Mujeres De Maiz: 20 Years of Artivism & Herstory En L.A.
The Center for the Study of Genders and Sexualities celebrates 20th with oral history project
April 14, 2017
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Cal State LA’s Center for the Study of Genders and Sexualities hosted The Mujeres de Maiz Oral Herstory Project last week to celebrate their 20th Anniversary. For those of you who aren’t familiar with MDM, their mission is, “to bring together and empower diverse women and girls through the creation of community spaces that provide holistic wellness through education, programming, exhibition and publishing.”
At the seminar held Wednesday, some questions such as “Who has a right to claim it [the title of Chicano/a]?” and “What does it actually mean to be [Chicano/a]?” The terms Hispanic and Chicano/a, and Latino/a are often used interchangeably. “Hispanic” focuses on Spanish-speaking origin. This means Spain is included, but Brazil is not – because Brazilians speak Portuguese. “Latino” refers to people of Latin American origin. This includes Brazil but excludes Spain.
To pay homage to Mujeres De Maiz, a panel of three students interviewed female activist of color and members of Mujeres de Maiz through the Oral Herstory project. This panel was presented in association with the Mujeres de Maiz Twenty Year Retrospective Exhibit. The panel included Pedro Martinez, Megan Pennings, and Gabriella Martinez. Through different perspectives, they attempted to extrapolate. After intense preparation, which included completing a three-page questionnaire, assigning team roles, and setting individual altars, the students began.
The first interview was conducted by Pedro Martinez, a Cal State LA student majoring in Chinax & Latinx Studies, minoring in gender, sexuality studies, and feminist advocacy. He interviewed one of the founders of Mujeres De Maíz , Felicia “Fe” Montes. Montes shed light on the idea of healing. “Comedy is a way to reach the community,” she expresses. She went on to mention how comedy is a way to express and integrate an activism component into art. “Artivism: deeply transformative form of labor that is familiar to Mujeres De Maíz .” Montes also followed with how spirit activism is important in the MDM to create a connection with people.
Megan Rennings interviewed Dr. Amber Rose Gonzalez. Rennings has a degree in Chicano Studies, Sociology, a minor in women’s , gender, and sexuality studies. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in Mexican American studies. Rennings’ objective was to better understand the reconnection to the mind, body, and spirit through social media. Rennings passionately expresses, “Once we’re all gone, the next generation will need to tell these stories.”
The final interview was conducted by Gabriella Martinez, who is pursuing a bachelor in sociology and inequality studies, and a minor in creative writing. Martinez interviewed Iris De Anda, a writer and poet. De Anda emphasized the importance of sharing messy childhood stories, “in order to decolonize from the western-taught-heritage, create a loving path.” She stresses the feeling of being lost, by not being taught about her roots. Mujeres De Maiz is a safe haven that teaches and nurtures.
For more information about this organization and their upcoming events, please visit their website, www.mujeresdemaiz.com