Category Archives: History

mundo zurdo

El Mundo Zurdo Conference 2018 at Trinity University

Today, May 18, 2018, I presented this video at the El Mundo Zurdo Conference. I also read a speech that I will include in this post as well. Please share this video with everyone you know.

            Before taking my first Latinx Literature class and being exposed to great female authors like Gloria Anzaldua, I felt a disconnect from my culture. I didn’t know that much about the history or current events from the country my family came from. Many of my ancestors were political activists, so I’ve always grown up around strong, independent women. I love the way in which Gloria Anzaldua writes about abstract concepts so unapologetically, especially during a time when it wasn’t safe to do so.

She was brave enough to give a voice to the marginalized, and I admire the strength in her work. I have a personal connection to Anzaldua’s Borderlands/La Frontera and her concept of mestiza consciousness. Anzaldua describes mestiza consciousness as “a consciousness of duality.” I am a mixture of many different beautiful cultures, but some of those cultures have been pitted against each other for many centuries before me.

Considering how long ago Borderlands was published, I expected her to work to be a lot more mainstream and to find a plethora of information about her. While there was some information about her, it wasn’t enough for me; I wanted to know more about this incredible woman. I was upset with myself for not knowing who she was before reading her work in college. I was upset with the Texas Educational System for never mentioning any Latinx authors even once. The one thing I regret the most about not being able to read her work sooner is that when I finally did read it, so much of my confusion regarding my cultural identity finally made sense. Her concept of nepatla, or “in-between-ness” was a tangible concept that I could understand and it helped define an identity that I had never claimed before.

When creating this biopic, I wanted to focus on the things that most people may not know about Gloria Anzaldua like information about her childhood and her education. From the time I first read her work to the time that I created this biopic, I have noticed a considerable difference in the amount of awareness of her image and work. When I went to The Latino List photography exhibit at the San Antonio Art Museum, I found a sticker set with pictures and quotes from Anzaldua for $15.

While I was happy to see Anzaldua and her image in a mainstream environment, it walks a fine line approaching the dangers of commercialization. Anzaldua’s image and quotes have been used on websites like Etsy, and promote Anzalduan ideas and concepts. There have been countless paintings created with her image, which is interesting because I could barely find more than a handful of pictures of her and none of her family.

She has become not just a Chicana icon, but she has become an icon for the marginalized and voiceless. In reading her work, many people have been inspired by her courage to embrace the freedom to be yourself in order to really figure the many facets of their identity even if it doesn’t exist yet. She has created an abstract language so that people can learn to understand themselves and others regardless of time, space, and geographical borders. I hope that with this video that I can let the world know about Gloria Anzaldua’s extraordinary life journey. She created a path for many of us to follow her in her footsteps and we must all do our part to continue to break down barriers and keep pushing the boundaries of what is socially acceptable.

oral history project

Oral History Project: Martina Herrera (2016)

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A few semesters ago, my professor Dr. Santos assigned us an oral history project to do on a family member or someone we knew. I had done something similar in the past, but I hadn’t really done anything family history-wise since high school. I was really excited to do this project for school. My mom also did an interview with my grandma about her days as an activist and how she participated in strikes and met Cesar Chavez. I will be posting that interview soon as well, and as a matter of fact, I have at least 6 interviews that are waiting to be edited and posted. I didn’t ask to be the family historian, but with my education, writing skills, and tech-savvy nature, I’m the perfect one for the job.

I’m hoping to write a book about my family history, but as we all know videos on the Internet are forever. I want to make our family history available to anyone and everyone, not just for future generations of my family, but because my family history is tied to the history of the City of San Antonio. I’m not saying I’m famous, but I will be in the future when more people find out that the beautiful San Antonio would not exist without my family and the 15 other families that came across the ocean in a boat.

The thing that I would take away from this interview with my grandma is that she showed me the importance of education and family. Many of my family members did not graduate from high school, and my great grandma was one of the few to go back later in life to get her GED. It was a big accomplishment for her, and I know how important education was to her. My paternal great grandmother had to drop out of school when she in the first grade so in the 98 years she was alive she never learned to read. She only knew enough English to cook but she raised 9 kids and that is also a big accomplishment.

If it wasn’t for these two amazing women I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I do today and I am really grateful for that. I think if they were both still here, they would be proud of what I’m doing with the access I have to resources that they didn’t have. For a while, it felt like the journey was too much and I would never make it. What keeps me going is when I remember that my ancestors came to this country on a boat and had to fight disease and hardships just to bring my family to the point we are at today.

 

If you enjoyed this video, check The Oral History of Rosendo Medina II

Their trash will be my treasure

Their Trash Will Always Be My Treasure

If you’ve read my last couple of posts, you’ll know that I’m running my own mobile library and I received a huge donation recently. Well, a week later, the numbers are in. It would have been more, but I shamelessly kept a few for myself. I will donate them back to my library when I’m done reading them. The total ended up being 419 books, and that’s because that’s all we could fit in my car. Since January I have collected a total of 1,643 books and I only paid $70 for all of them because they are mostly donations. As of right now, I have 1,200 books available in my library.

It took me a week, and I do mean a week, to process all these books. I used every single moment of my free time to get it done. I would sometimes log books for 8 hours a day. I would stay up until 1 AM and then wake up at 9 AM just to try to get it done. I posted a request for volunteers, but I didn’t get anyone to answer so I had to do everything myself. It was probably the biggest thing on my to-do list so far, and I’m glad to finally get it done.

The best part was the kind of books I received in the donation. I received at least 6 first editions and several books from the 1920’s to the 1940’s. One of the best books I received was a 1937 edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and a 1950 edition of Leaves of Grass. Can you believe that someone was going to throw these books away in the trash? It’s heartbreaking, to say the least. With that in mind, I remember going dumpster diving as a kid and finding all kinds of books in good condition so I might start doing that again. I hear people do that for a living, so I’m sure I can save these books from sitting in a landfill while saving the environment in the process. I’ll post a blog about what I find dumpster diving if I find something good. If you are inspired to go dumpster diving because of this post, please check your local city laws because dumpster diving is not legal in all areas.

If you would like to know more, check out out my library page.