Adidas: Brazil is More Than Soccer Balls and Butts

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In the past few days Adidas has taken a lot of heat for producing (and promptly pullingt-shirts using stereotypes of sexy Brazilians to promote the World Cup. On the first t-shirt, a woman in a bikini stands next to the words “Looking to score.” ‘Cause you know, sex with a Brazilian babe is like scoring a goal in soccer. The second shirt seems innocent enough until you look closer at the heart and realize that it’s just an ass in a thong.

The objectification and hypersexualization of Brazilian women is nothing new  The most famous Brazilians in the U.S. are all models, and if you Google “Brazilian Women” well, suffice it to say that it’s not safe for work. The first time I Googled my name and the word “Brazilian,” I found porn.Brazilian Women
This trend is not confined to Brazilian women: Latinas in general face stereotypes about being hypersexual. Continue Reading →

26. February 2014
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Muxes, Mexico’s “Third Gender”

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These photos have made their rounds on the interwebs a few times now, but they never really lose their relevance do they?

Muxes (what we would probably call trans women) are biologically male people who dress and act as women within the Zapotec communities of Mexico. Unlike in many other cultures where trans people suffer enormous discrimination, according to this Feature Shoot piece, muxes are venerated as “good luck” (not to fetishize trans people or anything). Continue Reading →

10. December 2013
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Latinas Feministas: Comandante Ramona

Photo via Bitch Magazine

I’m trying to bring back my Latinas Feministas series, and expand it a bit. Today’s Feminista is from Mexico. Who you want to hear about next?

The Zapatistas are a pretty controversial movement. Originating in Chiapas, Mexico they have been fighting for indigenous rights since 1994, using primarily (but not entirely) non-violent tactics. Most of the violence that the Zapatistas (Also known as the EZLN) have used has been in self-defense against military and paramilitary attacks on their land, resources and people. Some argue that they are too violent, that a true fight for social justice is meant to be peaceful.

The one thing that is largely undisputed is the Zapatista’s feminism, which brings me to Comandante Ramona, a critical member of the initial EZLN uprising. Comandante Ramona worked as an advocate for women within the movement, and traveled extensively working to concientizar people about the injustices indigenous women faced. According to this Bitch Magazine post: 

As a Tzotzil Mayan woman, “Ramona” left her home in search of work. She experienced the disparities between the rural communities and the larger towns. And, seeing that life was unjustly different for Indian women, she joined the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) to make life better for rural people, especially women.

Comandante Ramona also helped to integrate women’s interests within the EZLN’s first list of demands, including demands for: birth clinics, childcare centers, spaces for women’s artisanal work and selling, as well as access to education and family planning resources for indigenous women. Her struggle was very intersectional: challenging traditional gender norms within rural Chiapas communities and at the same time pushing for indigenous rights within a larger country context.

She participated in various actions with the EZLN, including the National Indigenous Forum, The First National Congress of Indigenous Women in Oaxaca and pushing for the San Andrés accords. She died at 47 years old from kidney failure.

And just for fun, here are two of the photos I took while visiting a Zapatista community this summer. 

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06. December 2013
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Quick Hit: Coming Out as Biracial

I’ve been posting a lot about being white, and being a person of color, and being mixed and being confused. Being an activist and being an ally. Being privileged and being oppressed.

Mostly that’s because I can’t stop thinking about it. And after having written about it the first time, I can’t stop jumping for joy when someone else has “comes out” as racially confused. Because it means I’m not alone, and we’re all still trying to figure this out, and we’re all still doing our best.

So here’s another great post about being biracial, but looking more like one parent than the other. My favorite quotes (though I almost just pasted the whole article):

“…And the biracial experience? Can’t say I understand that entirely, either. Depends on what we look like, on what we’re mixed with, on how we identify. I love this aspect of being biracial, but it’s also what makes it alienating. My sister has had a completely different biracial experience than I’ve had. We share the same parents—the same blood—and our experiences are disparate. Growing up, we had different friends, different hobbies. And it wasn’t a coincidence. Biracial people are largely invisible as a group; we get tossed into whatever category we resemble most. We’re expected to choose black or white (or Indian, or Chinese, or whatever traits dominate). But lots of us don’t want to quietly “Circle One.” Some things aren’t black or white. Like human beings.”

“It’s witnessing one of the most exciting conversations about race since the civil rights movement, and wondering whether you’re the white voice that should shut up and listen, or the black voice that should speak out, or the mixed voice that should ???. It’s the feeling that you belong nowhere, and not knowing what to do about that, and not knowing who to ask.”

03. December 2013
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Obstetric Violence in Brazil: 1 in 4

Photo translation: “The father was dispatched, he couldn’t accompany me, couldn’t stay in the door. Cruelly, they didn’t give him an option and, if he kept insisting, the security was right there.”

Maternal health in Brazil operates on varying levels of privilege, oppression, access and choice. I’ve written before about how just like in the U.S., for many Brazilian women (particularly low-income women of color), there is very little “choice” within their reproductive lives. Institutionalized barriers exist between them and safe and comfortable maternal health services.

Instead, many women are forced to give birth within public hospitals where they experience what Brazilian feminists are calling “Obstetric Violence.” This doesn’t always mean physical violence, but structural violence, a phrase that was originally coined by Johan Galtung. Wikipedia defines structural violence as such: Continue Reading →

30. November 2013
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Is the American Dream for Everyone?

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I love these images from photographer Sam Comen. According to Latino Voices, Comen photographed migrant workers living in California’s Central Valley.

“…To highlight the disparity between dream and actuality, Comen creates photos that resemble glossy magazine images. The photographer casts a dreamlike glow over the harsh realities of Lost Hills life, using a hyper-saturated palette and penetrating light. The space between the photos’ physical appearance and reality mirrors the daily experiences of so many workers, echoing the idea that the American dream can be a much more complex ideal….”

Who really gets access to the American Dream? Continue Reading →

28. November 2013
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Quick Hit: In Support of My Mami & Giving White Latinas Airtime

If you follow me here or on Feministing, you probably heard something about an On Air Google Hangout about color within the Latin@ community that I hosted. You might have read some of the criticism that it inspired, and my subsequent explanation and apology. However, I want to make sure that you also hear another person’s defense of one of the goals of the Hangout: to discuss what it’s like to live at a complicated intersection between privilege and oppression. That is, what it’s like to be a white Latina.

Aya de Leon could not have put my thoughts into more eloquent words. Please check out her entire post, but here are a few of my favorite excerpts:

“If and when folks don’t intentionally take the time to discuss their experiences, they will sometimes find themselves unintentionally taking the time, as in having their privilege issues take over a space that has not been specifically set aside for that purpose.

Granted, whiteskinned Latinas get plenty of airtime overall, just look at Univision, but I’m not talking about women being objectified in media, I’m talking about Latinas engaging in substantive conversations about social justice, cultural criticism, and political transformation…..”

“….However, whiteskinned POC who don’t want to be seen as white can’t always run around wearing a T-shirt that says “I am a person of color,” and the experience of being mis-identified is a significant stressor.  Those of us who are dark, are identifiably of color, experience the harshness of being targeted, but we also have the solace of being able to see and turn to each other for comfort against racism.  We don’t get told we look like “the enemy.”

As an AfroLatina, I support whiteskinned Latinas in having a greater knowledge of self and an opportunity to acknowledge what is privileged and also what is hard about that identity.   I support whiteskinned Latinas in unapologetically exploring the particular ways that they have been impacted by racism, and by deconstructing the specific brand of racism they face.  I support them because all of us need a space to give language to our particular experience, and because I believe that by doing this, white Latinas can be stronger fighters in the battle against white supremacy and more effective in ending racism overall…..”

Read the whole post here.

The beautiful photo above is of Aya’s mother, taken from the original post.

25. November 2013
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