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25 September 2014

Book Review: Jenni Rivera: The Diva of Banda Music

The Mexican-American music scene hit repeat the night of Dec 8, 2012. Another rising star was taken away from their fans. Jenni Rivera was the Queen of Banda, a regional type of Mexican music. At the time of her death, I had heard of her, but it was mostly connected to her reality TV show. Given my bias against most things reality TV, I ignored additional news of her...that was until that night.

Chicago Public Media journalist, Michael Puente, has crafted a nice "fan" book of Rivera that serves as a 101 for those of us who missed her rise to fame. I had the chance to chat with Puente about the book and Rivera's life. Puente sums up the book as:
A chronicle of Jenni Rivera's life, her career, her achievements and her untimely passing through published reports and additional reporting. Fans of Jenni will enjoy the full-color photos and interesting details about her life.
It is true. This book is a definite coffee table book not one to sit on a shelf. There are a lot of photos in this book that document a career and life cut short.

Rivera was not just a singer who sought the cheap limelight of reality TV, rather she was a former teenage mother turned shrewd business woman. After being kicked out of her parents home as a 16-year-old pregnant girl her teachers would not let her become a statistic. Instead she finished high school and eventually earned a college degree in business. As Puente quotes Rivera, she was a business woman who decided to go into music. Puente cites her business acumen as one of the most surprising things he learned about Rivera and I agree. "She didn’t leave any detail to chance but calculated every move."

As I was learning about her business chops and knowing about her teen pregnancy, I was obviously thinking, "WHOA! What a role model!" Alas, Jenni did not want to be one. But she also knew she was and as Puente told me too it very seriously.
This is a woman who didn’t allow setbacks to get in the way with her being successful. Take away her fame, fortune and legendary career, even after becoming a mother at an early age, she still managed to graduate from college, raise a family and start a career in real estate. That alone takes a lot of self-determination to do. Of course, she didn’t stop there, moving forward on a singing career. Jenni was no doubt a role model to women of all ages for a variety of aspects. Jenni knew she wasn’t perfect but that’s what made her real and that’s why her fans loved her so much.
We rarely get to know the business side of musicians, models and other celebs. I will admit to thinking some of them just have great business people working for them making them look like smart business people. But Jenni seemed to be the real deal. And not alone as Latinas own 36 percent of all companies owned by minority women in the USA. Puente remarks:
Jenni drove her music business, from recording, to promoting to distribution. Her determination led her to become one of the biggest reality stars on Spanish-language TV. She also had her own radio show and started to move into films. As someone once said about Jenni, she was always about the next project or the next thing to come. She wasn’t comfortable with standing in the same place.
Rivera died just as she was about to attempt a crossover into English-speaking music. That got me thinking of how the music world has or has not changed since Latin Fever hit the music scene when Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin hit the scene. How would have a Rivera crossover looked like? Puente speculates:
Today, many Latino artists are respected for being musicians first. Of course, we may not be seeing as many crossover artist as we once did like back in 1999 and 2000 when Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony crossover from being primarily Spanish language singers, although Pitbull and Shakira seem to be exceptions.
There's no doubt that Latino artist can rise and be successful for their music. If you look at up and coming artist such as Ariana Grande, Becky G, Demi Lovato, Bruno Mars and Prince Royce, those are Latin artists who are viewed more for their music than being Latino although the culture is still a big part of who they are.

As for Jenni, she had plans on recording an English language album and there’s little doubt she would have been successful. She listened to and was influence by English language pop, rock, rap, hip hop and R& B music. From my understanding, Jenni recorded some rap, hip hop type English tunes back in the mid 2000s. There’s a chance that music could be released by her family one day. But recording in English or not, I believe Jenni would have always remained true to her bread and butter Spanish-language music. They don't call her the "Diva de la Banda" for nothing. 
And sadly this is what happens when someone dies as they are ascending to bigger and great things...we speculate what ifs. While Banda music is not my cup of tea, I do need to tip my hat to Rivera. She was a force to be reckoned with and that alone is enough to miss her.

To learn more of "Diva de la Banda"  and support Viva la Feminista, please purchase your book through Powells or Indiebound.

Disclaimer: I received an e-version of the book for review and access to the author for this blog post.

17 September 2014

New Book: Mothering in East Asian Communities: Politics and Practices

Demeter Press is pleased to announce the upcoming publication of the collection, Mothering in East Asian Communities: Politics and Practices Edited by Patti Duncan and Gina Wong

In Mothering in East Asian Communities, Duncan and Wong seamlessly rupture a homogenous identity category—that of the “tiger mom.” The editors invoke the works of diverse contributors who critically challenge essentialized identity categories and racialized and sexualized experiences of women of color within the institution of motherhood and practices of mothering. Here, the edited volume grapples with globalization, transnationalism, and capitalism with an East Asian ethno-racial-cultural context. Duncan and Wong offer a personal and political analysis of motherhood that is socially and culturally constructed, shaped by race, class, culture, sexuality, and other social categories.
—Roksana Badruddoja, Ph.D., M.B.A., Advanced Assistant Professor of Sociology & Coordinator of Women’s and Gender Studies, Manhattan College, New York

Mothering in East Asian Communities: Politics and Practices is a solid addition to the fields of Motherhood Studies, Asian Studies, and Women’s Studies. By critically examining a myriad of issues, such as gender, class, nation, migration, adoption, and mothering, Patti Duncan and Gina Wong expose insightful frameworks and essentially “roar back” at the ideology of the “Tiger Mother.”
—Dorsía Smith Silva, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras

Patti Duncan is associate professor and Coordinator of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Oregon State University where she specializes in transnational feminisms, women of color feminisms, and feminist media studies.

Gina Wong is a Registered Psychologist and associate professor in the Graduate Centre for Applied Psychology at Athabasca University in Alberta, Canada. Gina has a program of research focused on maternal mental health and wellness.

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.

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?


This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

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