was a contradiction that I had a hard time dealing with.

Monaghan may have died in 2012, but left she us an amazing resource.

Patricia Monaghan (1946–2012) was a pioneer in the contemporary women’s spirituality movement and published numerous books on the topic for more than 30 years, including Goddess Paths and The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog. Before retirement, she was an associate professor of interdisciplinary studies at DePaul University in Chicago, and also served as senior fellow at the Black Earth Institute in Wisconsin. She was a poet as well as a scholar, and was awarded the Pushcart Prize in literature and the Paul Gruchow Award for Nature Writing.

Support Viva la Feminista by purchasing your book through Powells or Indiebound.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher.  

16 August 2014

Summer of Feminista: Four Friends


Today Summer of Feminista is proud to welcome back, Linda Garcia Merchant. Linda Garcia Merchant, an award-winning filmmaker and Independent scholar, is technical director of the Chicana Por Mi Raza Project, a community partner for the Somos Latinas Oral History Project and the Chicana Chicago/MABPW Collection Project, a member of the LGBT Giving Council of the Chicago Foundation for Women and a board member of the Chicago Area Women's History Council. Watch the trailer for Linda's latest production 'Yo Soy Eva' , being released this fall.

Every year for the past thirty years I get together for a weekend with three women I have been friends with since college. We make it a point each year to get together at one of our homes, catch up and hang out. I first wrote about this weekend fifteen years ago for my own blog site, twotightshoes. At that point it had been fifteen years of getting together; our children were small or teens and not all of us were divorced or orphaned.

At fifteen years there was enough measure of time, change and difference that had occurred that made writing about this important. Important not just to me, but to newer friends I would tell about our weekends.

I never thought it was a big deal to have this weekend, but when I would tell people we did this, they found it fascinating that we had kept doing it. Our careers and relationships had managed to move us to different parts of the state or the country. Our lives should have drifted apart but we managed to stay in touch, to stay together, to show up every year. Why is that?

It is because we love each other like sisters. It is because we have always accepted one other at face value. We have never been judgmental about our shared experiences, personal events or choices. We trust each other; love and respect our friendships. It is hard to find a single person this genuinely motivated to care and give so it is incredible to have found three other women that think this way.
Like sisters, we call each other for the holidays, on (or around) birthdays or in preparation for our annual get together. We don’t spend time as a group, except for that one specific weekend each year. When we do get together, it is as though we haven’t missed a step in each other’s lives.

We didn’t start out agreeing to do this. In fact, every year it is me grousing about my awful schedule and how problematic this next year would be. The more I would complain the less I was heard. Every year at some point in our conference call, my grumblings would become ‘brown noise’, I would give in and get with the plan.

At first, it was at the insistence of one woman, Michele that we make it a point to check in with her in Peoria at least once a year. We all live in different cities; I’m in Chicago, Glenda is in Davenport, Michele is in Peoria and then there’s Trish who we all believe lives on the path of one of the four winds.

Trish has always lived her life on the wind. Even in college Trish followed her own path, separate and apart from the teenage fold. My favorite Trish memory from college was the first time I walked into her dorm room, decorated in what I can only describe as a Stepfordian White French Provincial motif. Missing were the bunkbeds, bolsters and Prince posters. In their place, Trish had knick knacks, fresh flowers and a white wrought iron table and chairs for two with matching tapered candles. I imagined her studying at that table, sipping tea. Trish was and is from another time and I believe, just enjoys our company when she lands in our weekend space. Trish doesn’t always make the weekends, but when she is there, the circle is complete.

Our relationship over the last thirty years has changed as our lives changed. Where once we would get together for weddings and showers, now we gather for the funerals of parents and contemporaries.

In the late seventies early eighties (when we were all young, childless and single) the conversations were exclusively about sex, shoes, boys, shopping for shoes, romance, dating, more sex, bad boys and bad dates. At some point on a Saturday night, we were headed to the nightclubs be it small town or big city. One of us was always lagging (usually Glenda), not wanting to go—the other three of us dragging her along.

The late eighties and early nineties saw our conversations switching to health plans, mortgage interest rates, bad boys, shopping for shoes and furniture, cooking at home, and renting movies with Denzel Washington in them. We seldom went to bars, preferring the cost ratio (to degrees of sobriety) of the home-based mixed drink. At one point we were all married so our spouses were included in some of our weekends.

The end of the nineties and the turn of the century came and went and our conversations turned to health plans, flossing, osteoporosis, boys pretending to be men, challenging partnerships that involved children and ailing parents. Our social forays included at least one conversation reintroducing Glenda and I to the world of popular black culture that always ended with a trip to the local record store. Friday nights were spent doing home mani/pedis and elaborate dinner preparations, then switching between the food network and HGTV. Three of us were divorced so Saturday nights, we still went out.

In 2014, we did something a little different and shared our weekend with one of our children, Michelle’s daughter, Taryn Dior, an adult now, working and living on her own in St. Louis. These days there are quiet moments more than anything. All four of us have been married and divorced. We all have children, one a grandchild, one a mother of three, one with a masters degree, one a teenager and two in college.

We still catch up with each other’s lives, the lives of our children and share photos and stories of their lives. Each year one of us in the middle of some great trauma, usually elder or child care issues. All of us have cared for elder parents, nursing them through a variety of debilitating and ultimately, terminal illnesses. Whatever the situation, we are always there to listen and love and frequently hug the one of us struggling to answer the impossible questions that come with death.

Over the years, we will sit around the kitchen table, the patio table or the fancy restaurant table, catching up on the journals of each other’s lives. We learn things about our own childhoods, our siblings, our mothers and fathers. We give each other advice about houses, spouses, parents and God. God is always there in the middle of us—filling our mouths with the right words and sentiments that each of us needs to hear at the moment that we need to hear it.

To keep up with the people that ‘knew you when’ helps you to know the ‘you’ that you have become. It is sort of like not seeing the forest for the trees and being friends with three vigilant forest rangers. I like getting together with these women because being around them reminds me of what I have become, where I have been, and where I am going. As four friends, we are the most honest and vocal guides to each other’s lives steering each other back to our own truths.

If in a year I have altered my course, compromised my direction or lost site entirely of some personal focus, I will know this. I will know five minutes after I've walked in the door of wherever we are meeting. I will know when one of them hugs me and I don’t hug them back as hard as I should. I will know this because I will look long and hard into a pair of eyes that has seen me at my personal best and worst and that I will not be able to deceive. Friends that will check that ‘faux’ hug with some snappy retort squishing that pretentious moment, then hugging me harder until I hug back just as hard. There are no secrets from old friends; no hidden agendas or realities those old friends miss.

So there is the beauty of having three close friends for over thirty years who make it a point to glue themselves together, once a year, for at least 48 fun and loving hours. I am hoping that by reading this, you will pick up the phone and reconnect with those that you knew and loved 5, 25 or 50 years ago. Those who care about, and know, the real you. The ‘you’ that existed before the world compromised you. The friends that knew you when you still cared about tolerance and understanding.

If you’ve never gathered with your oldest friends, do it. Make it a point to connect with those people that know you best. This year in St. Louis we kept it simple. We caught the James Brown movie, looked at apartments for Taryn, visited the Arch, put up with my ranting about the ‘Westward Ho’ exhibit at the Gateway Arch, enjoyed a decent meal and some R&B at the Rustic Goat then spent half the night talking, catching up and watching the Game Show Network. Every minute of this last weekend has filled my soul and will hold me together for the next 363 days until we meet again.



Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.

15 August 2014

Review: Order Out of Chaos Academic Planner

Sadly, yes, it is back to school time. And I'm sharing you one of the keys to Ella's success last year...The Order Out of Chaos Academic Planner.

I was sent this at the start of last school year and had Ella use it to track her homework, assignments and her afterschool activities. I sat her down and talked her through the different ways to organize her life. We had used assignment books in the past, even one year just using a blank notebook with assignments on each page. And while she's been a straight-A student throughout school, I knew that fifth grade was going to be tougher than fourth grade. Not just because it was the next grade, but she was starting travel soccer (two practices a week) and dance class (2 afternoons a week) to her weekly main soccer team practice. Our method for juggling soccer and dance was to skip one each week - which you can tell immediately became confusing. Thus her writing what days were soccer and which were dance in her assignment book. Of course the photo above does not show this. Sorry.

But what you can see is that the segmentation of the day by class was helpful in her tracking not only daily assignments, but long term projects. Fifth grade was also the second year where we let Ella keep track of her homework herself. We did not check her assignment book every night. When she would forget her assignment book, she was responsible for calling or messaging her friends for what she forgot. We were not making those calls to parents. Last year was her training ground for this year.

This year she starts middle school and I will be purchasing a new planner for her. She is familiar with the system and with the fact that she will be changing classes for each subject, she will need a good system to keep track of everything.

Bottom line...I highly recommend this organization system. It looks like a system that might be best for college students, but my elementary school student was helped by it a lot.

Disclaimer: I received Ella's copy of the planner for review. Nothing else was exchanged.

14 August 2014

Guest Post: Reflections on Anita Hill, Twenty-Three Years Later

VLF welcomes Lauren Miller's guest post about a recent viewing of "Anita: Speaking Truth to Power."Lauren is a Chicago-based womanist impassioned about all things related to holistic wellness for marginalized women. As Engagement Coordinator at Women Employed, she energizes young professional women online, and offline, to promote practices and policies that support real change for America’s working women.


“I was raised to do what is right. And can now explain to my students, first hand, that despite the high cost which may be involved, it is worth having the truth emerge,” asserts Anita Hill in 1991 to a crowd of familiar faces in Oklahoma.

This moment, and the power of those words, were experienced yet again to a sold-out crowd of professionally diverse women of all ages during an event hosted by Women Employed on August 5th. The eyes of Chicagoland’s foremost women lawyers, political leaders, and advocates of Women Employed were transfixed on the screen displaying one of Chicago’s only screenings of Anita: Speaking Truth to Power. The film highlights the important narrative from twenty-three years ago when one woman’s raw testimony, broadcast in the international spotlight, emboldened millions of women to tell the truth and ushered in major changes in sexual harassment policy and female representation in politics. Anita Hill's 1991 testimony before the Senate judiciary committee, in which she accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, sent shock waves through every office in America and brought the important issue into the open.

This new documentary, directed by Academy-award winning filmmaker Freida Mock, illuminates the disgrace of America’s political leaders’ inability to authentically listen to and engage with sexual harassment. An experience now more widely acknowledged within our contemporary moment, progressive women have always recognized sexual harassment as stitched in the very fabric of what it means to exist as a woman in a patriarchal society. From cat calls and street harassment to the prevalent male gaze and more strange, graphic, and lewd sexual violence, we’re no strangers to sexual harassment. Sure, we can examine the statistics, but talking directly with our mothers, sisters, and girlfriends provides more visceral stories that empower many of us to speak out and act.

However, as Anita: Speaking Truth to Power reminds us, the truth is not easily digested by those unwilling to engage with it—those socialized firmly within a patriarchy that promises, among other things, to allow an otherwise rightfully deserving man to continue toward the prize he has earned. When Anita spoke out, many questioned, “Why could she not simply keep her mouth shut like she had done for so many years?”. One patronizing query from a member of the judiciary committee was, “Why in God’s name” would you ever speak to him again, Anita? This is wounding to listen to.

As Hill reflects in the film, twenty-two years after the hearings, “[t]he more I understood about sexual harassment, the more I understood that it was only part of the problem. Sexual harassment is just part of a larger issue of gender inequality.” Blaming the victim is an archaic sexist remedy with “dealing” with sexual harassment —putting a band-aid over a festering, infected wound that hasn’t been treated or even looked at truthfully and with compassion. If every woman were to not speak to or engage with her perpetrator, society would indeed look dramatically different—it would be far more quiet.

And, their silence would do what, exactly? It would neither create healing nor effectively “shame” the perpetrator into feminist, equitable actions—a responsibility that is not just on women, and shouldn’t be.

What Hill encourages us to do with these words is examine the larger issue. Her story invites us to interrogate gender inequality and the particular nuances of being both female and black. In the film, years later, reflecting on the sensationalized trial, Anita mentions that “[i]t was really the combination of my race and my gender and it changed the dynamics.”

In the face of a decisive and divisive panel of all white, all male political leaders, Anita remained steadfast. She spoke the opening words of this blog post within days of her testimony against then-Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas. As she speaks them, the calm yet strong Anita appears extraordinarily self-assured—something notable for a woman who faced, head on, the politics of Washington and all of the messy, and messed-up, dynamics related to being both woman and black. That Thomas was already hand-picked by George Bush, Sr. to be the next conservative Supreme Court justice and that, for that administration, he would also be the justice of color, albeit token, mattered. That Thomas recognized the elephant (read: blackness) in the post-Civil Rights era room and, after Hill’s detailed testimony with several witnesses who spoke additional truth to power, intentionally chose to victimize himself as casualty of “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks” mattered. Thomas understood the weight of that statement in planting fear in the minds of the panel who would rather avoid “racist” label in the early ‘90s. That the panel of deciders was all white and all male matters. All of this matters.

And what matters for us–what we must keep in perspective about this story’s relevance for us today—is that this story illuminates institutionalized dynamics of race, power, sex, and control in the United States. It’s dangerously easy for us to look at this narrative in isolation. It’s easy for us to demonize a man, especially a black man, for being hypersexual, degrading, and violent towards a woman. Yes, what Thomas did is unequivocally horrendous. That being said, it’s harder for us to critique everything surrounding this story: the nearly missed opportunity and near-refusal for a hearing; the sheer lack of preparedness of our politicians when listening to Hill’s experiences; the way that Hill quickly became the one “on trial;” the endemic nature of sexual harassment for a patriarchal society, and therefore the obvious nature of all that occurred within the hearings. That this turned into a spectacle is both disturbing and shameful, but it ultimately illuminated the prevalence of sexual harassment and racial and gender tensions within our nation’s very fabric.

13 August 2014

The Tragedy and Beauty of Mom Blogging

I've been blogging forever, well before Ella was a reality, when she was still just a glimmer in my eye. Before I became a "mom blogger," I was just a feminist blogger ranting about the world and George W. Bush's occupation of the White House. But as any woman who starts making friends in her mid-twenties quickly realizes, people start to have babies. And soon enough I did too.

The beauty of mom blogging is that it is a way for us to connect with other new moms, to share our joys and fears. When we find a mom blogger who has kids just a big older than our newborns, she becomes our big sister or super cool cousin, who can talk us down from our daily "I AM THE WORST MOM EVER!" ledge. That is who Dawn Friedman became to me. We met online when she was just embarking on the journey to add her daughter to her family. The fact she had a son who was maybe 6 or 7 at the time meant she knew how to survive the early days of the mamahood. And boy, did she ever come in handy.

Around the time Ella entered our lives, Madison entered Dawn's. I was nervous for the very open adoption the family was participating in. Last week Dawn shared a video of Madison rocking out on the drums. That tiny baby Dawn had brought home was dancing to her own beat. I then looked at Ella and realized she was too.

Then a few days ago, Noemi Martinez, aka Hermana Resist, someone I have known online about the same length of time I've known Dawn, posted that her youngest, Winter, wouldn't wake up. Shaking, calling her name, cold compresses...nothing was waking this beautiful creative girl. Today Noemi is holding vigil at Winter's bedside, still awaiting word on what happened to her girl. During this scary time, medical bills are piling up and there is a GoFundMe page to help the family out.

Mom blogging gets a lot of shit dumped on it. Here we are, moms who should be playing with our kids or making dinner, writing about the ups and downs of raising a small human being. But what I have consistently said is that we are creating our own communities. And with that, for some of us, extended families. Because this shit is hard and we need to vent sometimes! And yes, sometimes boast.

I cried with joy watching Madison on the drums. I've watched from afar as she has been growing up, read Dawn's writing on the challenges that open adoption does present, remembering that our girls both enjoy our squishy bellies, and being stunned that Dawn's son, Noah, is old enough to have a job.

Today my heart breaks at the pain that Noemi is going through awaiting her baby girl to wake up and life to go back to normal. I have enjoyed reading her Facebook updates on how Winter and her big brother, River, have been testing out the limits of teenage independence, how they have debates about Star Trek and Star Wars, and create zines together.

And there you have it. Blogging is not just a platform or a way to get your ideas out into the world, it is a means of connecting with people. With that connecting is the joy of births, marriages, new jobs, and simple happy days. But it also comes with the pain of deaths, divorces, depression (ours or our kids), failed journeys, and sickness.

At the end of the day, I do not see all the people who I have connected with my network, but parts of my family. Some more than others. And with that, their kids feel like nieces and nephews to me. So yes, my dear Noemi, she is our Winter. May she come home soon.

REMINDER: Noemi has a a GoFundMe page to help with the growing medical bills. Please give what you can.

12 August 2014

New Release from Demeter Press: Stay-at-Home Mothers: Dialogues and Debates


Demeter Press is pleased to announce the release of:


Edited by Elizabeth Reid Boyd and Gayle Letherby

July 2014 / $39.95 / ISBN 978-1-927335-44-4 / 6 x 9 / 322 pp.

***This collection is included in our 50% off sale until September 1st!
Please use coupon code MOTHER***

This book includes a remarkably diverse range of voices and perspectives on the under-researched topic of mothers electing to stay at home to care for their children or returning home after being in the paid workforce. As the first international collection of its kind, it explores with sensitivity and insight some of the deep cultural, personal and policy tensions around stay-at- home mothering. Elizabeth Reid Boyd and Gayle Letherby draw together contemporary social science research, media analyses and reflections on the lived experience of mothers. This book is distinguished by its openness, moving beyond familiar stereotypes and toward a different way of thinking about this important issue.
-Julie Stephens, College of Arts, Victoria University

This collection addresses an important sphere of debate about which everyone has an opinion and many have experience but rarely has it been the topic of thoughtful reflection and research. The conundrum of maternity in the present globalizing post- industrial neo-liberal world offers difficult dilemmas and often contradictory flows of emotion, ethics, and economics which impact us all. This volume goes some way to begin seriously addressing these quandaries, appealing to a range of subject positions and maternities.
-Alison Bartlet, Discipline Chair, Gender Studies, The University of Western Australia

Also...If you write a review of a Demeter Press book on GoodReads by August 7th, you will be entered a Demeter book of your choice.

Disclosure: I am getting a complementary membership to MIRCI and subscription to the journal in return for posting these updates. It is, however, something I would have agreed to do for free because I think their work is so wonderful.

08 August 2014

Review: Native Eyewear Sunglasses

Normally this time of the summer is when I've finally lost my new pair of sunglasses or perhaps the cute, but cheap pair, finally broke on me. However this summer I've been sporting a pair of Native Eyewear sun glasses. In fact I've been wearing a pair of their Roan glasses. I picked them out as they look like a pair I would get for myself and they fit me fabulously. They are new for 2014 and includes Native's new N3 lenses, they say they are the most innovative and advanced polarized lens on the market.

N3™ lenses:
• Pass Z87.1 impact resistance testing
• Feature up to 40 percent IR reduction
• Protect from all UV rays up to 400nm
• Offer state-of-the-art blue light filtering

I can definitely vouch for the blue light filtering. It's a give and take feature of the glasses. They really make the world crisper and in such a way that I sometimes even wear them in the one tunnel I drive in. Somehow these glasses block the sun that makes me squint, but without actually making the world dark. WEIRD!

If you have been following my #365FeministSelfie project, you've most likely spotted these glasses most of the year.

OK, I know the price tag on these babies is high. Normally I wouldn't even consider them myself because I sooo often lose my glasses. But I love these so much that I'm doing a better than average job at keeping track of them. *knock on wood*  So if you want to invest in a great pair of glasses, I would suggest you looking into these babies. Let me know!

Disclaimer: I was offered this product for review at the start of the year and I've spent the last six months testing them out. Other than the product, nothing else was exchanged for this review.

07 August 2014

Summer of Feminista: A BFF for All Seasons

Today Summer of Feminista welcomes Vicky Barrios of Kindness and Kisses. You can also find her on Instagram where you can see she's passionate about soccer!

When it comes to feminism, I don't try to do feminism in any prescribed way. I do attempt to embody feminism, specifically womanism.  All my very best friends are amazing women of color and I don't think that's an accident. Still, I believe in respecting the abilities and talents of all women as well as acknowledging their contributions to the community and to our world. That's exactly how my girlfriends fit into my life. We may not be outright feminists but we are women who not only believe in each other, but actively offer each other our individual strengths as support and for actionable inspiration. Whether by karma, divine order, or chance, I have been abundantly blessed with the love, generosity, and depth of authentic sisterhood friendships.  These are real deal have-your-back best friends forever. My life is better because of these BFFs that are powerful mirrors of who I was, who I am, and who I can be.

Fortunately, I am rich with good friends, and a handful are my BFFs. For all parts of my life, I have a BFF that I can count on. I am the single Latina, woman of color, PhD student and clinician that is in her mid 30's and happily single and dating. The single girl in NYC part of my life is best shared with my other single girlees. My long time best friends with husbands or wives and babies just won't be able to pick up and go as we used to, and as it is possible for me to still do. I love my BFF, Sandra for trying though, even with two little ones. My BFFS who don't have children and with whom I get together for cocktails and to talk sex among other things, like Sujeiry and Helen, are also the ones I can bother with random calls about dating mishaps and likely can drop by their home because face-time in person is necessary every now and then.  

In my academic circle of sisters, my BFFs, Isabelle and Tia, keep me accountable and moving on my research and other projects. They also help me celebrate each success with a little wine and good eats. Our conversations can be very intellectual, political, and almost always inherently feminist. We can also be silly, care-free, and irreverent. They have also seen me at my worst because attempting to complete a PhD program will do that. Because so much of my life is the work of the mind, it is a joy to have BFFs who can be there with me as we examine life's problems, seek solutions, and attempt to make a dent in the psychological community as a service to what we can offer the world. 

My world though is bigger than just academia and my love life. For this reason, there is nothing like the safety and security of a friendship that has been tested and survived seemingly improbable circumstances through a span of many years. My long-time BFF, Yana Alvarez (Financial Planning Goddess) is that person for me. We met at an event for high school students close to twenty year ago. Then we would meet again in college. Our time in college would cement our friendship.  She's "my person." At the core of our long-time friendship is the love and respect of allowing each other to be who we are and to commit to being able to face anything that could possibly come between us.
I am blessed many times over because not only do I have MY PERSON, but I have a troop of women who are also my BFFs. Is a BFF essential to have for today's Latina feminist? No, but a good girlfriend can make the journey that much better. For that reason, cultivating these friendships is a way to embody feminism. I have discovered that having women like my BFFs encourages me to reach for my personal goals, examine and find solutions for obstacles and to simply enjoy the spirit and power of the feminine.


Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.

06 August 2014

Quick Update on Space Camp

 I booked my weekend!

Enough friends have chipped in for my 40th birthday wish, that I just had to jump at registering for the 4-day experience in October. I'm so excited! I'm still far away from my goal, but today I'm taking my saving jar to the bank to see how much I have there. Doesn't sound like a lot, but my husband is a 5-star coin saver.

Thanks to everyone who has chipped in for this trip 30 years in the making!

04 August 2014

Summer of Feminista: Feminism and Friendship


Today Summer of Feminista welcomes, Brenda Hernandez. Brenda is a law school diversity professional. She is the Outreach Coordinator for Hollaback! Boston. She is also a Co-Director for The Boston Doula Project. You can read all about her feminism, pop culture musings, and her upcoming Latino Jewish feminist wedding at BoricuaFeminist.com.

I’ve always maintained small tight knit friend circles. I have my group from childhood, my college friends, and my law school friends. Usually these groups max out at about four people. These women have been my rocks. They’ve seen me through the great and most definitely the not so great. I have always valued strong female friendship and that resulted in an immediate connection to feminism. I recognized the importance of a sisterhood and to fight for the rights of those closest to me.

Some of my girls identify as feminists, but not all. This has never been a requirement of my friendship (laughing on the other hand is non-negotiable). In fact, until recently I never needed my feminist community to also be my friends. A common goal was enough to bring us together and I was fine with that. I would attend events alone or show up to volunteer, maybe chit chat a bit, and then go home.

That changed when I moved to Boston two years ago. Being new to Boston and a month from my 30th birthday I wasn’t sure how I was going to meet people. I decided that a good start would be attending feminist and women focused events. It was months before I could make this happen as I was consumed by my new job responsibilities and adjusting to cohabitation. When I finally attended my first event, I met someone who would later become one of my closest friends in Boston. Naturally we bonded over Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

And it didn’t stop there. As I immersed myself in the small but mighty Boston feminist community, I also began to build a girl gang like never before. This group of women is fearless. Our conversations slowly turned from the issues at hand to how we fit into the larger picture together. It became about more than just the cause but about us. The personal is political, after all. And what could be more important than helping your friends navigate through the patriarchy together. My friend circle is now much larger than it has ever been and sharing feminism makes it as tight knit as ever. And of course, lots of laughs.

Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.

03 August 2014

5th Annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice


Monday, August 4 to Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice is an initiative that elevates Latina leadership, power and activism to transform the cultural narrative via a collective call to action on critical reproductive justice issues facing our community.

Despite what the NYTimes thinks, reproductive justice is not a new term, rather one that comes from women of color organizing beyond the "pro-choice" box to ensure our work is not about one procedure, one action, but rather a holistic view of women's lives and how we make decisions about when, how, and why we become mothers or not.

To mark this week you can:
  • Organize an in-district visit with your elected officials
  • Host a rally, street action, community meeting or cafecito
  • Write a blog (VLF is open for guest posts!)
  • Mobilize using social media using the hashtags: #WOA14 and #RJrevolution
  • Contact Angy@latinainstitute.org to learn more ways to get involved and share what you are doing

28 July 2014

Summer of Feminista: Birthing a new world

Today Summer of Feminista welcomes one of my dearest friends, Amy, to the conversation...But anyone who knows Amy & me knows she is not Latina. So why am I letting her in? Just read her piece and I think you can agree that it is in the spirit of SoF.

I am not a Latina. This was something I wrote to the goddess that writes this blog and she wrote back a short email that said, “Yeah, I figured that out 13 years ago!” The fact is, I didn’t even think about that when I volunteered to write here on this blog. I think that is part of who I am. I met one of my BFF’s online through mama blogging. I knew what her name was, I figured she had another ethnicity than my own....but I didn’t even think about it...in fact, I was just pissed I couldn’t spell her last name. (At times I still can’t!) She ended up being an integral part of my life. So when she posted on her blog that she was running this summertime blog series, I volunteered....forgetting that one of the main components was that I share that Latina”ness”. I don’t...but hopefully you’ll read anyway.

I grew up in rural Maine. There wasn’t a lot of choices at the small school I went to for friends. I was the baby of the family to an older set of parents (most of my friends’ grandparents were friends with my parents.) I cried a lot. I lied a lot to get friends. By the time I got to middle school, I had moved up in the food chain to the bottom of the totem pole in the popular girls group. Popularity was built mostly around sports, clothing style and skinniness. I did not play a sport at the time, I wore what my parents let me wear (which most of the time was way out of date) and I was chubby. That put me at the bottom. My middle school years were scarring to say the least. I was teased yet “included” and sometimes, if I was lucky, I was invited over for parties or sleepovers.

As I entered high school, I got involved in sports. I became a 3 sport athlete with field hockey being my strongest one. I lost some weight. I gained some knowledge of style. I moved up in the rankings. Most of my friends liked me because I was the funny one. I was crass, I didn’t care if I offended anyone. I liked hanging with the guys mostly and because I wasn’t thought to be attractive they welcomed me into their fold, mostly for intel on the hot girls that I happened to be friends with. I continued through my high school career trying to prove myself to my friends. If I knew then what I knew now, I wouldn’t have bothered.

College came and went. I barely kept friends, mostly because I was obsessed with men and left a path of broken hearts (mostly mine) and had a slutty reputation. It's weird when I think about it now. But I hated women. I hated the way I always felt as if I was in competition with them and that I always seemed to LOSE that competition.

I got married, I had a child. I started blogging. I started to be introduced to people who didn’t really care about my past but who thought I had something to give to the future. My closest friends live the furthest away. I was separated by miles but felt closer to them than I ever had any of my younger life friends. It made me break down that wall that I had built up between myself and other women. I was encouraged by these new friends to express myself. I was never questioned when it came to my passion or even my own lack of feminism. I know what feminism means....I believe in equal opportunity for all....but I’ve never truly been labeled a feminist. The last time I went to see my friend Roni, I told her that I stood for all that she fought against. I was born white, I was the first to joke about women in my stand up routine, I wasn’t well-read in any sort of feminist theory, and I wasn’t always politically correct.... I said that to her and maybe a day later, she approached me about it. She said that the reason I meant so much to her was because I was ALL the things I was. That I wasn’t a yes person all the time. That I brought about ideas from the other side. She said she appreciated me because of this. She said we remained BFF’s because of this.

Anais Nin once wrote in her diary in the early 30’s that “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” I believe this to be true. My world could have been stunted by growing up in a rural town where shallowness was bred by more shallowness. Instead, I have developed friendships that will laugh forever because it is a mutual respect, a “new world” that we both bring to each other.

Don't let this post fool you, folks. She says she's crass, but I think you can see that it's just a show by one of the sweestest people I know. And I thought that before this lovely post. ~ veronica

Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.

26 July 2014

Apply today for the FOCUS black women in tech Fellows program

Did you know that there is a program to help support black women kick start their innovations?

The digitalundivided FOCUS Fellows program is an intensive weeklong program that has a impressive track record of success: Over 30 percent of the black female startup founders who participated in the program have raised at least $50,000 in venture or angel funding and 10% have raised more than a half of million dollars. In contrast, studies have found that less than one percent of startups backed by tech investors were founded by African-Americans.

The FOCUS Fellows program takes place in New York City from September 30-October 5 and coincides with FOCUS 2014, the world’s most diverse tech conference.

I got a chance to ask Darlene Gillard, Partnership Director, Community & Events for FOCUS, a few questions that a few of you might be thinking...

Q: What should I tell my girlfriend who I send this to, but responds with "I'm just not ready for this!"
A: You won’t know if you’re ready until you apply. Women entrepreneurs are notorious for wanting their businesses and ideas to be perfect before releasing them to the world. Tell your girlfriend to review the application and apply then let someone else decide if she’s ready.

Q: Will the FOCUS conference ever travel?  
A: digitalundivided is a national organization that hosts events and meetups around the country. FOCUS, however, will always remain on the east coast.

Q: What is your advice for a young woman who aspires to be a Fellow one-day?  
A: Think big! Create a business or product that people will pay for, not what you THINK they want. Be persistent, be nimble and most of all invest in yourself.

So get going on your application! They are due August 1st!