San Antonio’s Rebel Mariposa of La Botanica on the power of cultura, food, and art

Rebel Mariposa. Image via http://www.vivalabotanica.com

Xica Nation recently had the pleasure of interviewing Rebel Mariposa of San Antonio, Texas for a special two-part series about her powerful culinary and artistic community work.


Part I:  La Botanica

Part II: “Aqui Estamos y No Nos Vamos” art show


Rebel Mariposa is a self-identified queer Tejana living in San Antonio, Texas who is trailblazing consciousness, cultura, and the arts in her own unique way.  She is the chef and owner of the highly acclaimed La Botanica  and is also a curator, artivist, and dancer.  

Part I:  La Botanica

Via La Botanica’s website:

“Given our incredible history and culture here in Tejas, our food embodies the rich traditions of TexMex, Gulf Coast, New Mexican and Mexican cuisine. Our food and drinks have been designed around accessible and seasonal ingredients. But more than an eatery, La Botanica aims to be a gathering place for an eclectic beloved community.

“Edible gardens in our sizable wrap-around yard supply fresh veggies and herbs for our kitchen, serving as an accessible laboratory for those wanting to learn to grow their own food. We also have film screenings and live music on our lovely patio, regular installations by local artists, cooking and gardening classes, and benefits for to raise funds for movements that advance social justice.”

What is your current position and/or project?

I own and run La Botanica Texas’ first vegan restaurant with a full bar, a community venue (and recently voted one of the best lesbian bars and runner up for best vegetarian in SA by the San Antonio Current.)

What is the story behind the famous La Botanica? Where did the vision begin?

La Botanica.  Image via http://www.vivalabotanica.com

There was no direct vision for La Botanica it was something that was destined to happen from I guess day one of my existence or perhaps even further back.  I come from a line of self starters, self employed, husting familia.  Farmworkers, curandera/midwife, artists, activists.  I spent my working life doing all sorts of jobs and when La Botanica opened it all made sense, my journey to get me to that moment.  It was a great and satisfying feeling.  I don’t know where I will go from here but I know La Botanica was meant to exist and I am grateful for the other 3 co-owners for presenting the opportunity for it to unfold and exist.  Also extremely grateful to work with such a great staff. the  staff is what really makes La Botanica so great.  It takes a village, it’s the bands, djs, customers that also make La Botanica what it is.  All of that mixed together makes magic.

Were there any challenges as La Botanica manifested?

Por supuesto!  Brown, queer women run business, oh and with a vegan menu in Texas!  I would and still tell my staff  sometimes “against all the odds, we are here and we are making it.”  When I first moved back I would say most people I talked to didn’t know what vegan was, they assumed it was vegetarian, that has changed a lot in the past 3 years.

What has the response been?

In the beginning we got lots of not so great feedback, we were thrown in the deep end and learning to swim in front of an audience.  Lots of critiques and and doubts pero now two years later we are going beyond just staying afloat we are actually swimming.  We still have a ways to go to get to an island and take a rest but I am grateful for each day.  

What are some of the top selling menu items?

Do you have any upcoming events/projects?  

We are also turning 2 this June.  We got a our 2nd annual love fest prom happening in June too!

We are gonna start a Community Hands-On Automotive Class Thursdays 6pm. July 20th is our first class in a 3 months series.  For more info join our email list http://eepurl.com/cGOs_P

How can people connect with you and/or support?

La Botanica is located at 2911 N St. Mary’s St., SATX 78212.  Come eat, drink, dance with us!  We are also available for catering and La B can be rented for private events.  

We are on all the social media sites, follow us and like us.  Subscribe to our email newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cGOs_P

Website:  http://www.vivalabotanica.com


Part II: “Aqui Estamos y No Nos Vamos” art show

Was there a particular moment in your life when you felt called to focus on questions of: identity, gender, and/or decolonization in your life’s work?

At different stages in my life, as I evolve as I experience different isms and I am called to do that work.  For example when I was in 8th grade we moved to the north side of town.  I was attending Tafolla Middle school, that is in the heart of westside-raza, so when I attend a middle school on the northside I had never seen that many white people in one place, the classrooms. The cafeteria, the parents, etc. I was thrown for a loop so I turned to writing, I wrote a poem about walking and feet and shadows and how both shadows no matter the color of the skin of the person are the same color.  So I have had several moments like those in my lifetime where my world shifts & I see things thru a new lens and I create work around that awareness.  Art is always how I have dealt with paradigm shifts, moments of shock and awe, pain, anger and joys.

Via the event FB page:  

Aquí Estamos Y No Nos Vamos, highlights the resistance, solidarity, anger, hope, and healing women of color are experiencing in response to the abusive and oppressive rhetoric that is/was disseminated during Trump’s campaign and carried on into his presidency. The art speaks to a transformation of a social or personal strife that translates into piercing visions of the present and a futuro con Esperanza. The artists featured in this exhibit believe that art must address the abuse on our bodies, communities, and lands.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
The women of color artists featured in this exhibit are working class, immigrant, queer, and create artwork ranging from traditional visual art to sound art to sculpture to textile and much more.

What are some things that you have learned on your journey along the intersections of identity/multiple marginality/health/decolonization?

Everyone has an important and an unique story to tell. Each version a thread in the weave of life.   We have so much internal work to do ourselves, so much healing that will take generations.  I am turning 37 soon and I am definitely less prejudiced & colonized, than I was at 27 but I am still deconstructing, learning everyday how to be a better human to myself, others and this planet. It’s a life work/journey.  I feel like I am smack in the middle of my life and I have come so far but it’s only half of the journey – what will come of the other half?  Vamos a ver.

What is the story behind the “Aqui Estamos Y No Nos Vamos” art show?  

Representation.  We have been here for hundreds of years and we aren’t leaving or being intimidated by a white man, please they been trying to do that to women of color for centuries and mira we haven’t gone anywhere if anything we are getting stronger. I see it in women of all ages there is a strength that is emerging from deep within that is unstoppable.  

Click on the image to download the official PDF.

What has the community response been like?

People love the exhibit.  I am very humbled by all the positive responses.  This show was not easy to take on for me or the mini curators, as like to call them all though after this show they are no longer mini.  Eliza Perez and Jess Gonzalez and I were all going through personal things in our lives on top of huge work loads and then we took on the responsibility of doing a political driven women of color exhibit, nombre it was exhausting and emotional but also nurturing and healing.  Also the best response for me is that the artists in the exhibit are happy with the show.  It’s not easy pleasing artists and especially that many.  

How can people support this project?

WOC start and keep making art :)

I am currently assisting Sarah Castillo with her upcoming NALAC exhibit, and working with Julysa Sosa on her first show in September through lady base gallery, also got some san antonio public art stuff in the works… http://www.ladybasegallery.com/ and in March 2018 Eliza, Jess and I will be teaming up again to curate the Shttps://www.instagram.com/julysasosaphoto/ society for the study of Gloria Anzaldua exhibit in San Antonio location:TBD

http://www.gloriaanzaldua.com/?page_id=4

 

Crafting Cultura with love

Xica Nation welcomes Angela Hernandez of AngMir designs to the official Xica Nation store!

We wanted to take a moment to introduce Angela and her work!

What is your name and title? How do you identify? Where are you from/at?

Hi, my name is Angela (Angie) M Hernandez, business name is AngMir which is a combo of first & maiden name Miranda. I’m a Chicana born & raised in Chicago. Member of Mujeres Mutantes, female artist collective.

Where does your journey into creating and wearing jewelry begin?  When did you connect with your calling to produce culture-affirming jewelry?

I’ve always loved creating things since a young age. I would watch my paternal grandma Maria, (may she Rest In Peace) relax by crocheting, knitting, drawing flowers. My mom, Esperanza, would clear off the kitchen table and start making crafts & I’d watch & learn & eventually join in. Creating & crafting became something normal for me. I grew up keeping myself busy as well making different things & ended up loving to create my own jewelry. As I got older I became more aware of the lack of jewelry that would help represent me. Experimenting with different materials & looks ended up being therapeutic, creating an expression of phases in my life which ended up being unique. Doing this, friends and family encouraged me to sell my jewelry, little did I know other people would also be able to connect & relate to these pieces.

Are there any specific problems or barriers you encountered during your time related to this theme in corporate America?

There was a period of time when working in corporate America that was rough. I worked a lot with the public & loved it, even made it up to a management role. There was a location I was transferred to within the company where people of color weren’t accepted, by the customers nor employees. I felt as though I had to keep proving myself. I’ve been told to go back to Mexico by the people which left me without words. It’s different from when you hear about people being racist & making these remarks from when it actually happens to you. This, I believe became a turning point & opened my eyes to so much. Feeling as though I couldn’t let anyone break me or make me feel any less of a person I started expressing myself through wearable art. I eventually left the company & focused on my art wanting to create a change, help others express themselves & feel proud of our cultura Mexicana. So that’s where the jewelry comes in. I’ve already had experience making jewelry but it wasn’t me. I needed something more, lively, colorful a lil rebellious & fun. The only way to do this was to make & design my own beads. Arte Mexicana inspired me even more, I also create mixed media art pieces, mainly using clay & have participated in art showings. I feel a sense of calm & appreciation since I’ve started this new chapter in my life. It’s a great feeling to see & know that there are others out there wearing my creations, showing their pride in our cultura.

I’m very fortunate to have the support & love of my family to be able to pursue my dream. Most of all my husband, Sergio, who has always encouraged me to follow my heart & start my new adventure.

How can folks connect with you? Do you have any upcoming events you would like to share?  Are there any images you would like featured in this article?

If in the Chicago area you can find our handmade jewelry in the National Museum of Mexican Arts gift shop.
My wearable art can be found & purchased online at www.angmirdesigns.etsy.com
FB:  angmirdesigns
Instagram:  AngMir
Please stay tuned for our Frida Tribute show coming up in the summer.

Community survey results: What it means to be Xicanx today

A few weeks ago Xica Nation placed a nationwide call for Xicanx art, photos and poetry that addresses the theme of what it means to be Xicanx today.  Here are the results, categorized by visual and written arts.

Scroll down to view the entire collection or click on an image to view the gallery.

Parental advisory: Some artwork may depict nudity.

Visual

Video

Black Dream Place
Luis Valderas

Written/poetry

[su_accordion]
[su_spoiler title=” Who are the Xicanos?” style=”fancy”]
Who are the Xicanos?
Andres Peinado Jr.

* We are the lost Aztec children of Aztlan, living in the occupied land that birth our nation.
* We are “La Gente del Quinto Sol” called by our Creator to go back into our communities, barrios, and colonias to serve the oppresed and the marginalized victims of our divided society.
* We are the ones who take the spray paint can from the hands of the child, and encourage him to express his heart on canvas, instead of defacing the walls of our community. We are the ones who nurture their dreams and whisper to them “Tu mijo vas a ser un Artista…”
* We are the ones who walked into the institutions of higher learning, ashamed of our accents our heritage and our identity wanting to be called Andy instead of Andres, Tommy instead of Tomas, and Mary instead of Maria, until we awaken to the beauty of our heritage and reclaim our identity as part of La Raza Cosmica.
* We are the grandsons, and granddaughters who have never heard the wisdom of our abuelitos, their dichos, cuentos and consejos because our language has been stripped away in the name of assimilation.
* We are the fathers and mothers raising our children in the concrete jungles of Aztlan, with the inquisitive child who goes about the surface of every patch of grass collecting grasshoppers and crickets in mayonnaise jars and attentively admires the miracle of life.
* We are the Tios and Tias who clap earnestly at our backyard barbecues as our sobrinas dance to the rhythm of cumbias to the songs of Selena, hoping one day they will be the next Eva Longoria or Selma Hayek.
* We are the ones who reach out to the youth of the community. We are the ones who rescue our children from the hands of the cartels, the violence and perils of barrio street gangs, and refocus our young child warriors to pursue their destiny; empowering them to rise above the adversities and trials of life.
* We are the hands and feet of the Nation of Aztlan, living out our faith in a world filled with confusion, we are the living embodiment of the spirit of Cesar Chavez whose voice like a mythical humming bird whispers to our souls… “Si se Puede.”
[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=” Dear Brown Girl” style=”fancy”]
Dear Brown Girl
Daniela Jaime

Dear brown Girl,

We are “It’s too dark for you to be out”
“Wear longer shorts, the neighbors will stare”

We are
Stuck in gentrified neighborhoods,
middle aged men with
Tank Tops and beer bellies
will stare from front porches like you’re the chihuahua you walk,
B/c
“Damn Mami, would I love to taste your spices”

We hold lips on our ever tan faces,
With the corners darker than the center

Just like our history.

We are:
So thick, Brown Girl is hypersexualized,
But when so thin
“Are even a real Brown Girl?”
Only given recognition when your biggest asset is your ass,
Sass,
But never class.

We are,
So brown, “do you even tan?”
No I crisp, now give me the sunblock little ‘Miss Mayo 2016’

Taught from early Ages that your brown doesn’t go well with life

Too brown from Neon shirts,
You just look browner

Too brown for makeup:

Quick: WOULD RATHER LOOK LIKE TOO BURNT TOAST OR VANILLA ICE-CREAM IN A CARAMEL CRUNCH CONTAINER?!
THERE IS NO IN-BETWEEN.

Too brown for hoodies and loose jeans,
Would you rather look like a decent human being or a target.

Too brown to be beautiful.

Eyes always boring brown- But Emma Watson’s are sooo mesmerizing

Nose too big- but on Blake Lively it’s cute.

Hair too thick-
But Cara Delevingne has more in one brow than you do in two.

Thighs too thick- but #WhiteGirlsWinning…?
When were they ever losing?

When were blue eyes bad?
They’ve been so good
Colonizers managed to convince my ancestors their descendants looked better in blue,
Even if it happened through rape.

But,
Dear Brown Girl,
Learn to admire your sisters beauty without questioning your own.

You are beauty
You are strength.
Flowers grow through you like earth,
You might see this ground as dirt,
Like the color of your eyes,
But all I see is life.
Like what’s in your eyes.

Dear Brown Girl,
You are a force to be reckoned with-

Your skin is no crime,
Need for no punishment.

You’re skin is rich in pigment,
like the Art hung in the Museums
That Miss Mayo 2016 payed $25 to visit

Let the dark corners of your mouth
Serve to remind everyone
Of the dark corners they tried to push you into

Let your thick hair grow out like roses in a white man’s world;
They can only add character to the weed filled garden that is his home.
[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=” When They Disguised The Virgin Mary With Indigenous Strings ” style=”fancy”]
When They Disguised The Virgin Mary With Indigenous Strings
Eduardo Velasquez

Skin is a curse,
The color of earth,
Labeled as gang related,
My pride you have took,
Nervous glances,
I’m not invited to dances,
Balls, Gowns, Sadies, and even Swing Dances

My line is thick like oil,
I spring like a coil,
I’m targeted where lightning strikes, your personal coil,
America’s foil,
My image is soiled,
My face is calm waters, below I do boil

To anoint my pen, I bled out like rain,
I’m sacrificing my life, so we may rise again,
The coming of gods, the coming of kings,
We disguised the Virgin Mary with Indigenous Strings.
[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=” Affirmative Action Agony” style=”fancy”]
Affirmative Action Agony
Eloisa Perez-Lozano

“Woman of color.”

Does that mean me?
The scholarship application says so,
but which color am I?
Chocolate?
Caramel?
Cappuccino?
Café con leche?

That’s not a box I think I can check.
Can I really claim to be a “woman of color”
if my own is only one shade darker than
the default white we’re all measured against?

My last name, however, confirms my minority status,
the hyphen merging both names into one
for Americans who aren’t familiar with
the Mexican custom of having two last names.

But when I sent in my application,
I asked, “Aren’t these scholarships for poor kids?”

“No, it’s for anyone with Mexican parents,”
my dad answered.

But I kept thinking:
Did I take someone else’s spot?

Maybe there should be one more box to check,
a declaration for some and a deterrent for people like me:

“I am eligible for this scholarship because I have
survived the stereotyped struggles of my race.”

I definitely couldn’t have checked it,
but maybe then I would felt better not applying.

I wouldn’t have felt that my middle class-ness
should have disqualified me, despite hard-earned grades.

I wouldn’t have felt the tug-of-war between head and heart,
wanting the assistance yet doubting whether others needed it more.

I wouldn’t have felt the heat of shame that comes from
feeling unworthy, deceitful, an imposter

A white wolf in brown sheep’s clothing,
hunting for a prize I don’t think I deserve.
[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=” i am la frontera” style=”fancy”]
i am la frontera
Ernesto Ricardo Rafael Torres

El Paso, la frontera

I am a queer, bilingual, catholic, xicanx.
Me persigno en falda y barba.
I’ve been quartered,
split down the middle by mountains,
and in half by an ugly reja, my cicatriz,
like the fifth wound of Jesus.

Though my head is in the U.S,
my feet, mis raíces are en México.
I am la frontera.
I am the color of untouched desert,
ruddy with the blood of the antepasados.
My family crossed the river more times than it coursed off.
Am I 1st generation?
2nd generation?
1 and a half?

I speak Spanish like a norteño,
and in English, se me sale el taco.
I used to prune back the nopales growing en mi frente,
now I wear proudly my corona de tunas.

From UTEP’s ivory tower I see the colonias,
mimic the Juraense topography.
Everything in México has color!
Las colonias, los mercados, los murales: “¡NI UNA MÁS!”

I am so disconnected from my tierra,
and I miss a patria that I can’t claim.
I am El Paso.
I am Heroica Ciudad Juárez.
I am la frontera.

[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=” Luna Xicana” style=”fancy”]
Luna Xicana
Janet Gonzalez

“Ni de aqui, ni de allá” we howl
As they pull us into
Opposite sides of la frontera
Tugging at our bodies
Like we’re made of elastic
Demanding us to conform
But their aggression bleeds us dry

We see the anger in their eyes
When they glare in our direction
They call us, las lobas
Because we gain our power
From the moon
[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=” My Name Is All You See ” style=”fancy”]
My Name Is All You See
John Hernandez

It doesn’t matter to you that my name has a story in this land, a history.
That my name was indigenous to this place before it was a country.
That my name has helped build all that you see, this democracy.
My name has worked the fields, tended the cattle, paved the roads, layed the foundations, manufactured the automobiles and contributed to society.
My name has educated the children, cared for the elderly, rescued the victim, defended the boarders and bled for the ideals of liberty.
My name has been a part of the club, graduated with honors, gone for the gold, dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.
My name has paid it’s dues, towed the line, pitched in, lent a helping hand and turned the other cheek.
My name believes in this country, this concept of land of the free…
But no matter how hard it try’s…
No matter it’s dedication, sacrifice, it’s quest for liberty…
you do not see me.
If it’s lucky you see your gardener, your waiter, your dishwasher or your nanny.
Cheap labor, someone to stock your shelves, build your home, wash your car and mow your lawn.
But more than likely you see an illegal, someone who doesn’t belong.
A criminal, a gang banger, a thief, a dealer, a junky, a welfare queen…
a burden on society.
You see your own misconceptions.
You see your own assumptions.
You see your own stigmas of who you want me to be…
never once seeing me.
I want you to see me…
not just my name.
I want you to consider me…
not just your stigmas, assumptions or misconceptions.
I want you to see acceptance when looking at me.
My name is American, the same as yours and I want you to see you when looking at me.
[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=” la hija indígena” style=”fancy”]
la hija indígena
Kimberly Rendon

Be ready by 8:00 AM
I remind myself.
Rise and shine,
Greet the day,
say hello to the Sun…

But I keep denying
my awake state
and lose myself
to my dream life.
There’s no motivation
to lift my spirits
as I see the world in chaos.

Each day a waiting game
with defeat.

It’s as if my body
remains on the sidelines
or is too slow to catch up
to my imagination.

I stay rooted in dreams
because my ancestry was denied sleep:
too busy tending the home,
carrying the workload.

I inherited insomnia,
constantly sleepwalking
through a minefield
of insecurities.
While I sail toward artificial light
I distract myself
in a diamond prism.
Hoping for a pristine existence
but it swallows my name
and regurgitates
acquired expectations.

I’m expected
to assimilate,
be another lost cause,
failed by the system.

My family carries
fragments of
the American Dream
heavy on their body
unable to bare the weight of expectations
or maintain the white picket fence.

In our attempt to survive
We have become displaced.
Strangers to familiar territory.
We suffer in silence,
our identities hidden.

They try to make sense
of the exploitation and oppression
and continue their journey with guilt,
as if,
it their our fault.

Unaware, the pain
of chasing expectations
causes failure-
their growth paralyzed,
never reaching heights
foretold by ancestors.

So the ache is ceded
in future generations
burdened with abandoned identities.

Daughter.
I decipher
the lost codex,
reconnect to a memory
of an identity
slowly erasing generationally.

I awake.
To reclaim, reshape,
my existence in resistance.

Unafraid to proclaim
Xicanx.

Say it loud.
Para no olvidar.

Yo soy la Hija Indígena!
[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=” Today’s Chicanx Warriors ” style=”fancy”]
Today’s Chicanx Warriors
Luz Magdaleno Flores

Ni muy acá, ni muy allá
Always caught in between

Somos punk, [email protected], [email protected] y siempre con ganas de desmadrar
Our passionate hearts move our two left feet to its beat

United we stand with her, him, and they
“El Barrio Unido Jamás Será Vencido!”

Being chicanx is a beautiful struggle
Ser vosotros es una buen chinga

We are angry yet proud of how hardworking our parents are
A mi mami le duelen sus pies y mi padre no es feliz pero siguen echándole ganas

Con converse y eyeliner negro vamos a misa a rezarle a nuestra señora morenita
In the night with the moons blessing we light our candles in hopes of liberation

No somos fácil de entender
Planting seeds in unknown lands

We drink whiskey and mezcal
Tranquilos después de tanto luchar

[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=” Cuento de Mexico” style=”fancy”]
Cuento de Mexico
Maleny Crespo

No es el cuento de los hombres
No es el cuento de los gueros
No es el cuento mio
No es el cuento de nosotros
Es el cuento de las mujeres de Mexico
Es el cuento de todos que son joven
Sus bebes que son
De la tierra de oro
Que corren con polvo del dinero
Abajo de sus pies
Enfrente la verdad
De su valor
Cabeza de deseos
Las montanas en sus hombros
Sangre mas puro
Que alguno maldita promesa de riqueza
No es el cuento de los hombres
No el cuento de los gueros
No es el cuento mio
No es el cuento de nosotros
Para atras voces de hombre
Para atras voces de gueros
Para atras orgullo de los extranjeros
Esta cuento no es tuyo
Es el cuento de los reinas
Es el cuento de los reyes
Es el cuento de Oaxaca oro
Es el cuento de la tierra del sol
Es el cuento de Mexico

[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=” Geographic Dreaming” style=”fancy”]
Geographic Dreaming
Odilia Galván Rodríguez

Dreams of place to call our own
one where we are at home
in our melding of ancestor cultures

Of razas who never left us
who refused to melt away
in that pressure cooker pot

Which has become the way
in these lands called US of America
a place for all, but for no one different

You must fit their mold
complete with Indo-European looks
what their hate speech spewed down

In all the papers and books
of what is Supreme
what they’ve built this system

On the backs of our world

But this is about what it means
to be me, a woman of that Raza Cosmica
who is Chicana proud despite all the years

Of not fitting Here nor There
knowing we were something new
a mezcla to embrace

Holding my head high
teaching the young ones
to be one-hundred percent

Proud of all of who we are
birthing that nation of ours
together with them
[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”WE” style=”fancy”]
WE
Paul Aponte

The true expression of enlightenment
comes in a dream
of a morning
shining on our universe.

Waking, stretching out to the sky,
and accepting the gift.
Willingly letting the brightness through.

Even the serpent is in awe,
and the plant leaves bloom.
The vase proudly displays its indigenous roots.
The clouds part,
and the sky clears,
and we can see again
as you and I bless the cosmos
to be all as it should.
[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=” Xingonas’ Letter to Our Hombres and the Patriarchy” style=”fancy”]
Xingonas’ Letter to Our Hombres and the Patriarchy
Rocio Evelin Carranza Jacinto

We hold the wisdom of our ancestors
Embody their love through our Spirit
You chose to follow the oppressor by suppressing the burning of emotions through your flesh
We chose to embrace those burning emotions through our breasts
You claim to be above misogyny with your whispers of loving promises
But your actions whisper the truth
Your actions shout machismo and we can longer hold onto to you
So we break our promises and you leave seeming unbothered about this wreckage
We leave with both of our emotional baggage
And within us, you see the pounds of pain we carry
You see it in our swollen eyelids.
In our blood shot eyes.
And in our endless sorrow.
You see us as weak.
You think that you have conquered our heart, our mind, our body, and soul.
And you may have for this very instant of grief…
But we carry 500+ years of resilience
And filling your absence will not be the battle we lose to.
Because we have one thing you lost along the way…
Community.
We ground ourselves in each other while you are lost in a sea of individualism
Becoming the puppet of the colonizer.
Now your soul roams lifeless through this land,
And ours begins to coexist within this soil.
Because we chose to feel the weight of grief for the both of us,
While you denied your soul healing and found refuge in a bottle of liquor.
And so we are Guerreras today, yesterday, and continue to be tomorrow
We will be Guerreras for the both of us,
Until you decide to liberate your being from the White men’s example.
We do not fear tears because we are surrounded by Guerreras.
And loved by our Ancestors.
And for now that is truly enough for Xingona revolutionary love.
[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=” Réquiem para un nombre esclavo” style=”fancy”]
Réquiem para un nombre esclavo
Samantha Marie Haynes

Mi nombre se siente como un cañón atado a mi tobillo.
Un recuerdo del pasado de mi familia.
Quiero lavarme el nombre del cuerpo…
De todos los pensamientos de mi boca.
De todos los trozos de papel…

Quiero darme un nuevo nombre…
El nombre de sangre,
Un nombre que les dé miedo a los conquistadores.
Quiero un nombre que atemorice a los hombres
Y les advierta que los aplastaré si intentan de despellejarme.

Mi nombre
Es un recuerdo del pasado,
La memoria de la horrible llegada,
De la tristeza y la confusión, la traición y el vigor que
se sirvieron al lado de las margaritas mezcladas con la viruela.

Isata,
Ahora serás llamada Sambo.
Isata,
Ahora serás llamada Chichi Mama.
Ellos le dirán que este nombre vale la pena de confiarse a ellos…
Pero no.
Intercambiar un idioma de la tierra de los Aborrecedores por otro
No borra el dolor que siente tu abuela,
No podrán borrar la confusión que siente tu abuela.

Se estrangulan de amargura cuando
Las personas no saben de dónde viniste porque su
Nombre no tiene el sonido que tus antepasados hacían cuando
Gritaban en sueños.

Un nombre
¿Qué hay en un nombre?
Isata, no es tu nombre real y nunca lo será.
Es mejor que nos llamen con algo que nos trae recuerdos amargos,
Que te aferres a una cultura, a un lugar, en un país, en un continente de donde fuiste arrancada
Y nunca vas a conocerlo.
Estás atrapada en una isla destinada a los que no son como tú.
Robado.
Viven en tierras robadas con su cuerpo robado.
Deberías aferrarte a tu útero antes de que te roben también.
Isata,
No te llames así.
Reconoce que no te conoces a ti misma.
Reconoce que nunca lo sabrás.
Reconoce que no te importaba tres pepinos porque
mami, estás aquí ahora mismo.

Sambo,
Chichi Mama,
S-A-M-A en la arena:
Respira.
Da un paso lejos de esa computadora.
Sácate la etiqueta de McDonald’s y métela en sus gargantas.
[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=” To Xicanx in the Borderlands Today Means ” style=”fancy”]
To Xicanx in the Borderlands Today Means
Samuel Coronado

You are a key beyond extinction
a transmutation
that survives resists reimagines
life beyond assimilation.

A chance to love difference,
to respond to violence
the way our ancestors did,
the way our children’s children
will too.

We live within and without today,
tomorrow, the ever-resetting
cycle of a time that is itself militarized.

Endlessly, we are fed visions
of the apocalypse.
On every television, mobile screen,
from the heights of every cell tower
mi sagrada tierra
burned, caged, made a stage
for the owner’s of the world’s armies.

Though we despair, we know
more than the fictions we have
been indoctrinated with,
that there is nothing luxurious
or privileged or exclusively white
about loving this earth,
or the many spirits
that walk above it,
that share life with mountains
& waves & plants & stars.

To xicanx in the borderlands today
means you shift
the knowledge of the centuries,
you give more than you take,
you stand on the line
where water becomes fire,
where bullets become flowers.

To this generation it must be clear,
as it has been written,
we are governed by two heads
from the same beast
which feeds from the same trough.

Como the nepantla G. Anzaldúa says,
the world becomes as we dream it.
What lies ahead,
mijitx?

[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=” Barbacoa ” style=”fancy”]
Barbacoa
Saul Hernandez

Barbacoa: 7:45 AM

Through the bottom craters of my door
an uninvited odor comes in. It lingers on my nose
awakening my mind and belly. It provokes
them to wrestle.

My head pleads me to remember
abuelo and the cabrito.

My famished stomach tells me to taste the meat
of a dead animal I once saw slaughtered
before my child eyes.

The mirror stands before me.
It can read my worries
on my face.
Barbacoa: 8:15 AM

The smell enchants me. I close my eyes.
I see what I’ve stored in the back
of my head, files. I wish I had not seen,

the creatures eyes roll back
light in them gone.
Abuelo telling me,
“no lo veas morir, si te sientes triste
el animal no muere en paz.”

His head rest on the pomegranate grass
the wind brushes his coat. It picks up
milk dew weed flurries, taking flight
towards the mourning sky.

In my room. I stand. In front of the mirror
I look at my repulsive reflection. I see
his tongue cradled, on the side of his mouth

it sleeps.
Barbacoa 8:25 AM

The smell of barbacoa turns my head. Away
from the mirror a dust cloud of odor demands to be inhaled,
it begins to take shape. In my room
the cabrito now stands. Parallel to me
he opens his mouth. No words come out.
He is missing his tongue. He begins to prance
around my room.

El ritmo de sus pezuñas me invitan a bailar
One, two, three. Uno, dos, tres. One, two, three.
We are the wind in my room. Spinning
levantamos polvo de libros cerrados,
de tierra debajo de mi cama,
debris from the corners of my room.

I open my baby eyes. Coming to a halt
nos miramos como viejos amores.
I open my mouth and he jumps at me

caemos. Con la paciencia
que tienen las hojas de otoño hacia el piso.
I inhale the smell and I close my eyes.

Empiezo a correr. Con mis cuatro patas,
stomping the ground picking up dirt and debris
on a hot summer day. I am free
to roam my land.
Barbacoa: El Origen del Cabrito

No tengo fronteras. Puedo tocar el crepúsculo
de esquina a esquina. No tengo temor por mi vida.
No estoy fuera de mi lugar.
Esta es mi tierra. No hay limitaciones
que me impiden ser restringido.

Como de mi tierra,
mi panza esta hecha de paja y plantas.
Tomo de la lluvia cuando el cielo llora.
Cuando las luciérnagas salen a jugar
me acuesto en mi cama. Descanso
mi lengua para poder hablar con mi tierra otro día.
En veces sueño. Aspiraciones lentas con el aliento

del aire que me levantan hasta las montañas, desde arriba
vuelo por las tierras en busca de mis hermanos y hermanas,
que fueron levantados, por las manos del hombre.
Miedo se apodera de mí, me dice que corra
a otras tierras antes que vengan por mí.
Baa, baa, no quiero ese destino para mí.
Barbacoa: Tomado por El Hombre

Pero el hombre de otras tierras sabe tomar
su oportunidad cuando uno duerme.
Baa, baa, baa! Es muy tarde. Amarrada
mi boca y lengua ya no son unas arma.
Son desventaja a donde me llevan.
Prenden una máquina, empieza a caminar despacio
luego corre como cuando yo era

libre. De las realidades del mundo.
Ojos con sueños olvidados, ven
la luz saliendo del arroyo donde tomaba agua.
Por última vez veo la paz
de mi hogar—
la tierra sin fronteras.
Barbacoa: Encadenado

Ahora soy prisionero. En otras tierras desconocidas
de mi pescuezo estoy detenido con raíces de árboles.
Muerdo y muerdo y no se rompen
estas raíces. Pesan, es una carga
para poder comer,
Para poder dormir,
para poder soñar.

Mi reflejo en agua contaminada distinto
a mi ser. No soy ese.
Antier otro. Hoy soy invierno
en este campo podrido.
Barbacoa: Carga el Aire

El amanecer no es igual, por el viento
se oyen voces cargadas
con dolor.

Voces con sueños.
Voces que le pegan a mi alma desamparada.
Voces que ya no entiendo.
Voces que me pierden por el florecer de plantas dando vida,
por el verano que seca mi boca,
y por el otoño caprichoso que quita vida.

Sobre los cerros mis pupilas siguen el aire. Al campo libre
me recuerda que mi vida es un ciclo
guiado por el sol y la luna,
que me dicen a que hora como,
a que hora camino,
a que hora puedo beber,
a que hora puedo hablar.
Y a que hora debo dormir.

Campo libre, pies engatusados.

Barbacoa: Revelaciones

El hombre, todo poderoso se presenta. En frente de mi
y me da su mano. Como un acto de paz
le quita la raíz a la cerca
que me detiene de cruzar otras fronteras.
Toma la raíz de mi pescuezo y me guía.
Caminamos juntos los dos,
lado a lado sobre el campo libre. El aire me abraza,
me invita a recordar momentos de gloria.
Los rayos del sol están escapándose lentamente. Sobre las nubes
salen y me dan besos como agua del estanque.

El hombre me lleva al campo. Desconocido
veo a una criatura. Parecido a la imagen del hombre.
Nuestras miradas se conectan. Siento miedo,
por los dos.

Cierro mis ojos. Recuerdo que soy un cabrito—
tengo cuatro pesuñas,
tienen ansias por volver a vivir.
Baa, baa!
Tengo derecho a correr,
a gritar sobre el cerro más grande,
pero sobre todo
el derecho a que mi cabeza cansada, caiga—
picada y en bañada,
para volver a soñar.
Barbacoa: 8:25 AM

Abro mis ojos reencarnados. Adolorido me levanto
con mis dos piernas. Me pongo de pie y me miro en el espejo,
my reflection suggest nothing has changed
my mind disagrees.

Mi reflo me recuerda que
sus ojos me los comí con mi mirada.
Yo estuve enfrente del cabrito. No use palabras.

My hands reach for my neck,
I examine the creases in search
for signs of encadenamiento. No trace is left.
Abro mi boca.
My tongue is in place.

Barbacoa: 8:30 AM

Salgo de mis cuatro paredes
doy pasos ligeros. Down the hallway
leading to the staircase I follow the smell.
But, how will I tell my family?
Es que, no me van a comprender.

Bajo sobre las espaldas de huesos ancianos
pensando en mis ancestros. If,
they ever had the courage to lash their tongue
at their own blood. Over the table across the food
of foreign lands.
Barbacoa: Sueña Again

I sit down at the table. Overlooking my mother
I land my hands on my mouth, con los ojos
de cabro veo las tiras de carne,
I begin to quake. The table set,

my stomach empty. My mouth
an estanque of water. It is full,
ready for the cabrito to drink.
The cabrito rests on my tortilla.
I shower him with salt and salsa,
I take him in my mouth.

I look at my reflection in the plate.
Mi lengua iba a mirar a todos en los ojos
les iba a contar la historia del cabrito
que soñaba. Libre de conformar
con lo que ellos pedían,
libre de tomar su propio destino,
en un lugar indocumentado.

Pero, in a house of silence,
we have not learned
to open our mouths,
dejar la lengua caer hasta el piso
desarrollando palabras
moving mountains,
moving rivers,
moving skies,
moving me. Out of fear.
Yet—

I can dream.
[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”3.” style=”fancy”]
3.
Silverio Pelayo Jr.

Your Story
is a snake
That sheds
The death
Of deception
It is a lightning bolt
Fashioned
From the golden fibers
That thread
The infinite sky
Of your heart
It is a fire
Carried on the wings
Of hawks vision
Set ablaze
The dawning
Of a new day

www.silveriopelayo.wordpress.com
[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”Talahalusi: In this Paradise” style=”fancy”]
Talahalusi: In this Paradise
Xulio Soriano

Every year I climb this hill
pressed against the breasts
of Mayacamas and Vaca ranges;
caressed by breeze that flows amidst them.

Every year I step on this mound
hoping no bones lay here to be disturbed;
that buried spears and arrowheads
will not pierce my feet in retaliation;
that coyote’s ground is not intruded
nor crow’s sky transgressed.

Every time I climb this earth
I see the force that combed the the hillsides
and uprooted grandmother oak,
and proliferated red bumps
that oxidized native bronze skin
made as velvet and painful as
redskin scalps attached to
twitching, horse-thick black hair.

Fractal, equidistant scars line the mountains.
I think of the cornrows on your head
and the corn fields that my poppa abandoned.

Our paths are intertwined.

Just as you carry rows of maize on you
with braided mathematical precision
accurate as my abuelito’s Mayan calendar,
I carry the heartbeat of your African drum
in the night salsa that
shakes Downtown Napa
and the unauthorized cumbia
that spills uncontrollably into the neighborhood
like the flood of candy broken from
saturday 5pm piñatas
at Kennedy Park.

Sometimes I don’t belong.

My family walked across borders–
indigenous farmworkers uncomfortable
in our own brown skin:
Guests on Wappo soil;
cousins to First Nations.

Your family was shipped across oceans in shackles
or perhaps had sailed here long before.

Your bodies the currency–
your scarred backs–
risk management–
a noose on your necks–
their capital loss at a gain.

Our people’s land the real estate–
our blood the fertilizer
that built this place we
eagerly want to set roots in
yet can’t call home.

I’m stuck between a world that is not mine
and land that belongs to all of us.

Coyote howls.
I must return.
White-tailed kite swoops down.
Wild radish blooms.

[/su_spoiler]
[/su_accordion]

Tlahtolli: Interview with Xicanx artist Jake Prendez

Today we welcome Jake Prendez, Xicanx artist and community organizer to Xica Nation!

884162_ebf447afb6d14e739b1d72f41679e116
Please support Jake’s art and upcoming NALAC summit by purchasing Tshirts and prints here: http://www.jakeprendez.com/#!shop/c23wy

Jake is a longtime advocate for youth empowerment and a renown visual artist whose work focuses on Chicana/o culture, activism, social justice, as well as pop culture and satire.   His artistic style ranges from indigenous influence, social realism, tattoo/rockabilly aesthetics, to colorful urban style art.  Jake is also a founding member of Puro Pedo Magazine, a satirical magazine for Xicanx activists that had generations of MEChA members laughing while addressing critical social issues of the time.

Recently, Jake was also selected to participate in the NALAC (National Association of Latino Arts and Culture) Leadership Institute in San Antonio in July.

How did your journey as an artist begin? 

I was drawing as early as I can remember. I use to love getting those Disney and Dr. Seuss books in the mail as a kid. I use to drag out big stacks of books and stare at the pictures. My parents thought I was going to be a big reader but I just loved all the artwork.  By elementary, art became the only subject I excelled at.  It was my one refuge in school.  By High school I was drawing lowriders, cholos and pachucos.  I was told my art was just gangster art and had no value. I tried to study art in college but again it was shunned as too niche. I was so discourage that I gave up art for over 10 years. I didn’t rediscover art till I was working on my masters and took a painting class within Chicana/o Studies taught by Yreina Cervantez.  That is when I decided to throw myself into my art and 8 years later I’m still at it and growing every day.

Click on an image to view.  To purchase a print, click here.

What types of subject matter do you produce art about?  

When I started painting, I painted for myself. If I wanted a painting of the beatles, I’d paint the beatles. If I wanted a painting of Zapata, I’d paint Zapata.  I think as I developed as an artist so did my imagination. I began to paint concepts and emotions vs “celebrities”.  My art is just an amalgamation of my life and experiences. My art is my childhood, my family, my friends, my crushes, heartbreak, loneliness, depression, Los Angeles, Seattle, tattoos, rockabilly style, pop culture, pachucos and vintage culture, the 80’s, indigenismo, Mexico, chicana/o studies, leftist politics, satire, and jokes all put in a blender and poured out onto a canvas.

Why did you choose this genre? 

My art is a reflection of myself. To know my art to understand my art is to understand me. I just try to be myself in my art. Like they say be yourself. Everyone else is taken.

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Your recent work highlights complex themes of identity and decolonization.  Could you tell us more about why you chose to explore that theme and it’s importance?

I think a lot of my recent work started off with a simple question about how we look at ourselves and relate to our ancestors.  I was intrigued by the concept of genetic memory.  I am the hands, the eyelashes, the laugh, the song of my ancestors.  The Genetic memory paintings we about relating to that and how we are the flower to their seeds.  The Cultural Resilience series was in reference to when folks speak of the Aztecs or mayans as extinct people.  Indigenous people still exist. And like genetic memory our culture survives in our songs, our cooking, in the ways we raise our children and the ways we dance. We never left. The contemporary codices series started with the question…if we were still doing codices what would they look like? I began to draw the people in mi barrio is a codex style and capture the history that we are making today.

Click on an image to view.  To purchase a T-shirt or print, click here.

When did you decide to follow your calling as an artist?

While I was working on my masters I was tested and diagnosed with Dylsexia. This explained my struggles in school at a young age. After the tests were complete they brought me a chart showing my scores. I scored in the brilliant range in the area that was designated for creativity, speech and problem solving.  But in the area that was designated for Math and the sort I was on the cusp of below average. They said when they see two points that far apart they know something isn’t working right in the brain and is the first sign of dyslexia and other learning disorders.  That was the moment I realized there are going to be things that I will struggle with. But there things that I am talented at and why not focus on my talents and my passions. That is when I decided to throw myself into my art.

Were there doubts and obstacles you encountered on your journey?

One of my biggest obstacles was believing in myself and giving myself a voice.  From a very young age I was constantly put down at school.  I was told by a high school teacher that I would be shot and killed before I would ever graduate.  Today I focus much of my time working with youth and empowering them to use art as a means of self-expression.

When did you feel affirmed in your camino, that you were really onto something by producing this line of art?

I’ve spent my whole life under the radar. I felt like the most average kid in the world.  I never had a teacher or a professor take to me. When It came to girls in school I was always the Duckie to the Andee (Pretty in Pink reference). I just sort of did my thing and existed.  To tell you the truth I don’t know if I feel like I’m even there yet. I think people like my art but I think I’m still flying under everyone’s radar. I’ve never received an award, grant or even a solo show. I think I just want to be something my kids will be proud of when I pass. I want to live on through my art long after my last breath.

Why do you feel that artistically documenting your experiences was important to do? 

Maybe it goes back my fear of being forgotten. I want to tell my story. I want my descendants to know I was once here. I think there is great importance in authenticity. Our story needs to be told by us and not reported to us by others not in our community.

Click on an image to view.  To purchase a print, click here.

What messages (if any) are you aiming to share through these works and to what communities?

I want to make my family and community proud.  This is all for them.

Any special links/announcements about upcoming events or other projects you’re involved in?

www.jakeprendez.com and Jake Prendez on facebook, Instagram, tumblr and twitter

**********

Please support Jake’s art and upcoming NALAC summit by purchasing T-shirts and prints here: http://www.jakeprendez.com/#!shop/c23wy

 

Journey of a rascuacha tech: from the barrio to the world

By Iris Rodriguez, founder and editor of Xica Nation

rascuacha tech 486x60 jpg

For the past thirteen years, I have had the privilege of working with Tejanx, Xicanx, and Mexicanx communities across the U.S. as a “rascuacha tech” helping folks assert digital power for social justice and autonomy.  During this time, I have witnessed the suffering of our gente and our communities on different fronts…while learning the ins and outs of engaging in “digital resistance” for the purpose of seeking justice and establishing autonomy.  I’ve collaborated in digital resistance projects that have penetrated high security Texas prison cells and have gone as far as being displayed in the halls of the United Nations.

But I was not always awake or conscious of self and community.  And although computers arrived on the scene when I was relatively young, my story begins in the land before the internet.

San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas

During the day I was a normal 80s kid and Xicanita living in San Antonio.  I was born a short distance from the headwaters of the Yanaguana and grew up in the barrios along the slithery back of Culebra Road as it makes its way from the “Northwest” side into the mero Westside.  I went to schools named after dead confederate soldiers where confederate flags would get pinned on us when we would make honor roll.  Like most of my people in San Anto and across the land, growing up a white blindfold was placed over my eyes.

I come from the land before the home computer, part of the last generation to have been born unplugged and off the internet.  I come from the land before cell phones and pagers, back when we used to write and send letters by U.S. mail.  I remember when computers first hit the stores…and when the internet (dial-up) first made it’s way across the U.S.

635563239386010139-Screen-Shot-2015-01-08-at-2.02.41-PM
Oregon Trail game

I remember when my elementary school won a big grant and was awarded a computer classroom set sometime in the mid 80s.  They were Apple computers and were very big and clunky, with “floppy” disk drives.  My first grade classroom full of little brown kids were taught the computer by learning to play Oregon Trail, a role-playing (specifically, white folk role-playing) game where we were assigned different characters within a white pioneer family on a caravan across the wild west.  The object of the game was not to get killed along the way to your final destination by hunger, disease, or an “indian raid.”

In 1990, when I was ten years old, we got our first computer, the IBM PS/1.  We didn’t have A/C.  We didn’t have cable.  We didn’t have “wireless” landline phones (the latest in phone technology at the time.)  But all of a sudden we now had a computer and a “dial-up” connection to something called “the internet” that required no one in the house use the phone line at the same time the computer was online.  And with this, my little brown barrio mind exploded as I directly connected with people on the other side of the planet straight from our hot-as-heck Texas car garage/office on the west side.  My life would never be the same.

It was not until much later in life that I would realize the importance of the computer skills I had learned as a kid.  At age 22, I inadvertently became involved in a major contamination case out in the Rio Grande Valley known as the “Xicano birthplace of Monsanto,” located in Mission, Texas.   After hearing from several community folks talk about their situation and touring the locations, I felt desperate to take action, to somehow support the community’s campaign.  I had no idea what I was doing.  But the situation moved my heart and my instinct told me to act.  So in spite of being a working-poor university student, I figured I could offer up some very basic tech knowledge to help.

We eventually collaboratively built a powerful and independent multimedia production house and public archive around the Mission case that garnered worldwide attention and 50k hits a month in the time before social media.  Settlement offers in the class action lawsuit against the 30+ chemical corporations involved in Mission began to rise and all of a sudden the community found itself with a space where they had the power of dictating their own narrative publicly after decades of government and media silence.

This was the first in a series of social justice movements I would take part in for the next 13 years.  I began to I realized that the tech knowledge I had as part of the digital generation could be applied to protect and heal.  It could also be used as a weapon of self defense, by serving to construct the digital war fronts of community-led social justice movements on the ground.

Last year, after dealing with the horrific family detention issue, seeing the Obama administration terrorize my community with immigration raids, seeing the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and pinche Donald Trump and the rise of his (and other) wasichu death eaters spread hate and destruction across our communities and Mother Earth, I said YA BASTA.  Folks from different communities were contacting me to help them on different issues…but I couldn’t always volunteer like I wanted to.  I reached a point where I didn’t feel right keeping the knowledge of digital resistance to myself because of the tremendous power and impact this work can have on entire communities.

Rascuacha Tech by Iris Rodriguez
Rascuacha Tech by Iris Rodriguez

I decided to write Rascuacha Tech: Digital Resistance for Social Justice and Autonomy and document my thirteen-year journey through the digital world, where I have served as an organizer, multimedia producer, and digital resistance warrior in community-led campaigns on issues including environmental justice, family detention, decolonization, cultural arts, guerrilla media, Xicanisma, and public archives.

My vision for Rascuacha Tech is to assist communities of color in the U.S. who have mobilized to assert autonomy and demand justice, specifically those who experience ongoing trauma, lack of economic resources, media blackout, backlash from the non-profit industrial complex, technological divides, and other communication barriers.

My lens is radical and based on my experience as an 80s kid and rowdy Xicana from Texas.  What I offer is not an end-all solution or social-justice-in-a-box.  But I do offer stories, opinions, recurring themes, and lessons learned from my digital warpath that I hope will help community-led movements for justice and autonomy.

After thirteen years, I now run several “digital resistance” networks (including Xica Nation) through my main umbrella network, Xica Media.  And in true rascuacha tech style, I self-published Rascuacha Tech through another project, Xicana Chronicles.

Rascuacha Tech is now available for purchase and comes in ebook and print formats.

2

1.6

Here is a quick snapshot of the chapter listing:

PART I: DEFINITIONS
Chapter 1: Defining digital resistance
Chapter 2: Defining rascuacha tech

PART II: REFLECTIONS
Chapter 3: Birth of a digital warrior
Chapter 4: The spiritual journey
Chapter 5: Spiritual elements of the virtual world

PART III: INSIDE THE MACHINE
Chapter 6: How to construct a digital war front
Chapter 7: Traffic and quality control

PART IV: THINGS TO CONSIDER
Chapter 8: Potential obstacles
Chapter 9: Self-care as resistance

Stepping out from behind the screen to share this experience has been a humbling process, but one I hope others will be motivated to do.  I am a firm believer that our stories have the power to change the world.  I hope that by documenting my own story and lessons learned on this digital warpath that communities of color in resistance can save time and money as they assert their own digital power.

In the spirit of resistance and love, I offer these flowers of my experience to the world.  These are the virtual arrows of the digital warrior.  They must be used carefully to defend, create, liberate, and heal.


BUY NOW and purchase directly from the maker

*Also see the new Digital Resistance 101 course

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Rascuacha Tech

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Rascuacha Tech

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Xicana Chronicles project trailblazes digital footprints across the world

headerDeep in the heart of Aztlan, a small group of powerful Xicanas are making their voices heard around the world through a digital project called Xicana Chronicles.   

Since it’s launch in July of 2014, Xicana Chronicles has inserted itself into global conversations as an “herstorical archive” documenting the experiences of 21st century indigenous Xicanas.
 
Xicana Chronicles is described as another “Xicana-powered multimedia project” by Xica Media, the umbrella organization and passion project by Iris “Tejaztlana” Rodriguez, a longtime digital activist and Xicana artist from Texas.  Her other digital works include End Family Detention, a trilingual “digital resistance” website making headlines for the Visions From The Inside collaboration with Culture Strike and Mariposas Sin Fronteras.
 
Xicana Chronicles is “a virtual space dedicated to the warrior sisters, hermanas en resistencia, the mamas, the healers, the movers and shakers, las xingonas and yes, the mañosas too.  And through a small but powerful collective of Xicana artists and writers that share words on the site, Xicana Chronicles went viral and global, adding the narrative of indigenous Xicanas to conversations worldwide.  It became part of a virtual codex that can never be burned.”
Joined on the Xicana Chronicles stage by community activists and artists such as Acaxochitl, Celeste De Luna, Noemi Martinez and Viva Flores, the project has reached across unimaginable and vast geographic divides, cultures and linguistic communities
Due to the success of the project, this week Xicana Chronicles launched their first IndieGogo campaign to crowdfund the publication of their inaugural set of 5 e-books.

Editor Iris Rodriguez had this to say:
“Since our launch in July 2014, Xicana Chronicles has blossomed into a virtual, home-based network collectively helping other wombyn warriors document, digitize, publish and share their stories.A lot of the sisters in our community are very powerful but are stuck in the 8-5 grind, working 3-4 jobs to survive, or volunteering in their communities towards positive change while struggling financially.  Many hermanas keep journals, write poetry, do art and document reflections and lessons learned that need to be shared with the world, not kept hidden and stashed away in a journal that can never seem to turn into a book.”
Activist mom, blogger and artist Acaxochitl offered these words about her experience with Xicana Chronicles:   
Writing and sharing my creative works with Xicana Chronicles this last year has shown me that my personal journey can empower Brown women in a direct way.  What I hope to say is an unfiltered view of what it’s like to be Brown, conscious, and living in these times of political strife and racial tensions. Xicana Chronicles has given me courage to speak boldly from the heart.    I am a mother of three and married to an undocumented immigrant. We have our share of struggles as this reality shapes every aspect of our life. For a long time, I felt it best not to speak too openly about our struggle. The stress of it all took its toll on my creative spirit. Through Xicana Chronicles I have found motivation and courage to speak up and to create work that is both healing and inspirational. These are love notes to the universe and to my mixed identity family. Despite our struggle, we are still here, feistier and stronger than before. Xicana Chronicles have given me the tools I need to:

  • Create more positive & spiritually relevant works.
  • Remind the world, that we, the children of the sun, are still here, and thriving.
  • Give voice to those families like mine: Native American and Mexican. Documented and Undocumented.
The following is an excerpt from the Xicana Chronicles IndieGogo campaign page:

“Our individual and collective experiences, the ups, the downs, all those lessons learned, the tales of survival and even the mistakes matter.  We can use that knowledge to avoid repeating mistakes or remaining in danger.  Silence is an enemy.And historically we know all too well what happens when someone else writes our history books.  We remember the burning and banning of our stories in our own ancestral lands.  The loss and silencing of our perspectives and traditional ways has been used as a tool of war against us as “Latinos” and “Hispanics” with indigenous roots in the Americas, and in particular as wombyn.
This project has helped push the conversation about our indigenous roots, experiences and lifeways into the more mainstream “Latino” and “Hispanic” sphere.We also realized we are having a global impact through the almost 20k visitors from 100 countries that have visited our site.  And those numbers keep on growing.
Our stories are being shared and discussed across vast geographic divides, cultures and linguistic communities.  They are having a global impact.The Xicana Chronicles project is as an act of resistance and resilience and WITH YOUR HELP we can continue to share our stories in a global and meaningful way.We need your support to push Xicana Chronicles across the finish line by funding the completion of our first set of FIVE e-books.  
We currently have manuscripts for:

  • two autobiographical, interactive e-books of Xicana experiences across spiritual, physical, political, legal and personal landscapes;
  • a condensed reader and archival compilation of the Mission environmental justice campaign in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas;
  • a compilation of contemporary Xicana Tejana art; and
  • the Xica Media story how about using “rascuacha tech” can save the world.

We are asking for the support and apoyo of our relatives, friends and networks to help us birth this Xicana-powered and produced inaugural collection of 5 e-books.The completion date for this herstorical project is December 2015.

Please donate to Xicana Chronicles today!”

Interview with Celeste De Luna, Xicana artist

celeste
Celeste De Luna, Xicana artist from Texas

Hello and welcome to Xica Nation.  Could you tell us your name, age, nation and how you identify?

Celeste De Luna, 40,  Xicana, I identify myself as an indigenous person of the North American continent, one in the process of trying to decolonize my mind and spirit and that of my family.  The loss is so great that it feels insurmountable sometimes, but I look to my communities for help.

How did your journey as an artist begin?

My journey has had many starts and stops.  As undergraduate art student I had no idea what I was doing, no guidance, no mentors, and limited family support.  In 2003, I met a Chicano artist who was doing a watercolor workshop in the Valley and he invited me to see his gallery in San Antonio.  When I finally got up the nerve to go check it out, I discovered a whole world of Chicano artists that inspired me.   I have been working and showing my work since then and in 2008 received an M.F.A in painting from UT-Pan American.

Why did you choose this genre?

I’ve always felt drawn to political and satirical art, I don’t like spending a lot of time on pieces that are merely aesthetic or have content I’m not interested in.  I say that my art isn’t always pretty, and other people have described it as powerful. I’ll take powerful over pretty anytime.

When did you decide to follow your calling as an artist?

I decided in 2003 that I was going to pursue creating art and there have been many doubts and obstacles in my way, including self-doubt over whether I was just wasting my time and being selfish and balancing art practice, work, and family.  I felt affirmed when I showed a piece at the first Gloria Anzaldua conference art show that I participated in and many women not only understood my work, but thought the content was important.  I realized that my vision was unique and I had something to add to conversation.  Mind you, it was just a small inkling of a voice that stubbornly wouldn’t die, but I know I will continue to create work until I am physically unable to do so. And I have so much to do and much progress to make.  I receive encouragement from my artistic community and family and that keeps me motivated.

Why do you feel that artistically documenting your experiences as a (will fill in with the descriptor of your choice) was important to do?

Documenting my work is important because I’m providing a perspective that has been oppressed and silenced for a long time.  My artwork is an expression of political and social commentary, it may seem more relevant to people who are care about such things and to others it means nothing at all. Sometimes my artwork is attempt to explore a subject and understand it in relation to myself.  My work in progress “Seven Deadly Sins in the Heart of the White Man” is really about my tortured relationship with Catholicism.  It is a work based on an old European image titled “Seven Deadly Sins in the Heart of Man”. I like to look at historical images from the perspective of what my ancestors might have thought about them.  And I think that the ancestors would looked at this image and thought of it as very alien and not all applicable to them

Any special links/announcements about upcoming events or other projects you’re involved in?

You can see my work in San Antonio, Texas at Gallista Gallery at 1913 South Flores Street.  My show “Past the Checkpoint” will be up until April 4, 2015.  I also have a piece titled “Breach Baby” in a group show titled Texas Size Breach Collaborative at the Texas A & M University San Antonio Educational & Cultural Arts Center from March 12- June 14, 2015.  The TAMU Educational @Cultural Arts Center is located at 101 S. Santa Rosa Avenue in San Antonio, Texas.  You can also see more of my work at www.celestedeluna.com or email me at [email protected]

Mujeres de Maiz celebrates 18 years, hosts artivist concert, ceremony and festival

MDM2015_KPFKMujeres de Maiz 18th annual live art show

A season of spiritual artivist happenings to honor womyn in mind, body & spirit

When:  Sunday, March 8th @ 5:30 p.m.

Where:  Legacy LA, 1350 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, CA (map)

The highly anticipated Annual Intercultural, Interdisciplinary, Intergenerational Mujeres de Maiz Artivist concert, ceremony and festival featuring womyn of color and Q/T performers honoring our 18th Anniversary, International Womyn’s Day and Womyn’s Herstory Month and the coming of Spring & Mexica New Year since 1997.

Facebook event page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/863333613689972/888586807831319/

Who are the Mujeres de Maiz and what do they do?

ILE at MDM2011, Azul DelGrasso“The mission of Mujeres de Maiz (women of the corn) is to bring together and empower diverse women and girls and through the creation of community spaces that provide hollistic wellness through education, programming, exhibition and publishing.”

“Mujeres de Maiz was founded in 1997 as a grassroots, multimedia women’s activist organization based in East Los Angeles, California. Mujeres de Maiz utilizes community partnerships, mainly those developed with local artists, performers, educators, and organizers in the creation and implementation of our programming. These MdM_MArching1partnerships are primarily with Chicana/Latina college graduates between ages 25-65 who are involved in the cultural, artistic and educational tapestry of the greater Los Angeles area. We invite partners to perform (music, dance, theater), exhibit their artwork, and facilitate interactive workshops, demonstrations, and classes on topics that range from sustainable urban gardening to self defense for women. Mujeres de Maiz regularly collaborates with women artists and educators of African, Central and South American, Jewish, Filipina, Asian, Native American and Sri Lankan descent who recognize the need and potential of cross-racial solidarity.”

What are the goals for the future for Mujeres de Maiz?

Mujeres de Maiz celebrates their 20th anniversary in 2017. A retrospective museum exhibit and published anthology in honor of this milestone are being organized. The anthology currently consists of artistic works, academic essays and critiques, as well as Mujeres de Maiz artist/activist memoirs and visual materials that chronicle 20 years of art and activist work.   In addition, MdM strives to develop more youth programming including workshops, assemblies and conferences.  With our future programming we hope to only give opportunities for womyn artists, stage, and wall, but also with professional development, jobs and training.   To do this Mujeres de Maiz is considering transforming into a non-profit organization.  Stay updated to support  their future projects at www.MujeresdeMaiz.com

How can folks that don’t live in California get involved or support your work?

625446_10200464470352409_1307381170_nMdM works local but vision is global.  They have inspired collectives and chapters across the southwest.   Their zine is open to any self-identified womyn of color to submit original work in art, and poetry for publication.  In addition their are calls for artists for visual exhibitions on a yearly basis.   Artists and writers from down the street and around the world have been published in their Zines as well as performed on their stages, so consider becoming part of Mujeres de Maiz in these ways.   In addition supporting their work via their Mujer Meracado and Publications page enables them to continue and grow.

For more information and to get involved, please visit http://mujeresdemaiz.com/

Interview with Yaqui-Xicana artist Crystal Galindo

Crystal Galindo
Crystal Galindo

Name, age, nation, how do you identify?

Crystal Galindo, I’m 31 years old, Yaqui-Xicana. I identify as such, I prefer not to identify as Latina or Hispanic.

How did your journey as an artist begin?

I started drawing at the age of 3, when I would watch my dad draw tattoo style pen and ink images and graphite portraits. My mom still tells the story of me as a toddler coloring in my books and trying to finish the coloring book subject matter on every inch of the page. I was always trying to expand their world.

Why do you feel that artistically documenting your experiences as a (will fill in with the descriptor of your choice) was important to do?

As a Xicana, there are so many layers to what makes me who I am. Yes, as human beings we are complex creatures, but in our society there is no denying the inequalities and oppression that exists. We are bombarded daily with images and micro-aggressions telling us how unimportant we are. I had to really own and understand who I was to be able to accept and celebrate the complexities within myself. I am a brown, indigenous womxn. I am curvy. I can be seen as plus size by society’s standards of beauty.

I have been displaced from my nation on my dad’s side (Yaqui) and still haven’t found out the indigenous complexity of my mom’s side. I have to unlearn many of the patriarchal ideas that have been pushed upon me through society. I think putting the spotlight on womxn who are raza, who are strong, vulnerable, and have many different looks, sizes and shapes can begin to shift the paradigm. Our stories need to be told, no matter what. I am telling the world that we are not invisible.

What messages (if any) are you aiming to share through these works (and to whom or what communities)?

Our existence is political. Radical Self love and acceptance are major underlying themes. I want to invite womxn of color to embrace and love themselves in their entirety. My work also seeks to celebrate us, our complexities and our differences. We are not a stereotype. We are not the hot Latin mami with curves in all the “right” places who will say “ay yay yay” when the tortillas are burning and call you papi in the middle of having sex. We aren’t the spicy trope who will lose our temper at the drop of a hat or the maid who is just waiting for a white savior. We are skinny, we are able bodied, we are disabled, we are fat, we are curvy, we are big, and we are small. We are red, we are brown, we are dark skinned, and we are light skinned. We fuck, we fight, we love, we make love, we have abortions, we marry young, we never marry, we are hetero, we are lesbian, we are pan, we are trans, and we are cis. We are still learning. I am still learning to love and accept myself no matter the successes or failures, the fluctuations in my weight, or the community I am in. I speak to womxn of color with my work, and really hone in on my indigenous sisters, because I will never quite shake the feeling of displacement colonization has brought upon us.

Why did you choose this genre?

My style is an amalgamation of all that I have made before it, if that makes sense. It combines the need for self-assurance and confidence, the unearthing and reclaiming of my roots, body positivity and acceptance, portraits of strong xingonxs and their back stories, and a celebration of indigeneity. Sprinkle all that with my bright color palette and some magical realism and that is me. I can’t say I chose this genre, because to do so would mean I had other genres laid out before me and I just picked one. Rather, I had to decide to let go, and allow all the things I wanted to say with my art just happen. It takes trial and error, of course. But I feel I have so much to say that I never run out of ideas to paint.

When did you decide to follow your calling as an artist?

I always knew what I wanted to be. When I was a little girl, I would tell people I was going to be an artist, a singer and a makeup artist. I somewhat pursued the other two before deciding to practice them privately.  I made the choice to fully pursue my art career at 21. I lived at home, went to community college and was registered as an Art Major, yet had never taken formal art classes. I had this strange idea in my head that art skills had to fully come naturally and somehow I would just come to know how to propel my career on my own. I think I just had an underlying fear of being critiqued and rejected with my art.

One day, I wandered into the college art gallery and saw a variety of oil paintings on display. There were student portraits lining the walls, and I felt the need to learn the medium. There was so much life and vibrancy in oil paints, and in addition I yearned for my work to be deemed worthy of being seen.  At this point, I was drawing and using watercolor, but I knew I needed to expand and hone in on my skills so I could get better.  I also had to shed my shy demeanor and learn how to give and receive constructive criticism.

Were there doubts and obstacles you encountered on your journey?

Definitely.  I grew up in a very loving and supportive household, but it was in the middle of the central valley (California) with zero opportunity for me to grow as an artist. On top of that, it was hard for me to finally move out on my own and go to a university. In essence, I felt bad for leaving my parents.  I’m sure there are a lot of xicanxs who experience the same sort of guilt leaving home and moving far. My parents never tried to clip my wings but I knew it was bittersweet when I left.

When I started Undergrad, there were a whole new set of challenges. I felt like I had to work extra to prove myself and be taken seriously, because for a long time I was the only brown girl in the whole Art department. In critiques, my work was dismissed, both purposely and unwittingly. I had this group of mostly white male faculty looking at my work and not knowing what to make of it. My art seemed to baffle people, by the sheer nature of the color combinations and underlying theme of cultura celebration.

There were many times I wanted to give up, or just be lazy since I had felt defeated. But I had to constantly remind myself to keep focus. I had to remember my goals and let that push me to do better, despite being told I was putting too much of myself and my culture into my work. I decided that in order to make others believe in my work, I had to believe in it so strongly that it couldn’t be ignored.

Any special links/announcements about upcoming events or other projects you’re involved in?

Next month is a busy time! My partner and me will be co-curating and showing at the Hayward Area Historical Society for the show “Indigenous Flux: Native Artists Honoring Their Roots Through Contemporary Art.”

www.facebook.com/events/684052671716398/684060778382254

I will be showing at the MOLAA in Long Beach for International Womxn’s Day on March 7th.

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/viva-la-muxer-a-celebration-of-international-womens-day-art-music-herstory-tickets-15102760764

I will be showing at the MACLA in San Jose in April as well. I don’t have a link for that event yet, but will keep my social media contacts up to date on the schedule.

Website:  www.CrystalGalindo.com

Social media links:

facebookinstagramtumblryoutube

Decolonizing Street Art : Anticolonial Street Artists Convergence

 

“Decolonizing street art: Anti-colonial street artists convergence will take place at the end of August 2014. This project fosters the idea of bringing together street artists of indigenous and settler origins and build an artistic community of shared anticolonial values. The convergence will promote a type of street art that advocates the decolonization of Turtle Island and will remind the montrealers of the city’s colonial history. The artists, living across Canada and the USA, already focus part of their work on issues related to indigenous resistance such as environmental struggles against pipelines and mining and justice for missing and murdered native women. “

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/decolonizing-street-art-anticolonial-street-artists-convergence