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


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?

JLo backs it up like a Tonka Truck for Pitbull

Last night my 13 year old interrupted my very impassioned rendition of Yertle the Turtle, which I was reading to his little brother before bedtime.

“Mommy! Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull just performed on the American Music Awards and it was nasty!”

“What do you mean nasty?”

“Jennifer Lopez was barely wearing anything, first of all.”

“Okay, not shocking.”

“No, but she like put her butt near Pitbull’s… you-know, and Pitbull looked like, all happy, of course.”

(The 10 year old giggles.)

I answered my 13 year old with something like, “Yeah? Well, you know how Pitbull is, honey,” and I went back to the story. I mean, it’s JLo and Pitbull. It’s the American Music Awards… what did he expect? We have these conversations often enough. I’ve told him, sex sells. I’ve told him that at some point very soon (if not already), he will find performances and images like these to be spectacular rather than “nasty.” I’ve told him that no matter how strong certain urges may be and despite what the culture says is appropriate – he should always treat women with respect.

Then this morning I came across a photo from the performance which he had described to me and it made me think.

(I can’t use the photo here since it’s owned by Getty Images. Click the link above to see the original. Here are some screenshots I took from video.)

J.Lo and Pitbull perform at the American Music Awards.Image is a screenshot taken from video.

J.Lo and Pitbull perform at the American Music Awards.Image is a screenshot taken from video

What can be said about these photos? I’ll admit that my first reaction was to laugh – (partly because it appears that Pitbull’s pants aren’t flat in the front and partly because I imagine Marc Anthony watching this from the sidelines.)

Look, total honesty here – I love both JLo and Pitbull. I listen to their music and think they are both talented individuals and exceptional entertainers. Pitbull is one of the very few artists that I’m willing to actually buy the album from, because I love every song and know I can dance through the entire CD from beginning to end. As a woman, I get kind of disgusted with the constant objectification of women in his music – but as a music lover, I can’t get enough. It’s a moral contradiction that I’m totally aware of.

After that initial amused reaction though, the photo also made me kind of sad. Here is JLo, one of the most successful Latinas in the world, bending over for Pitbull like an endless number of women have happily done for him before being tossed aside like used Kleenex.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a meaningless performance meant to entertain and nothing should be read into it. I know it was just a choreographed dance, a music awards moment that lasted for no more than 10 seconds and will ultimately be forgotten – but it just seems symbolic of how women, (Latina and otherwise), are viewed and consequently treated.

The cultural message: No matter how smart, how successful, how kind or talented you are, in the end, chicas, this is what you’re good for.

A peso for your thoughts, gente.

Related Link:

Latinaish.com – Autoestima

Belleza en Grande

Telemundo is beginning a special series aimed at plus-sized women to air during their show “Al Rojo Vivo.” The series, “Belleza en Grande” seeks to promote acceptance of all body shapes and sizes while providing helpful fashion advice.

Spanish-language television isn’t exactly known for promoting acceptance of anything but perfect bodies, (and English-language television isn’t much better), so I’m really pleased to see Telemundo taking this step in the right direction.

For more information on the series, including when to tune in, check out the press release:

MIAMI – July 8 2011– Telemundo’s “Al Rojo Vivo” will air “Belleza en Grande,” a series of special reports starting Monday, July 11 at 5pm ET/ 4C. María Celeste Arrarás, will present a sneak preview of this series during her appearance on NBC’s “Today Show” on Saturday, July 9, as part of the ongoing collaboration between the two networks.

Conducted by fashion expert Quique Usales, “Belleza en Grande” celebrates female beauty in all shapes and sizes. Changing the belief that fashion is designed only for skinny women, Maria Celeste, along with Quique, will present daily reports that will transform the way people see the plus-size woman.

Ranging from how to pick the right underwear, how to dress for the office, and how to select the basic pieces for a wardrobe, to how to choose the perfect lingerie for seduction as well as the right hairstyle to accentuate her best features, this series will not only offer beauty and fashion tips to women who are not a size zero, but will also give them the tools -and the inspiration- to have the right attitude to look beautiful, whatever their size.

Viewers will be able to see these and other special reports on http://www.Telemundo.com/alrojovivo.

What do you think?