Two Great Women in Art: Frida Khalo and SWOON

Growing up, I always loved to draw. I loved portraits, and realistic still art, but above all I loved street art. No one ever supported me when I mentioned that I wanted to create it, mainly because they did not view it as a form of art. I however, was enamored by it and began notice that now, more than ever, street art was becoming more and more popular. I also noticed that almost all street artist were men and I began to lose interest in the field because I didn’t think women could succeed within it. Until I came to find out about SWOON, and I became inspired to begin working on pieces again.

“One of my philosophies of art is that the closer you make things to who you truly are in the time and place that you truly occupy, the more universal they will become. That means to me really embracing what it means to be a woman in this moment, right now, making art. I do think that being able to sit more comfortably with my gender and express that in my work has become more important.”
– Caledonia Dance Curry A.K.A. Swoon

WOMEN IN ART 

When Googling famous artists, 9 out of the first ten listed are hombres.

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However, women have always been artist, and good artists at that! In fact:

“According to a tradition from a story by Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder), the Roman writer of the first century A.D. (23-79), a potter’s daughter from Corinth, named Dibutades made the very first drawing. This girl had a beloved friend who was about to travel away from his city. Prior to his departure, the girl marked the contour of the boy’s head on a wall, following the shadow produced by a lamp’s light.  She later asked her father to do a ceramic piece with this shape.” – Francisco Martinez Mindeguia, Dibutades and the  Origin of Drawing, According to Pliny the Elder, 2012

Can you believe it? A WOMAN. Una mujer como tu, y como yo, was possibly the first artist EVER! So why is then that women are so underrepresented in Google’s list of famous artist, and in art history in general?

There are several answers to that question. But let’s not get into that… instead let’s celebrate two women who are paving and have paved the way:

FRIDA KAHLO

 

Self-Portrait-with-Necklace-of-ThornsThe Broken Column, 1944, Frida Kahlo

Courtesy of www.FridaKahlo.org

Artist Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, in Coyocoán, Mexico City, Mexico. She was brutally injured in a trolley crash on September 17, 1925. In the collision a handrail drove into Frida’s hip and came out the other side. This terrible incident, left Frida unable to bear children, and caused her lifelong suffering that was later very influential on her work. She first started painting after being released from the Red Cross Hospital and made to stay in bed rest for recovery. In the years following her accident Frida joined the Mexican Communist Party and attended many of their gatherings, where she met the famous painter Diego Rivera. A fan of Diego’s works, Frida asked him to critique her paintings to see if she had what it took to pursue a career as an artist. Diego was not only impressed by Frida’s art but by Frida herself, and on August 21, 1929 Frida and Diego married. Shortly after their marriage Frida became pregnant, but had an abortion when the pregnancy became dangerous to her health. After losing her child, Frida focused on painting and changed her style to the “folkloric style” that she is now known for. For several years Frida followed Diego during his travels for work, but along the way both artist maintained several affairs, and Frida had several miscarriages, which led to a tumultuous marriage. For many years the couple put up with the constant infidelity, however, in 1934, Frida discovered that Diego was having an affair with her younger sister and divorces him in 1939. Despite her separation from Diego, Frida continues to paint and exhibits her works in both Mexico and Paris. However, in the last years of her life Frida battle many infirmities, and in 1954 Frida died of pulmonary embolism.

SWOON

 

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Murmuration, Swoon

Caledonia Dance Curry was born in New London, Connecticut. At the age of ten, she began painting and at the age of 19 she moved to New York where she attended the Pratt Institute. While in school, she began her career as a street artist. During that time, she did not tag her work and left her gender unknown to the public, for she knew that street art was dominated by men and being associated as a woman, and even more as a feminist could have a negative impact on how others viewed her work. However, swoon always knew that despite any category she belonged to, her work could stand on its own. Later, as she became more comfortable with herself and the strength of her work she began revealing herself and transitioning from illegal street art to to only commissioned pieces and now has several permanent installations and her work has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Tate Modern and many others.

THEY PAVED THE ROAD, NOW WE CHOOSE WHERE WE GO!

It was not easy for either of these women. Frida sought fame during a time when women were not even considered equal to men, and Swoon sought recognition in an artistic field where women were nowhere to be seen. However, today Frida is recognized as one of the greatest artist to have ever lived between men and women alike, and Swoon is recognized as one of the best street artist around alongside Banksy, Risk, OBEY and others. If they can do it so can you!

Passport: La Unión, Zacapa, Guatemala

 

Credit: Alondra R.

Credit: Alondra R.

Since I was a year old, my parents take me to both Guatemala and El Salvador for every summer vacation. While El Salvador is an extraordinary place, my mother’s home town is actually the place closest to my heart. LaUnión, Zacapa, Guatemala is a land filled with genuinely loving people, sights so strikingly beautiful you cannot even imagine in your wildest dreams, and above all, so much culture. Like any other place, it has its good and its bad, but for me it brings nothing but wonderful memories.

Geography and Demographics

The Municipality of La Unión, is one of the 10 municipalities in the department of Zacapa, Guatemala, and belongs to Region III of the northeaster part of Guatemala. The municipality is located on “La Sierra de Merendon,” a tropical forest covered mountain range that reaches altitudes from 800 to 1,500 meters above sea level (approx. 2,625-4,920 ft.). La Unión covers an area of just 211 square kilometers. Despite its small territorial extension, it has a population approximately 25,464 inhabitants, and is the only municipality of Zacapa home to the indigenous Mayan peoples known as the Ch’orti. According to data obtained by the Municipal Planning Department, 88% of the total population lives in the rural area, and 13% of the population lives in the urban center.

Credit: Alondra R.

Credit: Alondra R.

Economy

The poverty levels in the area range from 50-60% and the annual household income is about Q. 6,500.00, which roughly translates into $859.51. Due to the drop in coffee prices, a staple crop of Guatemala, there have been several problems of malnutrition within the community. Approximately 25% of La Union is cultivated with coffee, 15% of the land is not suitable for crops, 24% is covered with rainforest, and the remaining 35% is land devoted to the cultivation of maize, beans, other regional crops, and livestock.  

unnamed-2Customs and Traditions

The inhabitants of La Unión participate in several community events throughout the year. Some of the more popular ones are: the “Juegos Majisteriales, or the “Teacher Games,” a serious of athletic challenges in which the contestants are all professors of local schools, another similar event in which the participants are students, an event called “Flor de la Feria” during which a town beauty queen is chosen and there are various floats and a parade through out the town. For holidays and birthdays, extended families gather together and throw parties, which are accompanied by live music, and very loud fire works. As for religion, Catholicism is the primary religion in La Unión, and when the service bells rings ring the entire town begins to migrate towards the chapel located at the center of town. Despite there being a majority of Catholics, La Union still has a large religious diversity, from Catholicism, to other forms of Christianity, to  Mayan beliefs such as Chorties and Pocoman, to no religion at all.

My grandma's ice cream store Credit: Alondra R.

My grandma’s ice cream store
Credit: Alondra R.

Gastronomy

The Staple meal in La Unión consists of eggs and black beans with table cream, cheese, hand-made corn tortillas, and if lucky fried plantains. This meal is often consumed at both breakfast and dinner. Coffee is not only the staple crop, it is essential to the every day diet. Coffee is consumed at breakfast, lunch and dinner and accompanied with home-made sweet breads. Other traditional foods include Guatemalan Tamales, Chicharron con Yuca, Chiles Rellenos or stuffed peppers, Pepian de Indio a meat and vegetable stew, Ensalada de Escabeche a pickled vegetable salad, Pollo en crema or Chicken in Cream, marinated preserved beef, chicken soup, beef stew, banana bread, sweet corn atole, tosatadas, Fiambre, Salpicon, and Ceviche.

All in all, La Unión is is an amazing place! And it’ inhabitants are happy and proud.

If you’re ever in Guatemala, make sure to stop by.

 

Why I March

Though I’ve always considered myself to be very opinionated, I was never a fan of activism. In fact, growing up I thought activism was inconvenient. I championed a lot of causes through my teens—I boycotted genres of music because I didn’t like the way they depicted women, I stopped eating meat because I believed in humane treatment for animals—but I kept these to myself.

That said, as a young adult I’ve become invigorated by a fervor and a need to stand up for myself and what I believe in. Maybe it’s that I’m older and wiser, maybe is that I’ve been given the opportunity to better educate myself, or maybe it’s just the fanaticism of living in the capital of a battleground state—regardless, I’ve been up in arms and very vocal.

At the start of the 2016 election process, I was rather ambivalent about the whole thing. As a permanent resident of the United States and not a citizen, I wouldn’t be able to vote in the election, and so I thought, “what’s the point?” But despite, I tried my best to get informed, I read articles, I talked to friends, I watched the news, and I opened myself up to a healthy dialogue on the proceedings of this country. At the time I was undergoing a long and oftentimes frustrating battle with immigration for my naturalization, trying my best to become a citizen before voter registration closed. As the months passed, however, it began to appear very evident that it just wasn’t going to happen. I was frustrated, downtrodden, and truly dejected. I was hurt that I was educated, that I was engaged, and that my voice would not be heard.

What hurt me the most is that Latinxs and immigrants were such a hotly debated subject of the election, and I, a Latina immigrant, wouldn’t be able to vote.

It was in the summer of 2016, when the Florida heat was coming to a peak and I was growing more and more dejected in my battle with immigration that it struck me—I might not have a voice in the form of a vote, but I definitely have a voice in the form of influence. I started volunteering for the Democratic Party of Florida. I was out there canvasing and registering people to vote, making sure that they knew how important their vote was—especially in the highly contested state of Florida. The voter registration deadline came and went, then came election night.

I sat down on election night with an election bingo map that I had made myself, I had predicted the states that would go red and which would go blue. I sat down to do homework with the CNN app handy to track the election. After an hour of finding myself getting absolutely no work done, I grabbed a glass of wine and sat in front of the TV, refreshing the CNN app, texting all of my friends, watching county after county go red, then state after state.

My mom isn’t really interested in politics. As immigrants, when we first arrived in Florida in late 1999 her priority was survival. Before she went to bed that night, she texted me, “Déjame saber quién ganó por la mañana,”—let me know who wins in the morning.

I woke up the morning of November ninth with my heart in the pit of my stomach. I barely slept that night, I was lethargic, I didn’t want to go to school, and on the drive to campus I found myself crying. My first thought that morning was how do I tell her? How do I tell my strong Latina mother that the country that she left her culture, her friends, her family, and everything she’d ever known for doesn’t care about her?

By that evening, my disbelief and misery turned into outrage. This country wasn’t going to get to toss me, or any other marginalized individual to the side. I didn’t get to vote, but my voice was going to be heard. That night I taped four sheets of construction paper together, scrawled “F*** Tr***” across it in permanent marker and marched on the capitol.

Exactly one month later, I got my citizenship. I signed petitions, I wrote to senators, I exhausted all of my resources in trying to prevent the inevitable. Then the delegates voted, and then came January 20th. I actively boycotted the inauguration and once more began to feel that sense of hopelessness.

While I was at work, I received a message from one of my friends, “hey—are you going to the march tomorrow?”

I dropped all of my plans and rushed to her house, we made Nasty Woman T-shirts and colorful protest signs. We drove through awful traffic the next morning and met in Rail Road Square. To our amazement, the relatively small city of Tallahassee, Florida had shown out by the thousands to support the Women’s March. We walked through the rain to the campus of Florida A & M University in droves. We didn’t all fit in the rec center where we regrouped—people had to be turned away at the door because we were at capacity. I was soaking wet and shaking, but in looking around me I was reinvigorated. People of all colors, cultures, ages, religions, and gender where there, all speaking with messages of love, solidarity, and support.

And it was in that moment when the true value of protest hit me. To put it plainly, the government and those in power right now might suck. Like, really suck. But, despite we’re still privileged to live in a democracy. As I sloshed through wind and rain wearing my Nasty Woman shirt proudly, I chanted “show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like!”

That’s the beauty of the protest. The unfortunate truth is that while those in power might not care about people of color, immigrants, the disabled, women, refugees, members of the LGBTQ+ community, they are not America. We are America, our voices, our passions, and our differences are America. It was immigrants, religious dissidents, refugees, and people of diverse backgrounds seeking asylum that built the idea of America that we celebrate today. And that gave me comfort. My presence, or anyone’s presence at that protest might have made zero difference in the grand scheme of things. But that’s okay, because I never have to tell my mom that this country doesn’t care about her—I can see that it does in the faces of everyone who marches with me.

El Orgullo Cubano: Why I’m Proud of My Roots

I was born in Havana, Cuba in the spring of 1995. By December of 1999, I was on an airplane bound for the United States of America. I spent my ESOL days in Orlando, spent second grade living in the Everglades, and ultimately came to rest in Miami where I spent all of my adolescence. Miami, Florida—or as we jokingly call it, North Cuba.

Miami to Cubans is like New York to Puerto Ricans, it’s our haven within a country that can often be hostile to people like us. Growing up in Miami, I never had to give up the savory taste of frijoles negros, the fast paced heavily accented Spanish, or the constant blaring of trumpets and dembow.

My favorite Cuban tradition when I was little and living in Havana was El Día de Los Reyes Magos—Three Kings Day, or the Epiphany. It’s like Christmas, but you get three presents—one for each of the wise men that visited baby Jesus. Many Cubans lived in squalor, and so this was oftentimes a difficult holiday to celebrate for parents strapped for cash. Despite, I remember being little and waking up to the sound of my mom getting home from her job at the airport, and seeing her with a brand new doll for me to play with. “Mira Eli,” she would say. “Felicidades!”

Now that I’m older, my absolute favorite tradition is Noche Buena. Celebrated the day before Christmas, it’s a big dinner with all of your tías and tíos, all of your primos, all of your primos that aren’t really even related to you, but your parents are just that close. Noche Buena is a whole pig roasting over a caja china (a ghastly sight to me now that I’m a vegetarian, but tradition nonetheless). Noche Buena is the sound of your tío’s knuckles rapping on a domino table when he doesn’t have a hand to play. Noche Buena is Celia Cruz’s iconic voice belting no hay que llorar porque la vida es un carnaval. Noche Buena is your cheeks being red from giving all of your stubbly tíos besitos on your way in and out of the dinner.

I asked my mom what her favorite traditions were, and she gave me a myriad of reasons to love my roots. She told me about how much she loved the carnivals that they celebrate in El Malecón every year that last a week. She told me how she loved cutting the tips of her hair every February 2nd because it’s the day of the Candelaria, and cutting your hair that day meant it grow healthy the rest of the year. She told me about bathing in the first rain of May, because they say that doing that is good luck.

Of course, no discussion of Cuban tradition is complete without el cafecito. The one, the only, the famous colada cubana. “No Cuban household wakes up without a coladita,” said my mom, who we affectionately call Kukita. “It’s tradition—no, it’s more than that! La coladita cubana is one and only!”

Though not an exclusively Cuban tradition, quinces are a big part of a young Cuban woman’s life. From when she turns 13 years old, her parents will start to hoard things away—makeup, clothes, shoes, anything that could be used for her quinceañera. On the big day, she’s have a court of 15 couples made up of her classmates and neighbors dance together to choreography. It’s the biggest party of a teen girl’s life, and can top a sweet sixteen any day.

“Before there were ultrasounds,” said Kukita, “in Cuba we determined a baby’s sex with the test of a knife and scissors. You would have two chairs, on one would be a knife and the other scissors and both would be covered by a cloth. The pregnant mother would blindly choose which chair to sit in; if she chose the scissors she would have a girl, and if she chose the knife she would have a boy. It’s fun and exciting, and always 100% accurate!”

I asked my mom what she thought were the most important aspects of our culture that she impart to my sister and me. She told me that it’s important that we always know our home and where our roots come from. Not only that, but that we be proud of where we come from and proud to be Cuban women. “I would love that my daughters have a sense of humanity, enthusiasm, and comradery,” she said. “These are Cuban traits… even when times are tough, Cubans keep these traits in their hearts.

“A good sense of humor!” she continued. “Cubans are funny by nature! Dance and music, we’re all about music.” I can attest to these. I couldn’t even count the times that I’ve walked into the kitchen to find my mom dancing around, blasting Gente de Zona—even if she was just making a sandwich.

“I want my daughters to be fighters and to persevere and to follow their dreams,” Kukita continued. “Cubans dream wide awake and we don’t rest until we accomplish our goals! I’m proud to have been born Cuban.”

Just like my mom, these are the things that I’m proud of. I’m proud to pertain to a culture that values hard work and honesty; a culture that is jubilant and happy in the face of adversity; a culture rich with folklore and mysticism; a culture that places importance on a matriarchy; a culture that has an unprecedented zest for life.

For these reasons, I say, soy cubana y soy orgullosa!

Growing Up Latina

written by Stephanie Puente

I was born in the United States, but my parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents were born in different parts of Mexico. My dad and grandma only speak Spanish, which made it very difficult for me to communicate with them because I was accustomed to the English language. As I got older, I took Spanish classes and was becoming fluent in the language. I was very afraid to speak Spanish because we live in El Paso where the majority of people speak Spanish and judge you for not knowing Spanish well. I think this mentality made me question my identity as a Latina because my appearance does not look Latina, so many people always asked me if I spoke Spanish. I began to doubt my identity because of the lack of fluency in the language, but it was through my culture that I was able to gain confidence in who I am.

In my culture, food, traditions, and family plays a huge impact in who we are. For example, during Christmas, my family always gets together to help make tamales. It is part of our tradition and we are able to spend more time together. It was through my family’s customs that I gained more confidence in who I am and began to take pride in my identity. I was able to gain more confidence in speaking Spanish to my family and others, without the fear of being judged. My culture has allowed me to take pride in who I am and not question what others have to say to me about my own identity.

Growing up as a Latina, my biggest fear was not being accepted. However, as I got older, I began to understand that I am me. I am a unique individual and no one can take my identity away from me other than myself.  It is important to believe in who you are and not let others judge how you perceive your own identity. Therefore, I am glad my culture redirected me to believe in my Latina identity when others questioned my role as a Latina.

Latina Leadership in Guatemalan Animal Sanctuary

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In Guatemala City there’s an animal sanctuary that helps restore injured individuals and populations, and also helps establish the re-release of native species. The sanctuary, named Asociación de Rescate y Conservación de la Vida Silvestre (ARCAS), began as the small Mayan Biosphere Reserve in 1989, but in 1995, expanded into Petén, Guatemala, and Hawaii. ARCAS was founded by a group of Guatemalan citizens, who worked alongside other organizations. While alliances have changed, volunteers have always made up the bulk of the team. Today, we can recognize the efforts of three Latina workers for the success of ARCAS.

Miriam Monterroso, the sister of ARCAS founder Tulio Monterroso, is the current Executive Director of the sanctuary. She took power of the Board of Directors in 1994, after a US NGO affiliate was revealed to be corrupt, causing the reputation of ARCAS to fall, along with economic support. Monterroso, however, was able to turn that setback around, and make the organization stronger. She partnered up with CONAP (Consejo Nacional de Àreas Protegidas, or National Protected Area Council), SIGAP (Sistema Nacional de Àreas Protegidas, or National System of Protected Areas),  San Carlos University, the Human Society International (HSI), and the ZACC (Zoos and Aquariums Committing to Conservation) accredited Columbus Zoo; each of which have helped to establish wildlife research, protection programs, or seminars. In fact, Monterosso herself has lead seminars, such as the 2010 Mangrove Seminar and 2012 ARCAS annual strategic planning seminar. She has also met with representatives across nations, such as Councilman Shinchi Kitajima of Jeju, Korea, for worldwide support. Within ARCAS itself, she has been able to expand the sanctuary into other locations, covering a larger variety of animals available for rescue. Monterosso’s latest project involves the proposed Guatemalan Animal Welfare Law. Currently, Guatemalans cannot report acts of animal cruelty. Implementation of the proposed law would set guidelines for the care of domestic pets, livestock, and even wildlife.

Another current project of ARCAS is the 2016 project to conserve the Yellow-naped Amazon, a species of parrot vulnerable to habitat loss through deforestation. Guatemalan biologist Christina Arravillaga was contracted to lead project. Some of her approaches include training local researchers on monitoring parrot data and establishing education activities at six sites. The project is considered to be a permanent program.

Lucia Garcia, the Director of ARCAS Hawaii, has also implemented programs to save a variety of species. To get to her role from her initial job as a freelance researcher, she faced obstacles like “gender inequality, lack of resources,” and “lack of enough staff.” However, she is now content with her position, claiming that it is more of a “daily passion” than job.

“I feel I have impacted wildlife population; my work here has been with the community in education and in community development. I am sure they (local children) are more conscious about their resources and will take care of (them). At the end, they are the future,” Garcia explains.

As of today, she is working on “policies and laws with the community, master plan of the marine protected area, implement(ation) of a system of trash…tourism, environmental education, migration research with the University of Naples, crawl count data with Telemark University, (and) animal rescue.” Definitely a full, but heroic schedule!

“In Guatemala, gender inequality is one of our greates(t) problem(a)s.” Lucia Garcia confesses. However, at ARCAS “we try to be a place where women have the same opportunities as men. We give equal salaries, we encourage and empower teenagers and girls to get involve(d) with (the) environment, in a way that betters their way of life.”

Considering the leadership and program coordination positions that women take in ARCAS, along with all those who support through volunteering, it can be easily seen that without allowing women in the workplace, ARCAS wouldn’t be as successful. The success of the sanctuary is important to the research and conservation of some of the world’s species, who each play a key role in the preservation of their beautiful environments and our beautiful Earth. Every individual’s contribution counts, no matter who you are, or how much you can achieve. According to Garcia, “there are going to be difficult moments, but have with yourself people that you can trust and that trust you… that will make the difficulties weaker.”

Ringing in the New Year: Self-Reflection

The year is almost over! Therefore, give yourself some time ahead to spend a moment doing personal reflection before the year ends.  Self-reflection is a great way to start the new year. Practicing self-reflection has been practiced for centuries and it’s rooted in the world’s greatest spiritual traditions. But what does self-reflection mean?

Self-reflection can be done by anyone! Genuine self-reflection helps us to analyze what we give and receive — whether it’s friendship or an act of kindness. Having an in-depth analysis helps us improve our relationships with our loved ones, with people that we interact at school or at work, and is a powerful way to improve your overall performance. The best part of self-reflection is that it can turn into a habit.

Here are some ways to practice self-reflection:

  • Gratitude Journal: Every morning write 3 things that you’re grateful for, 3 things that will make your day great and a daily affirmation. You can even find apps for electronic devices and take your journal wherever you go.

 

  • Mindfulness: The practice of “the here and now” helps us enjoy our lives to the fullest. Choose a time of the day to admire a garden, a painting, a picture or a video of nature and let your mind forget about problems and the never ending “to-do list.” Practicing mindfulness will give your mind a break by increasing your focus/awareness of what is around you.

 

  • A QUICK moment: Remember this acronym at the end of each day

    • Q…..Question yourself, actions, reactions, and behaviors.

    • U…..Understand your “aha” moments and trace your objectives based on them.

    • I…..Inquire feedback from others. This will help to see yourself from a different perspective.

    • C.….Conquer honesty. Be honest with yourself, probably one of the hardest steps, but, don’t worry, practice makes perfect!

    • K…..Keep it sweet and simple. Write a journal at the beginning and end of your day so you can track your improvements.

Self-reflection means focusing on both the positive and negative aspects of your life and how you can move forward and become a better you. Press the reset button by doing a self-reflection before the year ends and charge your baterias for the New Year.

Letter to a Younger Me

Young girl,

You never walk alone, just misunderstood.

Yes, you are unique,

But life’s conditions, those are few and we’re all afflicted.

So don’t be scared to tell about yourself,

You’d be surprised when people open about themselves

How much like you they are.

That being said,

Always take their good advice,

And be able to tell wrong from right.

And if you fall get back up,

And if you fail…

Well lets just say, you shouldn’t,

Because every day, every hour, every second,

That’s a second chance.

And if for some reason you look back and feel regret,

Well then that’s a reason to try again.

And once you do that you have no longer failed,

You simply had a minor set back.

As for where you’re going,

You probably don’t know yet,

And if you do,

well I wouldn’t be surprised if the destination changed.

But what I will say is that that’s OK.

Follow your dreams,

Do what makes you happy,

And do all you do with passion,

I know that sounds cliché.

But it’s true,

in life everything falls into place,

even chaos has some order to it.

So in the meantime just be.

Just Be you.

Girl Talk: Teen Pregnancy

Gabby Silva shares her thoughts on teen pregnancy:

Latinas have had the highest rate on teen pregnancies since 1995 over all the major ethnicities in the country. Only 80% of teenagers do not receive any type of sexual education before they encounter their first sexual relationship. Lack of sexual education is problematic for Latinas, especially when 51% of Latinas become pregnant before they turn 20.

One out four teenagers that end up pregnant are in between the ages of 15 and 17 and eight out of ten of the teenage fathers do not stay with the mother. The list of disadvantages of being a teenage mom can be long, but it is important when it comes to having sexual relationships teenagers have the accurate information.

Teenagers do not see how drastically a baby can change their lives, especially with how a baby affects their education. Balancing an education and a child is incredibly difficult. Only 38% of teenage moms earn a high school diploma! Having to manage all the homework/study time while taking care of their baby also means less than 2% graduate with a college degree by the time they turn 30. Think it stops with the mom? NOPE! Their kids will also show low performance in school. In fact, 50% of the kids will fail a grade level.

There are serious and negative consequences for having a baby at such a young age, but it does not mean that every teenage mom is doomed to fail. But  having a baby should be a two people’s agreement, and not an accident where teenagers are going to be forced to support the baby.

 

Favorite Cultural Traditions

Chicas share their favorite cultural tradition. 

“My favorite Mexican culture tradition is the food. Which is not exactly a tradition, but it’s the best thing ever.

Mexican food is great! What I love the most about it is how there’s a classic dish that we all love at every family gathering. This is what makes me feel happy, not only for enjoying the food, but also because of what it means. After years and years of trying different types of food, nothing tastes as good as Mexican food to me. I always go back to tacos (the real ones), to enchiladas, mole or whatever is on the table.

Mexican food makes me proud because it is recognized everywhere in the world. This food is from where I belong. Mexican food is best prepared in my home country and, even if someday I get to be far from home, I’ll always remember my family and my hometown because of it.” – Fandi Zapien, 19

 

“My grandmother has always been devoted to La Virgen de Guadalupe. Since we were young she taught us her story, her prayers and how much faith she had in her.

I remember loving when December 12 would come around. Buñuelos, calientitos, champurrado, and posole were some of the food items that were never missing. My favorite part, of course, were the matachines guadalupanos, dancers that would move to the beat of the drums. They would make  so much noise with their colorful attires with every step they took. Also, they would dance in front of a statue of La Virgen de Guadalupe, decorated with flowers and twinkly lights, and would carry her with so much love and care and would dance for her and in her honor. Then, these men dressed in black and with very peculiar masks would dance around, play tricks on people and try to distract the dancers with no success. My mother would tell me it was all part of the performance and it would reassure everyone’s faith.

I also loved how the whole neighborhood would gather around. After the dancers performed they were invited to eat with us. We would serve them and everyone would eat together all the delicious food my grandmother and her vecinas cooked all day long.

At that age I only understood that it was a religious tradition. Something my grandmother, tías, mom, and everyone I knew, had so much faith in. When I grew up I learned more about it. Why people dance for her, why they continue to have faith in her and her whole story, which many don’t know goes way back to when her name was actually Tonantzin. I was so glad to find out that this was something that connected us to our indigenous roots, something I’ve always loved, and it only made me love this day and her story even more.

Now it is my favorite tradition. To me it is more than a religious ceremony or event. It is about family traditions, cultural values and indigenous roots. Things I believe one should never forget.” – Itzel Barraza, 24

 

“My favorite cultural tradition is September 16. I love Mexican food, so I really enjoy this celebration, as well as the dances. I think that this celebration makes people who are far from Mexico become close with their beloved country. The food is so delicious! I love the taquitos, enchiladas, churros, entomatadas, the beverages like limonada, jamaica. GOD! I can go over everything. I really enjoy that people dress as charros and adelitas. I mean, what other cultural tradition can be better than this one? If I were far from my Mexico, this would be the tradition that I would celebrate to get close to my culture. Mexico has many rich and colorful cultural traditions that make it unique and special.” – Ariadne Venegas, 23

 

“My favorite part about my culture is definitely the food. It’s what makes me, me. I love it, I worship it! (not really) but it is awesome! The Enchiladas, the tacos, tostadas, the spiciness, flautas, guacamole, and everything in between! When I think of the food, my face transforms into the emoji with the heart eyes and a smile!– Polet Espinoza, 23