In our Second Edition of Nuevos Amigos we interviewed Erica Granados-De La Rosa and Daisy Salinas who together are organizing “Brown Queen: Our Voz, Our Art” this Sunday in Denton. Erica is the founder of Wounded Healers Collective, Spoken Word Artist and Currently a Masters Student at TWU. Daisy is the brains behind Muchahca Fanzine, Feminista Activista and Punk enthusiast.
Their D.I.Y event is the highlight of this Cinco De Mayo weekend; using Art as a platform for non-confrontational activism, Brown Queen is a safe open space for Latina Woman to express, heal and enjoy themselves through various artistic mediums. Moreover, Brown Queen also serves to bring attention to new narrative in the North Texas Latina Community one which is written by the woman themselves; one that celebrates diversity, where cross-culture references are the norm and where grass-root operations like these are more frequent.
While there are plenty of Cinco De Mayo events around town that will try to shove a 8-dollar margarita down your throat, put a Sombrero on your head and have you chow down on some crispy tacos and tell you are partaking in Mexi-Cultural experience. “Brown Queen” is a more honest appraisal of the current talent that surrounds our area and true reflection of the diverse 21 century Latina/Xicana Culture. Just look at the line-up; Where else can you find a a Ranchera Singer, Xicana Rapper and Stand-Up Comedian in one Line-up? I spoke to the two ladies about the event, Riot Grrl’s Zines, and my own identity crisis.
How did you first become involved with Woman’s rights/activism ; Was their specific event or some event that sort of pushed you to take a more active role in Woman’s rights and activism?
Daisy:I was not introduced to feminism in any relevant way that interested me until I took a women’s studies course my freshman year in college. I think this is what pushed me to take a more active role in women’s rights. This ignited a domino effect that would lead me to where I am today. I founded Feminism is Not Dead (FIND) in January of 2011 and served as the music committee coordinator where I was in charge of promoting female musical and visual artists. As I was creating these spaces, an issue was that about all the women were white and I did not know or have contact with many women of color in the community. Racism or white privilege was hardly addressed. As a Latina, it was difficult to see certain issues be privileged over other issues like racism. This led me to join the women’s studies masters program at Texas Woman’s University because the multicultural concentration and community heavily relates with my activist objectives. I feel that the feminist and the people of color communities I have come across here have encouraged me to continue forward with organizing women-centered artistic events while more effectively having opportunities to create, organize and form artistic spaces with other women of color.
Erica: I grew up the flower artist child of immigrant activist and community leaders My mother and father were both heavy activists in the 80’s and 90’s particularly in response to the u.s. aid and violent involvement in the civil wars happening in the global south at the time. Coming out of a divorced house hold I was primarily raised by my abuelita and financially supported by my mother who I witnessed go through various experiences of systemic violence and discrimination for being a Latina in leadership. I grew up very aware of how both gender and race worked in the U.S. However it wasn’t until I started organizing on my own that I learned how difficult being a woman in leadership really was. After some really hard run ins with males of color in the activist communities I found myself in, including being sexually harassed and blatantly disrespected by men who claimed were working towards the same causes, I realized that I wanted to invest more of myself in creating safe and healing spaces that could nurture women of color as leaders, organizers, and creators. This has led me to create and be involved in many projects around the country that relate to women’s issues including the creation of The Wounded Healers Collective and the idea for this event.
Who are your primary influences?
Erica:I have been most influenced politically by my birth mother whom I followed into the trenches of activism as a child, a youth, and now as a young adult. I have learned allot from her paving the way for me and serving as a professional mentor in my ventures through school and the community. However, I always pay respect to all the elders and ancestors that make up my mother line and live through me prayerfully in all that I do. Tlazokamati Tonantzin. In addition, I would have to say that many of my primary influences have also been Black and Afro Caribbean women theorist, artist, and activist such as Audre Lorde and Bell Hooks. Such theorist have mentored me through my experiences as a woman of color in higher education and a Latina looking to find new strategies for the liberation of my community.
Do you identify with Feminism and which ”Wave” would you primarily associate yourself with?
Erica: Like many women of color I have never comfortably identified as a Feminist. To this day I don’t use the word to describe myself although I understand that many women (including some women of color) might and often do come into consciousness and or personal healing through the lens of mainstream feminism. For this reason, I have no problem organizing with any women who do identify as feminist so long as they understand the diversity in perspective, definition, and understanding of the term.
Daisy: All of the previous waves have been primarily centered on heterosexual white feminist concerns besides the third wave but even the third wave still had racial tensions. When my friends and I were in Feminism is not Dead (FIND) we promoted the fourth wave of feminism, which to me is a global feminist movement that is not ethnocentric and instead is inclusive of third world women. The fourth wave also works from an intersectional framework, that is, it addresses all forms of oppression (not just sexism) that intersect and create social disadvantages and inequalities.. Also, women around the world have been doing feminist things for centuries; it just is not called “feminism”. That’s what I think the beauty of it is, is that feminism is an action not a label.
In recent years, i felt there has been a stronger women of color presence in Woman-Right activism, Perhaps with the boom of more websites that have given the space openly discuss issues that specifically pertain to women of color. Do you share this sentiment?
Erica: Unlike many mainstream white feminists, I think many women who identify, as women of color are not focused on simply “women’s rights”. In my own experience the politics behind the identity of ‘women of color(s)’ goes beyond single issue or single cause activism. We are being intentional about connecting instead of choosing. I think that things like black feminist thought, womanism, mujerista theology, and chicana feminism laid the grounding for a new foundation to theorize identity and activist politics that is beyond simply focusing on gender. Instead we are creating something more relevant for people to speak out and act on their complex and interectional realities. I am apart of a generation that is asking the world to reconsider how we are seeing each other and therefore how we are moving forward for change.
Given the traditional cultural background many Latina Girls come from, Do you feel it’s harder for Latinas to identify themselves with Feminism/Woman’s Activism?
Erica: I do think many are hesitant about identifying as a feminist out of fear of ramifications from their families and communities and lack of understanding what it may mean culturally to assume this identity. I feel there is often an assumption that we must give up things that are important to us and that we value as our roles as women in the family. White mainstream feminism can many times contradict our own cultural values and beliefs that, contrary to what feminist and others often say about our “machista” culture, are not all sexist. I believe as Latina’s or women of Latin American and or indigenous descent, we must do more work in defining what issues are important to us and what changes need to be made within our context. This may or may not mean that we label ourselves feminist but do many “feminist like” things and that’s ok. However we choose to identify, the important thing is creating the space for support and solidarity with each other as we organize to make the necessary changes for the health of our community and our own lives.
As a first generation Mexican American constantly living in a Bi-Cultural space i have often struggled with my own identity Crisis, is that something you have struggled with as well?
Erica: Of course! We are always on what Chicana writer Gloria Anzaldua calls the “boderlands” of multiple worlds, never fully apart of anywhere. As Selena’s dad said in the movie “we are too Mexican for the American and too American for the Mexicans!”. Anzaldua speaks of how painful this experience is but also how powerful it can be to be able to travel into different worlds and (re) define self as necessary. Art becomes a powerful tool in telling the stories of our awkward existence and allows us to speak a new language that speaks more to the heart then the mind. There is an activism behind art as a tool for story telling. Art as stories challenge the world to consider more complex ways of understanding each other so we can be seen as more then just a word and a stereotype that accompanies it. We must do work to tell diverse stories that challenge the dominant narrative in this country whether that be through visual art, zines, poems, music, or just a space where we can feel comfortable enough to have authentic conversations with each other.
Daisy: Absolutely! I grew up in a primarily white suburban neighborhood and school system in Tennessee so it was definitely a struggle. I felt that I was always trapped between two worlds and that I could never merge my Mexican and American identity. Theorists like Anzaldua have helped me better understand and come to terms with juggling identities and cultures.
As I’ve grown and healed, I’ve realized ways to negotiate my multicultural identity and exist ambiguously. No culture is going to be perfect. What I’ve realized is that I can reclaim my culture as fitting with my own ideas. It’s about recreating our own culture and this is what I think “Brown Queen” has a potential in being part of.
Tell me about your zine and how it got started
Daisy: My Latina feminist fanzine Muchacha is a quarterly publication that seeks to promote the “F” word feminism, encourage involvement in DIY music/art communities & inspire participation in grassroots activism. Inspired by Riot Grrrl zines, I started a zine with FIND and then this led me to create my own. I became really interested in finding a medium in where I could create my own form of media. Zines felt like the perfect avenue for me to challenge the status quo by addressing issues relevant to me, even if they are shunned by mainstream culture. Each of my issues/editions has a certain theme. I started off interviewing bands and writing about feminism but it has developed much further than that.
Zines serve as alternate forms of knowledge which allow women of color to share our unique stories. I feel that my fanzine encourages women of color to submit their work and challenge the dominant narratives of institutions, such as publishing industries or education systems, which exclude or misrepresent us. My fifth issue “Brown Queen: Latina Voices of the 21st Century” will be released at our Cinco de Mayo “Brown Queen: Our Voz Our Arte” event. This 50 page issue features poetry, art, essays, short stories and photography from Latinas across the country and the world. This issue is an anthology which also aims to include Latinas in and outside of academia. Rather than perpetuate elitism, I feel that Muchacha allows women of color to communicate their ideas despite level of education. I also feel that this issue can serve as a time capsule to preserve our stories for future generations of Latinas and other women of color.
Maybe because i’m a huge fan of Bikini Kill but i always associated the Zine platform with the early 90′s aesthetic, especially riot grrrls zines’. Did you grow up reading any of the Riot Grrrl’s Zines?
That’s awesome! Bikini Kill is like my favorite band. Riot Grrrl zines are one thing that encouraged me to be a zinester. I had actually never even heard of zines before I heard of Riot Grrrl. I didn’t grow up reading Riot Grrrl zines but I did learn about them as a teenager. I went through this whole Riot Grrrl nostalgia phase, especially after I read Sara Marcus’s genius book Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution. (That book is my bible, I talk about it in my third issue.). I just wished that I could have been a teenager in the early 90′s in Olympia or Washington D.C. I kept wanting there to be some sort of Riot Grrrl revival and I was probably really annoying the hell out of people talking about it. Then I sort of woke up and realized I could take the good out of Riot Grrrl (it was not perfect as it was primarily white) and create my own artistic feminist community. It also led me to discover other women of color zinesters and punks who are doing really rad things who some do and do not associate with the movement. If it were not for Riot Grrrl, I may have not pursued women’s studies or been the feminist activist and zinester I am today. I credit the movement for a lot of what I do and you can see it through my fanzines how heavily it has influenced me
What can we expect from the event?
Daisy: I think Erica GDLR and I’s idea for “Brown Queen: Our Voz Our Arte” stems from our determination as Latina artists to carve out a space in North Texas for up and coming women of color artists and activists. Personally, I feel that Latinas and other women of color go underrepresented in music and art communities. I believe that women of color need to come together and challenge this. Rather than waiting to be included in political and artistic communities, there’s an urgent need to create our own. That’s what Erica and I, with the help of our friend Gema, are trying to do: create our own community. At “Brown Queen,” which will be held on Sunday, Cinco de Mayo from 7PM-12AM at Denton’s The Abbey Underground, you can expect diverse performances from Latina women such as comedy, spoken word, ranchera music, hip hop, folk, punk, native drumming, and more. I think this diversity in performance can help create solidarity across musical genres. We are also going to have a silent art auction which will feature work primarily by local Latina artists. Erica and I talked about how Texas was once Mexico and there are so many Latinas here but for various reasons, some of us do not create these kinds of cultural spaces and communities. I hope that by honoring Latina artists and by celebrating Latin@ culture, “Brown Queen” can encourage and inspire Latinas and other women of color that they have unique voices that matter and to use them in whichever medium that suits them.
How can people get involved with the Event or Donate?
Daisy:People can get involved by simply showing up! Even if you don’t necessarily live in Denton, I guarantee you the drive will be worth it. Invite your friends!! Keep in mind though that because of venue regulations, this event is 21+. Bring extra cash to buy artwork and zines! You can also participate in the conservation of culture and art by donating to our kickstarter page at . All donations will cover event costs and give back to women of color artists.
What other plans do you have in the future? What can we expect from Muchacha Fanzine?
Daisy:I hope to continue forward in being involved with the Wounded Healer’s Collective and working with other like-minded activists and artists. This fall I will be throwing the second annual “Femme Fest,” which is a celebration of local women artists. My friend Darci McFarland and I organized a Femme Fest back in November at Hailey’s Venue in Denton and it was very successful. In terms of Muchacha, I’m still deciding on a topic for my summer issue which should be available in the next few months. Just check out my site for any updates: muchachafanzine.tumblr.com. You can also purchase issues on my etsy at etsy.com/shop/muchachashop
Lastly, Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone who is trying to carve out their own Cultural Space?
Erica: Que no tengan miedo de hacer presencia. Particularly in Texas, the land that was stolen from us, we need to show that we are here, tell our OWN stories and create our own reflections for future generations. Many times its easier to fit into the cultural boxes that American mainstream creates for us. So we put on cultural events with the big skirts and the hats and the tacos… but how much do these things reflect what we are living through now? Who we are becoming as a people in this country? The new ways we are creating culture through our stories? We must always remember the diversity in our community, the power in standing in solidarity with other communities, and over all the importance of healing and challenging the things that disconnect us from ourselves and each other.
Daisy: I used to read about women activists and would daydream of what life could be like if I only had the guts to speak my mind and help change the injustice I saw in the world. What I learned most is that you just have to believe in yourself. Anyone can carve out their own space. I’m not an expert or a professional. I do what I do because I feel that if I am not helping others or fighting for social justice, there’s not much point in living. Anyone can organize a cultural space and participate in a community through several mediums (zines, art, music, political organizing, writing, etc) The point is it’s about finding a community that reflects your identity and concerns, even if that community ends up being only a few people, and forming solidarity with communities that are doing similar work. “¡Juntas resistimos, separadas nós caímos!”