Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

30 July 2012

Review: Yo Solo Theater Festival of Latino Solo Shows


I attended Program A of the Yo Solo Theater Festival of Latino Solo Shows at the Flat Iron Arts Building on Sunday (Media day). The festival will be:
Featuring six solo pieces by Latino writers from Chicago and around the U.S. Yo Solo is an event that will display the breadth of talent and the rich complexity of each individual performer as they bring their own personal experiences to the stage, collectively creating a beautiful collage about the Latino experience. In addition to six solo performance pieces, visual art installations and live music will add to Yo Solo’s festival vibe.
The first performance was "La Risa de Dios" written and performed by Febronio Zatarain:
La Risa de Dios captures the voices and stories of the Latino immigrant community of Chicago and how they see our city. Through monologue and song, Mr. Zatarain captures the joy, the heartache, and the challenges of living in the big city and the dreams that bring us here.
He certainly captured the heartache of living in Chicago and the dreams that often die as if they touched the third rail of the El. "La Risa de Dios" was moving and poignant as Zatarain conveyed the stories of multiple characters.

The second performance was "Guera" written and performed by Lisandra Tena:
In the interactive solo, Guera, the audience is treated as dinner guests in a restaurant, choosing "meals" from the menu. Each item on the menu is a 4-6 minute piece drawn from Ms. Tena's experiences with her father, mother, alter ego, and her identity

This piece was not only smart, but funny. Tena portrays a server in a diner and the audience is handed a menu before she begins. The menu has six items and she asks the audience what they want to "eat." If you go and see one piece you want to watch, speak up quickly! Tena is pictured portraying, I believe, her father in El Mexicano. It is mostly silent until a young girl, "Mija," enters the room. And you might need a tissue for this one.

I'm not a big theater goer, so I feel a bit constrained as to what I proper theater reviewer would say. What I can say is that Yo Solo looks like a great festival and I look forward to attending for years to come.

Each program runs about two hours and will be presented eight times over the course of the festival. Tickets are $15 per program; $10 for students, industry and anyone under 30. Festival Passes offering admission to all three programs are also available for $35; $20 for students, industry and under 30. For tickets and information, go to yosolofestival.com or call 312.226.9633.

Remaining shows:

Thursday, August 2, 8 pm (Program B)
Friday, August 3, 8 pm (Program B)
Saturday, August 4, 4:30 pm (Program B); 8 pm (Program C)
Sunday, August 5, 4:30 pm (Program C); 8 pm (Program A)
Monday, August 6, 7 pm (Program C)
Thursday, August 9, 8 pm (Program A)
Friday, August 10, 8 pm (Program A)
Saturday, August 11, 1 pm (Program A); 4:30 pm (Program C); 8 pm (Program B)
Sunday, August 12, 1 pm (Program A); 4:30 pm (Program B); 8 pm (Program C)

Key:
Program A = La Risa de Dios by Febronio Zatarain + Guera by Lisandra Tena
Program B = Highway 47 by KJ Sanchez + para Graciela by Sandra Delgado
Program C = Empanada for a Dream by Juan Villa + Antipoda by Rey Andujar

Disclaimer: I did attend the performance on media day and received a media pass, plus entry for my husband.

CFP: Cinema and the Mother: Motherhood in Contemporary World Cinemas


CALL FOR PAPERS

Demeter Press
is seeking submissions for an edited collection
Cinema and the Mother: Motherhood in Contemporary World Cinemas
  
Editor: Dr. Asma Sayed  

DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTS: October 31, 2012!

Mother figure plays an essential role in cinema. Films have, by and large, presented a stereotypical role of a mother wherein she is hailed for her sacrifices and hated for having any personal desires. Representation of motherhood in world cinemas has either been framed within patriarchal norms or within nationalist discourses in which mother figure symbolizes the nation. Patriarchy glorifies motherhood, and cinema as an institution reflecting socio-cultural reality has tended to idealize motherhood; depending on the ethno-cultural paradigms, mother figure is presented either as angelic or demonic, thus prescribing a normative image. While cinema can and does impact the perceptions of its audiences, and thus has the power to make or break stereotypes, rarely have films experimented with the notion of motherhood; the resistant mother, although not unheard of, is a rare character.

This collection will provide an analysis of how motherhood has been represented in various filmic traditions. Papers dealing with any cultural tradition are welcome; however, preference may be given to non-Hollywood traditions. Understanding of motherhood both as an individual performance and as an institution has mostly been a post-1980s phenomenon; as such, the collection will focus on contemporary cinema.

Topics can also include (but are not limited to):
Close textual analysis of a film/films; analysis of depiction of motherhood in a particular filmic tradition - for example, Korean, Iranian, Indian, Greek, British, Canadian, Japanese, Chinese, Brazilian etc.; issues such as mise en scène, genre, cinematography, editing, etc. in light of portrayal of motherhood; angelic mothers, demonic mothers, sacrificial mothers, selfish mothers, resisting mothers, ideal mothers, etc.; cinema as mother; mother as cinema; and nation as mother, mother as nation - in cinema
 Submission Guidelines:

Abstracts: 300 words. Please include a 50-word biography 
(with citizenship information)

Deadline for abstracts is October 31, 2012
Please send submissions and inquiries directly to: 
Dr. Asma Sayed asayed@ualberta.ca

Completed manuscripts not exceeding 20 pages will be due May 2013, 
and should conform to MLA guidelines.

Acceptance is contingent and will depend upon the strength and fit of the final piece. 


Demeter Press
140 Holland St. West, PO 13022
Bradford, ON L3Z 2Y5 Tel: (905) 775-9089

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.

29 July 2012

Summer of Feminista is headed to Blogher '12

I'm taking Summer of Feminista to Blogher!

I am loving all the blogger badges, but here are the ones that fit me:

I'm Speaking at BlogHer '12Come talk to me at BlogHer '12I'll be tweeting at #BlogHer12

Due to the last minute decision, I'll only be at Blogher on Saturday. But don't let that stop you from stopping me and saying hi.

The reason for attending Blogher (other than to see friends) is to be on a panel about Latinas in elected office:
Event Date:
August 4, 2012 - 9:30am - 10:45am

The demography couldn’t be more clear: Latinas are the new power brokers, politically and economically. Elected officials and analysts of electoral politics speak about the rising influence of Latinas in elected office, what they uniquely bring to the political process, and the role of social media in their 21st century political leadership. This panel takes a close-up look at the roles some key Latinas are playing in shaping politics. Ana Roca Castro moderates a discussion with blogger Veronica Arreola, Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, NYC Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito, and NH Representative Marilinda Garcia.
Mujeres, as you can see, I'm the lone non-elected Latina on the panel. I'm there to bring Summer of Feminista to Blogher. So if you are Latina, I would love to hear your thoughts on Latinas in elected office.

* Do we need more Latinas in elected office? If so, why?
* Are there issues that Latinas are best at addressing?

25 July 2012

Summer of Feminista: Where is my money going?


This week Summer of Feminista welcomes Yvonne Condes. She is the Editor and Co-Founder of MomsLA.com, a community with more than 125 bloggers in Los Angeles. She is a Mom of 2 boys, former newspaper reporter, and occasional marathoner. Also find her at her personal blog YvonneInLA.com, on Twitter @YvonneInLA @MomsLA, and Facebook . She is PBS KIDS VIP and a member of PlayStation Family.

My son asked me a question during the last presidential election. He wanted to know why the Obama campaign was asking for money. I explained that it was how it was done; the candidates raised money to buy ads in the hopes that people will see the ads and vote for them.

“Why would you give money to someone who has lots of money and not to charity?”

Yes, why would I give lots of money to any campaign especially right now, 4 years later. I donate money to the public school my boys go to and I give my time. Without donations there isn’t enough money for the school to have PE, Art, a Nurse, or even enough teachers so the classes aren’t overcrowded.

Giving money to a candidate doesn’t seem like the best thing to do in this economy, but I worry what will happen if I don’t. I worry that if I don’t support the candidates I believe in (or as much as I can believe in anyone these days) that all of our choices will go away. Choice to make decisions over our bodies, choice for affordable healthcare, and choice about sending our kids to public school.

It seems like there are so many areas that need our money right now. There are so many people that need help.

Where else would I like to see my money go? How about to feeding the 2.5 million children in Los Angeles alone who aren’t getting enough food to eat. Or how about to a free clinic like the one at Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles that is giving medical care and birth control to students who can’t get it elsewhere. I wish I knew where to give my money to help the mentally ill homeless man who lives on and off at the end of my street and yells at unseen figures and walks into traffic.

What I really wish is that I had confidence that the candidates would tackle issues that I care about instead of using the money to tear each other down. Obama raised $71 million in June and Romney raised $106 million. If only this money were going toward something bigger than just an election.

What will I tell my son if he asks me if I’m donating this year? I just don’t know.




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.

20 July 2012

Summer of Feminista: Access and Affordability to Higher Education



This week Summer of Feminista welcomes 


Martha Carolina Preciado from www.martyness.com, music bloggera from Latin America, as she discusses what she wants to see from the 2012 Presidential Candidates.

As a Latina voter, an issue on President Barack Obama’s political agenda which resonates is access and affordability for underprivileged students to higher education institutions.

Specifically, a long term goal of Latino educational advancement. Latinos remain significantly underrepresented in enrollment and acceptance rates. For many, financing college is a hardship. Yet another major obstacle are social barriers in public education which continue to prevent economically and educationally disadvantaged students from pursuing higher educational opportunities. Limited funding allocation and poorly executed academic preparation programs are misconstruing guidance of students towards college. Question to consider towards President Barack Obama’s political stance on education: How will the federal government distribute funds in order to create, activate and effectively execute academic outreach programs for communities of color?

Transitioning from high school to college is a rocky and most probable, a first experience for many Latino families. Many Latino/a students of low-income backgrounds will become the first in their families to earn college degrees. However, many educationally and economically disadvantaged students in low performing schools are less likely to receive college preparation resources than more affluent students in the same scenario. Financial aid is an instrumental role in Latino/a youth and families. Socio-economic constraints within the Latino community serve as a determining factor towards college consideration. Students lack the preparation and information yet most important, financial aid. President Obama’s administration needs continuous and adequate sources of funding to programs which correlate the Latino/a community and the higher education system.

Several years ago, I attended a Latina symposium in Washington D.C where a very curious (to refrain from using “ignorant”) attendee asked: Why many Latinas contributed to a high rate of high school dropout and teen pregnancy? The answer to such question permeates the social and cultural fabric of Latino communities throughout the country who have been marginalized and disenfranchised. Latino students, specifically Mujeres; How are they given information about educational resources and opportunities if these are vaguely provided in our communities? It is a difficult matter for Latinas to aspire about college with limited information, lack of motivation and limited financial access. The federal government needs an action call to distribute funds to K-12 academic college preparation programs to undeserved communities throughout the United States to promote a quality life and the full potential of each student.

My main concerns are the opportunities, possibilities and resources my community will be able to access in order to pursue a higher education; thus improve a student’s academic endeavors. College is heavily promoted, yet, the consideration of such decision is indisposed when students and families do not have access nor college affordability.

How does all the aforementioned become enacted in legislative action? Electoral power. The power for those who have the privilege to vote, to do so. To keep my aspirations, desires yet most importantly my community in mind when voting. Outreach to Latino/as in the community to voice and use their electoral power. Exercise your vote to empower our communities; make our government accountable and make our voice heard.



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.

18 July 2012

EVENT: Half the Sky Twitter Chat July 18th

Remember that book everyone was reading a few years ago about the plight of women and girls around the world? Well it's still being read (although it still sits dusty on my book shelf taunting me) by thousands and has grown into a movement.

Not only is there a fab looking website and a PBS special October 1st and 2nd, but today there is a twitter chat!

Wednesday, July 18
Join Half the Sky and Somaly Mam at 5:30 pm Eastern
Use the hashtags #endslavery and #halfthesky

 This is happening during summer camp pick up, so I can't join in the discussion, but I hope you can make it!

Disclaimer: I'm a member The Mission List, which supports me in writing about the causes I care about. All opinions are my own.

11 July 2012

Summer of Feminista: Confessions of a Disgruntled Voter

This week we welcome Michelle from xishell words!

I have a confession: I haven’t been paying much attention to the upcoming presidential election. There, I said it. I consider myself to be a progressive Xicana Feminist, so it’s kind of embarrassing to admit it. But now that I have and that I’m thinking about it, I really haven’t paid much attention to any presidential election- possibly ever. I’ve read articles, watched some TV, but I’ve never done in-depth research into a candidate’s position on this or that because I know that I’m going to vote for the Democratic candidate. I’m not a Democrat. I’m most definitely not a Republican. I’m ideologically opposed to our current two-party system, what is the name for that? From my perspective, there isn’t much of a difference between the candidates when it comes down to it. What Republicans say frightens me, what they do terrifies me; what Democrats say sometimes encourages me, other times, confuses me and then what they do, frightens me. Either way, I’m frightened. Sometimes, based on actions alone, I can’t tell the difference between them. So what is a person like me to do? I want to participate in my civic responsibility but feel discouraged by it all.

I am disillusioned by the state of our “democratic” process and have been since I’ve been of voting age. How much does it really matter who is elected? If Gore had been elected in office, when 9/11 happened, would it have been handled very differently? I’m not trying to defend the Bush/Cheney office, I just don’t think it matters all that much who is the head when the body is a puppet being manipulated by corporate greed. And although I sound like one right about now, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m just a Disgruntled, on the verge of Apathetic, Voter. Which is sad because the truth is I care a lot.

I care about education. I want to see children taught critical thinking skills and their imagination and interests encouraged. I wish for higher education to be available and accessible to everyone who pursues it. And if students are instead interested in vocational trades, I want them to be recognized for their skills and contributions as well.

I care about the economy and jobs. I would like to see all the different levels of work valued for their contributions to our economy. And for industries to be encouraged to operate from where they live because maybe then they will consider their impact and invest into the community more than floating multi-national corporations do (maybe?). That we cease our dependence on non-renewable resources so that by the time my child is an adult, he won’t be living in some post-apocalyptic dystopia.

I care about healthcare- from the inside out. I want to see holistic repairs of our minds, bodies, and emotions instead of one-size-fits-all pills. I want for our government to put as much effort and resources into preventing diseases as we do into pharmaceutical treatments. I hope that someday a person of any age, income, class, and immigration status can receive affordable, fair, and high quality care without worry or discrimination.

I care about immigration. I want humane and compassionate policies that recognize U.S. involvement and dependence on illegal immigration. There is no short cut solution- these are real people in real struggles trying to do the best they can for themselves and their families.

I care about health and safety for all, and given recent developments, women in particular. I want for all people to have access to health care, have autonomy over their bodies, to be protected from threats of and actual acts of violence and abuse, and valued for their full range of capabilities.

I care about our food system. I would like to see more locally based agriculture free of GMOs and pesticide, hormone, and antibiotic abuse/over use. I want the people who grow and harvest our food to be paid a living wage, have access to humane and just working conditions. I wish for healthy and whole foods to be available to everyone; ending corporate subsidies for corn and soy crops that make an ear of organic corn more expensive than a two liter of soda.

I care about our water supply. I want it to be protected from contamination and pollution- for it to be used and shared wisely as well. And I want clean, safe water to be accessible and affordable to all. Something it seems will become more of a “hot topic” in the future as our natural resources continue to dwindle.

I care about the safety of the cosmetic and home products we use everyday. I want to use products that are safe and non-toxic without having to do hours of research before hand. I don’t want to worry that my cumulative exposure to the toxins in these products may contribute to cancer, birth defects, pollution, asthma, hormone disruptions, etc.

I care about the environment. I have a young son and I want for him to be able to swim in the ocean, play in the rain, experience wildlife, and feel a connection to the natural world. I don’t want him to have to go to a museum to see photos of what the planet and its inhabitants used to look like.

I care about marriage equality. Which I kind of resent having to add here because why should the government be involved with who we choose to commit to? People who wish to be married, should be able to do it in whatever way is best for them: religious, spiritual, cultural, business, whatever. And those who don’t want to be married in any of those ways should not be deprived of benefits or privileges for their choice either. Relationships are too personal for legislation, in my opinion.

I care about the global community and our place in it. I want the U.S. to be seen as an accepting, compassionate, considerate, and fair county. A country that puts human rights above profits when it comes to international interventions.

So you see, its not that I don’t care. I just don’t know that our elected officials do. And if they did, I suspect and fear that corporate interests and bribes and threats and conflicts of interests and whatever else I don’t know about, have rendered them powerless to do anything substantially meaningful. I vote because I can, because it’s a privilege my immigrant family struggled for, but does it really matter? The only power through voting I see is in local politics, the national field just feels like a complete loss. Unless and until we find a way to remove corporate greed from our politics, we’re in over our heads, or maybe more accurate, out-resourced.

How do we create meaningful change within our current system? Voting is the existing tool and it just doesn’t seem to be working out very well. Is it just me who feels like this? Am I too impatient? With the way things are going, my prediction is that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. Which frightens me a great deal. But come November, you will find me at the voting booth. Putting in my two cents, hoping for the best and bracing myself for the worst.


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.

10 July 2012

Viva la Feminista is a whole hand!

WOWZERS! I can't believe it's already been five years since I opened this blog.

I seriously do not even know where to start. So much has happened since this baby opened. So many new books read, honors, opportunities, but seriously, it is all about the people I have met through my writing here.

Thank you to everyone who has continued to check in here despite me neglecting it during my return to graduate school.

And to celebrate VLF's anniversary, I've spiffed her up with a new template (so if you're reading this elsewhere, you might want to click over). Not everything is perfect yet, but some things had to wait until I hit the switch.

I'm planning a few surprises for the rest of the summer...before I have to hit the books again. And don't forget to keep up with Summer of Feminista. Tomorrow's post is excellent!

Here's to another five years!

09 July 2012

Review: Strong!

Cheryl Haworth isn't just strong, she was the youngest athlete to win an Olympic weightlifting medal.

The documentary, Strong!, follows Haworth as she recovers from a frightening injury. But what made this story poignant was how weight, femininity and beauty are discussed. 

At one point, Haworth and two other women who weight-lift discuss what it means to larger than average and it was heartbreaking. Haworth recounts that during the 2000 Olympics a man asked her to pose with a cheeseburger. Now imagine me in my living room yelling, "REALLY?!" Haworth and the other women talk about how they are athletes and thus watch what they eat. But at 300 lbs, Haworth looks more fat than strong to most people.

And that conflict between loving her strong body and conforming to society's beauty standards plays out during a shopping trip where Haworth voices her displeasure with even finding clothes in her size. "I find solace knowing I could beat up anyone in this store," she remarks as her friend scours for the elusive size.



Later on in the documentary, Haworth ponders her future career choices, one of which is being in the Coast Guard. Which would require her to lose 110 pounds. This ignites more conversation about Haworth's body image where she admits to wanting to lose weight for vanity's sake. Haworth's struggle against beauty standards seems similar to current USA Olympian Sarah Roble not being valued by companies who usually gobble up young Olympians for endorsement deals.

Strong! is an intriguing peek into women's weightlifting and does a great job at the body image issue. Together this is a documentary well worth your time. It premiered on PBS in late June, so check your local listings for when it will reair in your area or perhaps it still hasn't shown on your local station.

Disclaimer: I received a review DVD of this documentary.