What does it mean to be a Latinx woman leader in Minnesota?

This week’s edition covers stories 
from March 9th to March 15th, 2023.

Today’s issue is 1000 words, a 7.7minute read.

In today’s edition: Isabella and Helene talk a reflection on LatinoLEAD’s LatinActivista Event, the 95th Oscars ceremony, and Honor the Earth at 30: Reflections on the Movement at Macalester College.

Good morning NewPrensa readers, 

Isabella here. It’s officially pothole season! If you drive or ride a bike, you probably haven’t driven in a straight line for the past month or so.  Fingers crossed that the cities begin to cover up these tire killers and we can ride straight, comotion-less into the sunset since now the sun sets at 8 p.m.! Thank you daylight savings time – but also, not?

In this past week: The $250 million dollar Feeding Our Future fraud has charged 60 people. Six have pleaded guilty, and 10 were recently charged against on Monday Mar. 13. The case alleges how multiple nonprofits used federal government funding meant to feed underprivileged children for a money embezzlement scheme, which began in September 2023 (More from NewPrensa’s 221 issue here). 

Monday was also a great day for Minnesota tribal leaders who had a space at Minnesota’s Capitol to speak on issues of great importance to 11 federally-recognized Indian tribes with state lawmakers. More on the hosted Sovereignty Day at the Capitol from MPR

My song of the week: Last Words by Kenny Beats (ft. Remi Wolf)

“Grandmothers” 24 x 30″  📸  Zamara Cuyún

I attended the LatinActivista ‘23 event on Tuesday, hosted by LatinoLEAD, Mujeres Latinas Unidas MN, and the Minnesota Museum of American Art. The event featured local Guatemala-Minnesotan artist Zamara Cuyún (“Gringindia“), whose presentation sparked meaningful conversations among attendees through her own art and the representation of Latina women.

Attendees at the LatinActivista ’23 event were prompted to consider the meaning of being a Latinx woman leader in Minnesota. In discussions with a group of women, topics such as diversity, machismo, representation, and generational trauma were touched upon. Despite differences in experience among women of different ethnic backgrounds, it was acknowledged that the Latinx woman’s experience is unique due to generational trauma and systemic oppression.

Cuyún showed an image of a sculpture by Thomas Crawford, “Mexican Girl Dying, that is shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. We see a young Indigenous woman positioned in an awkward, delicate – and a somewhat sensual way. This is how we’re represented. The modern day representation is Salma Hayek or Sofia Vergara, who are beautiful, curvy, and “passionate” women with heavy spanish-speaking accents. Our image is limited not only by Western society’s representation of us but, also, our own machista cultures that expect such appearance and a submissiveness. In a culture where many Latino households are held up by women, decades of subtle matriarchies, women are still expected to obey the patriarchal oppressive system to identify and abide by laws and standards no longer applicable. 

As Latinx women, we live our days defensively. Whether directly or indirectly attacked, most days are lived by having to define who we are and where we come from because of our accents, our appearance, our food, etc. We also live defensively in our own homes, having to stand up to men in our families for our rights and the respect we deserve. To be who we want to be, despite where we come from. And that we, too, can be powerful, strong, and transformative. That these qualities generally associated with a man are as – or more – beautiful in a woman, too.  

Contemporary Latinx women come from generations of immigrant parents who have had to assimilate to the American, or Western, culture. It was a total emphasis on “yucking your yum” daily and pointing out how you were never exactly the same, such as “oh, you have an accent…” It is okay to be different. Today, we find diversity of voices through race, nationality, gender and sex in Latinx culture. We are all different. But here, we are one and we are the same. We come together because we remind each other of home through the mutual understanding of what it means to be a woman, and a Latinx woman. Most importantly, we are providing spaces for women of color to understand one another and familiarize ourselves with unknown experiences that might have muted us in the past but that we recognize as oppressive today. 

Shall we continue to speak up and share these safe spaces for women. Ni una menos.

Michelle Yeoh gives her acceptance speech at the 95th Annual Academy Awards 📸 Rich Polk | Getty Images

Good morning! Helene here. It’s a few days past the 95th Oscars Ceremony, and the big winners are still exciting. “Everything Everywhere All At Once” did exceedingly well, and brought home awards for Best Picture, Best Lead Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing. Count ‘em! That’s seven of the 11 nominations the film received. Michelle Yeoh, Malaysian-born and 60 years old, won as Best Actress, and is the first Asian woman to win in this category. She’s also only the second woman of color to win Best Actress following Halle Berry who won the award in 2002. Do watch the film if you haven’t. It’s well worth your time! 

Honor the Earth at a Line 5 protest 📸 Honor the Earth website

Now, it’s a long way from screenplay, but Honor the Earth is celebrating their 30th anniversary by hosting a panel with Macalester College to talk about the environmental justice challenges in Minnesota. Honor the Earth was started in 1993 by Winona LaDuke and Indigo Girls. (You listen to the Indigo Girls, right? They’re some of our favorite lesbians!) And do you know LaDuke? She’s a Native American activist and economist and has been a fierce advocate for indigenous control of their homelands, natural resources, and cultural practices. Her family also has ties to the White Earth Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota!

From their mission statement, Honor the Earth strives to “create awareness and support for Native environmental issues and to develop needed financial and political resources for the survival of sustainable Native communities”, which they develop using music, the arts, the media, and Indigenous wisdom. They’ve re-granted 2 million dollars to over 200 Native American communities! Now, the deadline to attend the panel in person ended yesterday, but luckily anyone interested can register here to attend online! If you go, let us know what you think. 

That’s all we’ve got for now! If you’re craving more NewPrensa, be sure to check us out on our Insta

Have a great week, readers!

Isabella and Helene

Hi, friend: Isabella and Helene here! 
We’re Communications Specialists by day
and lucky goldfish by night!

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