I’m a madrina! (and you can be too)

quinces-mx

The other day I received a message from my amiga Denisse Montalvan over at The Orphaned Earring, letting me know that she is once again accepting donations to give a quinceañera to the orphan girls in Mexico and Guatemala who are coming of age. This is something a little extra she does for these girls, because her organization supports many orphaned children, both boys and girls, in various Latin American countries throughout the year with food, fun activities, and more.

This cause is really close to my heart, and there’s a sort of ugly truth behind my reason. One thing Denisse pointed out has really stuck in my mind, and that is the fact that there are sick people out there who lure teenage girls to run away with promises of a better life. A girl with unfulfilled wishes may be especially vulnerable to falling victim. We need these girls to know that they are loved and make sure they feel special on their special day. They are no less deserving of having their special day than any other girl in Latin America, (and Denisse tells me they are all such good girls – super kind, helpful with the younger children, and they do well in school.)

So, when I received the email from Denisse the other day, I asked Carlos if we could donate a sum of money again this year and he not only agreed, but told me to double it. It wasn’t a huge sum of money, but Denisse makes the money go far – you’ll be amazed with what she can do on a small budget (Just $30 a month feeds about 60 children daily for a month in Guatemala! That’s one fast food meal for a family of four in the U.S.!) and every little bit helps, so if you want to be a madrina or padrino too, even if you can only give a few dollars, please do – it could make all the difference in the world in their lives.

Details from Denisse:

quinces-guatemala

Guatemala girls: The celebration will be held Sunday, August 17th. Thankfully our three beautiful girls already have quinceañera dresses that were donated for last year’s quinceañera celebration. We just need to raise money for the party and gifts for the girls!

Mexico girls: To our surprise, the girls in Tijuana want to do a history tour in D.F. Mexico. They’ve read about the history of their country and dream of traveling to visit the museums and historical sites in D.F. Instead of spending money on a party, they would like help with plane tickets. Once in D.F. we would find a church or friends to allow them to stay with them.

Become a quinceañera madrina o padrino (godmother or godfather) and help raise money for celebrations for 4 girls in Mexico and 3 girls in Guatemala. This is how you can help!

• Donate using The Orphaned Earring Paypal Link or send your donation to donation@theorphanedearring.com

• Help meet our goal by contributing to the #QuinceDreams Fundly campaign and encourage your family and friends to #DoGood by donating any amount. Simply click here: https://fundly.com/quincedreams

• You can also become a monthly supporter to help us continue to bring smiles to over 300 children! Become a monthly donor. Any amount helps! Click on this Paypal Link, enter the amount you want to donate in the amount box and click on the recurring monthly payment.

It might be ambitious of The Orphaned Earring to think they can make all their orphaned children dreams come true, but with your support I know nothing is impossible!

We Need Diverse Books!

Image created by:  Icey Design

Image created by: Icey Design

The past couple days, I have had the immense pleasure of helping organize #WeNeedDiverseBooks with some amazing people – (You may have seen me tweeting already from my @Latinaish account as well as my personal @TracyDeLopez account.) The campaign is described in detail below, but it is basically a call for more diversity in books – something many of us have been talking about for a long time. I remember when Latinas for Latino Lit launched with this same mission, and through that I had the opportunity to express my views on the topic, as well as host authors René Colato Laínez and Meg Medina here on my blog. So I am really excited to see so many people coming together, from la comunidad Latina and beyond – to hopefully bring about some real change in the publishing industry. I hope you’ll join us! – Tracy López

A Joint Message From The Organizers of #WeNeedDiverseBooks, And Details On How You Can Get Involved:

Recently, there’s been a groundswell of discontent over the lack of diversity in children’s literature. The issue is being picked up by news outlets like these two pieces in the NYT, CNN, EW, and many more. But while we individually care about diversity, there is still a disconnect. BEA’s Bookcon recently announced an all-white-male panel of “luminaries of children’s literature,” and when we pointed out the lack of diversity, nothing changed.

Now is the time to raise our voices into a roar that can’t be ignored. Here’s how:

May 1st at 1pm (EST) – There will be a public call for action that will spread over 3 days. We’re starting with a visual social media campaign using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. [People are already using it, so join us!] We want people to use Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, blogs, and post anywhere they can to help make the hashtag go viral.

You can also support #WeNeedDiverseBooks by taking a photo holding a sign that says:

“We need diverse books because ___________________________.” Fill in the blank with an important, poignant, funny, and/or personal reason why this campaign is important to you.

The photo can be of you or a friend or anyone who wants to support diversity in kids’ lit. It can be a photo of the sign without you if you would prefer not to be in a picture. Be as creative as you want! Pose the sign with your favorite stuffed animal or at your favorite library. Get a bunch of friends to hold a bunch of signs. However you want to do it, we want to share it! We will host all the photos at WeNeedDiverseBooks.Tumblr, so please submit your photos by May 1st to weneeddiversebooks@yahoo.com with the subject line “photo” or submit it right on our Tumblr page here and it will be posted throughout the first day.

At 1:00PM EST the Tumblr will start posting and it will be your job to reblog, tweet, Facebook, or share wherever you think will help get the word out.

The intent is that from 1pm EST to 3pm EST, there will be a non-stop hashtag party to spread the word. We hope that we’ll get enough people to participate to make the hashtag trend and grab the notice of more media outlets.

The Tumblr will continue to be active throughout the length of the campaign, and for however long we need to keep this discussion going, so we welcome everyone to keep emailing or sending in submissions even after May 1st.

May 2nd – The second part of our campaign will roll out with a Twitter chat scheduled for 2pm EST using the same hashtag. Please use #WeNeedDiverseBooks at 2pm on May 2nd and share your thoughts on the issues with diversity in literature and why diversity matters to you.

May 3rd – At 2pm EST, the third portion of our campaign will begin. There will be a Diversify Your Shelves initiative to encourage people to put their money where their mouth is and buy diverse books and take photos of them. Diversify Your Shelves is all about actively seeking out diverse literature in bookstores and libraries, and there will be some fantastic giveaways for people who participate in the campaign! (More details and giveaway entry HERE!)

We hope that you will take part in this in any way you can. We need to spread the word far and wide so that it will trend on Twitter. So that media outlets will pick it up as a news item. So that the organizers of BEA and every big conference and festival out there gets the message that diversity is important to everyone. We hope you will help us by being a part of this movement.

Hasta Aquí No Más

hasta-aqui

If you’re anything like me, it’s important to you to teach your sons to be respectful of women, but there’s a campaign I was made aware of recently that made me realize, as a mother, I can do more. The “Hasta Aquí No Más” campaign encourages men to speak up when other men are being disrespectful or abusive toward women. Speaking up when someone isn’t acting right may sound like a no-brainer, but it takes courage to do it in certain situations, and when there is machismo in the cultural mix, it can be harder still to take an unpopular stance when in a group with other males.

Although the pressure is intense for teenagers, even married adult men can find themselves in awkward situations.

After seeing these videos, I’m taking a pledge to sit down and talk to my sons about the topic. Our boys and young men need to know, it takes more of a man to stand up for what’s right, than to stay silent just to maintain the false appearance of manliness and approval of peers.

Break the silence. Spread the word. Rompe el silencio. Pasa la voz. #HastaAquiNoMas

What do you think of this campaign? Have you talked to your son/s about this topic? If you’re a man, do you find it difficult to speak up in defense of women when other men around you are being disrespectful?

Learn more about this campaign at Draw-the-line.

Tribal Wives

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Image source: Link TV

Image source: Link TV

No miro mucha televisión pero de vez en cuando descubro un programa que me encanta. Eso es lo que pasó con el programa, “Tribal Wives” en Link TV.

El primer episodio que vi fue sobre una mujer de Inglaterra que se llama Sass y ella fue a vivir con el tribu Kuna de Panamá. Me gustó ver las interacciones entre ella y los miembros del tribu, en particular con la figura materna, Ana Lida. El show, “Tribal Wives”, realmente tocó mi corazón y me hizo pensar.

Después de ver este episodio y otro, fui a buscar más información en línea sobre el programa. Encontré mucho comentario inteligente pero opinones muy diferentes. Había gente que cree que el show está explotando los indígenas y no están de acuerdo con él.

Entiendo la perspectiva y tal vez haya un grano de verdad en esta opinión, pero también me alegra ver gente de culturas diferentes aprendiendo unos de otros y teniendo amistades.

¿Has visto el programa? ¿Qué piensas tú? ¿Es ético grabar un “reality show” así?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

I don’t watch a lot of television but once in awhile I discover a program I love. This is what happened with the program “Tribal Wives” on Link TV.

The first episode I saw was about an English woman named Sass and she went to live with the Kuna tribe in Panama. I liked to watch the interactions between her and the tribe, particularly with the mother figure, Ana Lida. The show, “Tribal Wives,” really touched my heart and made me think.

After watching this episode and another, I went online to find more information about the program. I found a lot of intelligent commentary but really different opinions. There were people who felt the show exploits indigenous people and they didn’t agree with it.

I understand the perspective and maybe there is a grain of truth in that opinion, but it also makes me happy to see people of different cultures learn from each other and make friendships.

Have you seen the program? What do you think? Is it ethical to film a “reality show” like this?

Clotilde Arias, the role model I didn’t know existed

Jreadingmanuscript

In 2006, ahead of nationwide Immigration Reform rallies, a Spanish version of The Star-Spangled Banner was released by Wyclef Jean, Olga Tañon, Pitbull, Ivy Queen, Gloria Trevi, Aventura, Tito “El Bambino”, and Carlos Ponce. There was quite a bit of controversy surrounding the song called “Nuestro Himno” and I, like many others, mistakenly thought that this was the first time the national anthem of the United States had been translated to Spanish.

I learned on a recent trip to The National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., that The Star-Spangled Banner was actually translated by Peruvian immigrant, Clotilde Arias in 1946, commissioned by the U.S. government under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” – an effort to win allies in Latin America after World War II. The original manuscript for “El Pendón Estrellado” is featured in the museum along with the fascinating life history of Arias.

As I walked throughout the exhibit, I just kept thinking, how interesting it is that we choose role models from our limited knowledge of people both living and dead, when in reality there are so many amazing but little known people in history like Clotilde Arias who we can relate to and be inspired by.

Here I’ll share some of the exhibit but for those who live in the D.C. area, I encourage you to make a visit in person – there is plenty more to see.

Image source: The National Museum of American History

Image source: The National Museum of American History

Clotilde Arias was born in Iquitos, Peru in 1901, but it’s her life in the United States which I related to, (and I think many other women will, too.) Here is an excerpt of text which I read on the wall of the exhibit.

“Clotilde Arias arrived in New York City in 1923…Arias intended to study music. In 1929 she married José Anduaga, a Peruvian artist and designer from Iquitos whom she met in New York and with whom she had a son, Roger. They lived in 267 Park Street in Brooklyn. In many of her personal papers she described how difficult life was and how she had to abandon her studies to help support the family.

Arias mastered multitasking at a time when women commonly did not work outside the home. Throughout her life she wore many hats: translator, composer, musician, journalist, copywriter, activist, educator, and of course, mother. She was sometimes all of them at the same time.” – National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.

I must have stood there and read that at least three times. Clotilde felt so real in that moment because juggling all these hats is a frequent topic of discussion among women today. I really felt like you could take Clotilde Arias out of history and plunk her down in the social circles I run in, amongst my group of Latina bloguera friends especially, and she would fit right in.

Arias did freelance work for various brands, like this recipe for Velveeta.

Arias did freelance work for various brands, like this recipe for Velveeta.

Am I the only one who wants to try the Quesadilla con Camarones recipe? … Arias did all kinds of work for different brands including writing jingles and copy. As a bilingual person with music and writing skills, she was in high demand even during The Great Depression. Some of the brands she worked with included Ford Motor Co., IBM, Coca-Cola, Alka-Seltzer, and Campbell’s Soup.

Arias used this Underwood No. 5 typewriter.

Arias used this Underwood No. 5 typewriter.

Arias' translation of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

Arias’ translation of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

Arias became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1942.

Arias became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1942.

Carlos and I were really surprised by how unchanged the Naturalization Certificate is to this day. Carlos’s certificate looks very similar.

The newspaper clipping headline reads: "The Union of South American Women Wants Spanish Required in Our Schools."

The newspaper clipping headline reads: “The Union of South American Women Wants Spanish Required in Our Schools.”

Clotilde Arias and these other women were so incredibly ahead of their time. According to the museum exhibit, “Arias was well-known not only for her professional work, but also for her activism and membership in organizations such as the Red Cross, Inter-American Association of Musicians (which she founded), and American Association of Teachers of Spanish. Language became an important ideological vehicle to express the sense of American unity. Arias and other members of the Union of South American Women advocated for making Spanish a required subject in all U.S. schools.” … And yet bilingualism still isn’t given the priority it deserves in our education system. The debate goes on and our children, as well as our nation, fall behind.

What did you find most fascinating about this exhibit and the life of Clotilde Arias? Could you relate to her, too?

Related Links:

An Immigrant’s Star-Spangled Banner en Español – NPR.org

Not Lost in Translation: The Life of Clotilde Arias – Si.edu

We Women Warriors

Today I want to share a really inspiring film with you. We Women Warriors is “an independent documentary feature that follows three native women who are caught in the crossfire of Colombia’s warfare and who use non-violent resistance to defend their people’s survival.” Check out the trailer and if you feel moved, see below for ways you can view the full film and help their cause.

This August you can see screenings of this film in New York and Los Angeles. Tickets are now available. Don’t live in NY or LA? You can still support We Women Warriors – visit the Take Action page of their website to find out how.

___________

Related link: Colombian Youth Choose Soccer over Violence

Latinaish.com at the White House – The Issues

On May 21st I attended the LATISM Top Bloguera Retreat in Washington, D.C. and part of that event included a White House briefing on issues affecting the Latino community. Today I want to share my experience and some of the things I learned which I think are worth passing on.

The main issues discussed were Health and Education, however, that didn’t stop Meagan Ortiz of Vivir Latino from kicking things off with a very good question regarding immigration. Of course the answer to the question was less than satisfying to anyone who has long supported comprehensive immigration reform, but perhaps that was to be expected.

(Check out Meagan’s thoughts on her experience here.)

Meagan’s question seemed to ignite others. Passionate blogueras lined up and asked very brave and difficult questions. I was proud to be in a room full of women who weren’t afraid to stand up and speak their minds.

Roxana Soto of SpanglishBaby asked about bilingual education and the possibility of more dual immersion schools – again, the answer she/we were given, didn’t satisfy me, but I still feel that our voices were heard, and that’s a start.

(Check out Roxana’s thoughts on her experience here.)

While the blogueras were given plenty of time to ask questions, the White House also had plenty of talking points and messages they wanted to get out to us and to the Latino community as well. Here is video I took, highlighting some of the parts I found most informative.

Here are some links to learn more about the programs mentioned in the video:

FNS.USDA.gov (Nutrition Assistance Programs)
La Mesa Completa
Let’s Move!
Let’s Move! – Spanish version/español
Choose My Plate
Choose My Plate/Mi Plato – Spanish version/español

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What information did you find most useful or surprising? What question would you have asked?

Latinaish.com at the White House

As you all know, I attended the LATISM “Top Bloguera” Retreat in Washington, D.C. Since coming back home I’ve had a lot to catch up on with work, my family, the household, and on top of that, we’ve been having some suegra drama so I haven’t had the luxury of sorting out my thoughts on the event, (let alone my videos and all my photos!)

I did write a recap for Latina Bloggers Connect though, and here is what I said, in part:

“Me personally, I’m still processing it all. I’m the type that needs a few days to think before I can say for certain what conclusion I’ve come to, but I can say with certainty that the event did the following for me:

The Top Bloguera Retreat encouraged me to re-think what I put my energy into and to consider whether I need to re-focus or re-distribute that energy in a different way for more satisfying payoffs, (emotional as well as financial.) – Now you know why I have a lot of thinking to do!”

(Read the rest at: Latina Bloggers Connect.)

The White House briefing was really informative. The Obama Administration has done a lot of things that benefit not just the Latino community, but all communities, and I’m hoping to bring you the highlights of what I learned in an upcoming post.

For now, check out the White House blog: #LatismAtTheWH – Latinos Active in Social Media Visit the White House.

Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) Latina Blogger Retreat in DC

Image source: Brian Talbot

LATISM (Latinos in Social Media), is hosting their first ever “Latina Blogger Retreat” which is scheduled for May 20th to May 22nd, 2012 in Washington, DC. The event is by invitation only, and I was selected to be one of the bloggers in attendance! (Gracias to LATISM’s Ana Roca, Elianne Ramos, and Elma Placeres Dieppa, as well as Latina Bloggers Connect, Las Blogueras, Blogs de Mamas and New Latina.)

The program includes “sessions ranging from blog and business best practices, leadership skills, and social good”, mentoring from top executives in various industries that match each blogger’s interests, and a briefing at the White House, “where Administration officials will discuss the top issues affecting our Latino community: Education, Health and Jobs.”

[More information HERE, HERE, and HERE.]

I’m hoping that outside the obvious awesomeness of being able to see all my bloguera friends, that this will be a learning experience. I would like to learn at least one new solid skill or piece of information that I can apply to my life and/or my writing. I’m also happy that I’ll have the opportunity to discuss the social causes I’m passionate about and that I will potentially learn ways I can better champion those causes.

Want to follow this event and see what I’m up to? I’ll be tweeting using the hashtag #TopBlogueras over the next few days and will also be writing a recap post with photos and possibly video on Latina Bloggers Connect next week. Stay tuned!

Feminine Strength vs. Machismo

Image source: Ray Larabie

In high school we would have one week of gym class that we spent in the weight lifting room. It was in a dark, windowless room down a forgotten hallway. Students were allowed access to it after school but it was often forgotten, except by the jocks. The girls stood in a corner talking, watching the boys, examining their nails and refusing to do anything other than a minute on the rowing machine – preferring to take a zero for the day. I, however, loved our week in the weight lifting room.

Already known for challenging boys to arm wrestling contests at lunch time, (and sometimes winning), my reputation was further sealed by my behavior in the weight lifting room. The boys gathered around to see how much I could bench press, taking bets that I wouldn’t be able to do it each time the peg was moved lower and the weight got heavier. I fed on their pessimism. I loved being underestimated. I took a deep breath, felt the muscles ripping but pushed, pushed, pushed, my lips closed tight, my nostrils flaring. I heard them say knowingly to each other, “She can’t lift it” – as I struggled. My arms shook and I pushed harder still until I would feel the weight give way and my arms straightened above me in victory.

I didn’t care that I wasn’t the kind of girl you ask to the prom, but instead the kind of girl you ask to help push the car when it breaks down. I come from a family of strong women. My mother is well-known for re-decorating while my father is at work – sometimes moving heavy furniture up and down two flights of stairs by herself.

I associated femininity with weakness and wanted no part of it, but I realized how simplistic this point of view was when I gave birth to my first child. Giving birth is an act that is simultaneously the height of femininity and strength. Now, as the mother of two boys, the lone female in a household full of males, I value my feminine side more than I did growing up. Being married to Carlos though, has made me examine my femininity from a cultural perspective. It hasn’t been easy to sort out.

I will try to open a jar of pickles. Carlos will offer to help, reach his hand out for the jar, and I’ll turn away with the jar, stubbornly determined to do it myself. This is when Carlos will tell me I’m like my mother or say, “Why do you have to be so American?!” … to which I’d reply, “Why is it an insult to your manhood for me to open the pickles myself?!”

Over the years, I’ve learned to (usually), hand over the jar of pickles. It makes Carlos feel good to do it for me. I never pretend I can’t do anything, but if it’s difficult, why not give him the satisfaction of feeling that he takes care of me?

I thought that over the years, Carlos and I had mostly ironed out this one cultural wrinkle. We both have made compromises. I let him open jars of pickles that are difficult for me to open, (damn you, carpal tunnel) – and he doesn’t expect me to act completely helpless – fair enough… but at the grocery store while I was unloading the cart at the cash register, I retrieved the case of bottled water from the bottom of the cart and hefted it up and onto the conveyor belt. I thought nothing of it but Carlos whispered through clenched teeth, “Hey, you should have asked me to do it. You’re embarrassing me.”

Embarrassing Carlos was not my intention or even something I had considered – I just wanted to get the groceries checked out so we could go home, (and for the record, the cashier seemed completely unaware of the battle going on right in front of her.) I guess the lesson here is that Carlos and I will always have cultural issues to work on – nothing is ever resolved so completely that it won’t pop up again, so ingrained are the traits we bring from our two different backgrounds.


What is your take and your experiences on the topic of feminine strength vs. machismo?