Summer of Feminista: Strength in numbers vs. diversity: can we have both?

This week Summer of Feminista welcomes KJ Sanchez.
She is participating in the Yo Solo Festival
KJ is the founder/ CEO of American Records. 
She has produced national and international tours.

I’m in Chicago, preparing to open my play, Highway 47, as part of Teatro Vista and Collaboraction’s Yo Solo Festival, a festival Pan-Latina/o solo performances. As I’ve been watching my colleagues rehearse, the upcoming election has been much on my mind and one question has been nagging at me all week: How do we take advantage of increasing political leverage as the “Latino Vote” yet continue to make progress helping our fellow Americans – and our elected representatives – understand the diverse mosaic that is the Latina/o community?

Let’s look at the Yo Solo Festival as a microcosm of this issue: The festival has six performers, six VERY diverse shows. We are culturally diverse – we come from a wide range of cultures – Cuban, Mexican, Colombian, Dominican, just to name a few. Myself, I come from a crazy mash-up of Sephardic Jews and Pueblo Indians who settled in New Mexico in the early 1700’s and never left. As I explain in my show, “We never came to America, America came to us.” We (the Yo Solo Artists) are philosophically diverse as well - what we have in common is that each show is incredibly personal and comes from a vital issue in our own lives, but what that issue is and how we tackle it in our shows is very different. And last, all six shows are aesthetically diverse – from spoken-word dance, to direct address narrative, to hilarious and heartbreaking character study, to a landscape of poetry and imagery – it is remarkable how very unique each artist is.

And so it is with every Latino/Hispano/Chicano/Spanish speaker/non-Spanish-speaker/immigrant/non-immigrant/upper class/middle class/lower class/working class/intellectual/and any other “ism” individual in the US that would be lumped together as the “Latino Vote.” I have no answers here, but just one question to start the discussion:

How do we help our politicians understand that seeing us as a block, all with the same values and needs, is the worst kind of pandering and will, inevitably, be counter productive and how do we do this without loosing the most powerful tool we have: our strength in numbers?

Summer of Feminista 2012 is a project where Latinas are sharing their thoughts about Election 2012. Viewpoints can be liberal, moderate or conservative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.