Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Night Common Sense

Very simple:

Don't sleep on Los Lonely Boys.

Ok it's biased, but what can I say? I think strings are completely sexy.

"...take a chance..."

" far is heaven?"

"...te quiero, te adoro...."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Film Review: Machetero

Many of you know I write film reviews. Sometimes the reviews get heavily edited leaving out MAJOR parts of the film and my critiques. This has happened with the film MACHETERO. I'd like to share my FULL review of the film, versus the chopped up one that you can see online.

Here's the original review:

When people stand outside for over an hour after the time a film is supposed to begin, you know they really want to see the film. I was among at least 50 other ticket holders to see the film Machetero, one of the last films shown for the New York International Latino Film Festival. Cataloged under “On The Edge,” Machetero tells a story of what some may call “revolutionary violence.”

As one of the largest crowds I saw in attendance to a film that was not marketed as a special screening, we were eager to get into the theater. Writer, director, and producer Vagabond was present and shared his excitement for the evening and also prepared us to see a film that was not like any other we’ve seen before.
With the entire soundtrack of the film coming from Puerto Punk/fusion band Ricanstruction’s ( Liberation Day album, the cast includes the lead vocalist from the band, Not4Profit as Pedro Taino, a self-identified Machetero fighting for the liberation of the island of Puerto Rico. Joining Not4Profit is Isaach de Bankolé (Casino Royale, Ghost Dog, 3 A.M.) as French journalist Jean Dumont, Kelvin Fernandez as “the Young Rebel” who is inspired to revolutionary action after coming into contact with Pedro and his writings, and Dylcia Pagán former Puerto Rican political prisoner who plays a childhood mentor that “the Young Rebel” had in Puerto Rico.

We watch the evolution of Pedro Taino’s efforts towards educating himself about struggles of independence from around the world and the history of his own homeland of Puerto Rico. Taino’s activism leads him to be labeled as a “Puerto Rican terrorist,” wanted by the police, especially after 9/11. Before he is incarcerated, Taino writes the Anti-Manifesto, which the Young Rebel reads and is moved to action.

The film reveals the consciousness-raising of the Young Rebel which occurs as Pedro Taino is incarcerated and interviewed by journalist Jean Dumont. As Dumont tries to understand Taino’s actions, the Young Rebel’s revolutionary spirit is awakened. He has memories as a young boy in Puerto Rico who is mentored on the beach by Pagán who instills his birthright of fighting for the liberation of the island of Puerto Rico.

What we witness is a story of how colonization and oppression is passed down to our youth and efforts to change what is transmitted to them and each other. This is an important film that demonstrates that youth have more power than we wish to recognize, and that we can change how we perceive sovereignty and how we seek to support and obtain independence in multiple ways.

One of my favorite aspects of the film, that is often overlooked, is Vagabond’s representation of women in the struggle for independence and ending oppression. Pagán’s character is the image and original voice that guides the Young Rebel. The other female character is the girlfriend of the Young Rebel who expresses her interest in the Anti-Manifesto that he was given and that he shares with her. Women are a central part of this story.

After the film, Vagabond was present to answer any questions the audience had. He shared that Machetero has been screened internationally and has won numerous accolades from international film screenings from South Africa to Thailand. One of the surprising findings Vagabond shares is that many international communities do not know that Puerto Rico remains without sovereignty and independence.

The take home message for me: we all have a revolutionary spirit that seeks to guide us towards ending oppression and colonization. What will happen when we choose to recognize the existence of this revolutionary spirit? Do we not realize the power we have?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Take the 2009 Anti-Racist Parent Survey

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(Untitled) Still Working Through It All

I woke up this morning in tears. Sobbing. I was dreaming/remembering a conversation I had with my Papi a few years ago when I was visiting home. It all started when I was thinking of one of my past lovers and the moment I knew I wanted to be with him, then this memory comes to me.

You see, I was remembering one of the moments I knew I wanted to be with my past lover was because he got out of the car to help me adjust the seat of his luxury vehicle that I've never been in and didn't know how to maneuver. When we realized the seat would not go back any further I asked him if he wanted me to pull my hair back so he could see better at night to drive me home. He said that wasn't necessary. I wanted to kiss him for saying that and believing it!

As I remembered/dreamed I knew why I had asked him that: my Papi has often commented on me having to pull my hair back when he drives because he can't see past it. The last time I remember him saying this to me I recall telling him that it was hurtful and crying as he drove us to wherever we were going. He hasn't said anything similar to me in almost 2 years. Pero I haven't visited home often, and I know he still thinks it when he looks at me. Instead he now says "are you going to go like that?" or "are you ready?"

When my sister lived with my mother and heard my father ask me this she would tell him and me to stop; to just leave as we were all ready. I would sit in the front so that I wouldn't obstruct any views from behind him. When she drives she never mentions it. She knows how it hurts as her appearance has been scrutinized by our family too. For her, it's her gender identity that remains female, but her gender expression that frustrate(d) them. I still call her a "soft butch" just cause she's my baby sister and has the cutest round cheeks!

I'm the "femme" daughter with the long hair who is into make up and dresses. But even my gender expression isn't good enough for my family. You see I'm literally and figuratively the black sheep of my family. I do not look like anyone in my family. I am the "throw back" as my past lover said once. I am the proof that rape and pillage occurred in our Spanish-nobility filled family tree. The main issues are that although I look like a woman, I can look like a Black woman, or be mistaken for a Black woman or a woman that has some Blackness in her (because I do!).

I've commented on my experience and identity as LatiNegra and also on my discovering my pelo vivo. Yet I haven't written, or rather completed something that shares what I mean, or what I've experienced, or how I came to such decisions about who I am and how I want to identify myself. I see this as a part of that discussion.

My parents racially pass and identify as White. Ethnically they identify as Puerto Rican. I can only guess that prior to being able to fill out my own boxes my parents also identified me as White too. In college I didn't fill out a race box I just checked ethnicity if it was offered. But I always knew I was not like the rest of my family. I knew I could not pass for White. I knew that I was not White in the way it was meant to include and exclude. I knew this. I know this.

There are times when I believe that my parents just didn't know what to do with me. Nobody told them they would have to raise a woman of Color. They did not expect me to grow into what I am today. They were not ready to see a child they both created grow into someone neither of them recognized. I am not the "mini me" people think they will get when they give birth to their children. Do my parents realize that they have raised a woman of Color? Do they take pride in that?

My earliest memory is when I was about 5-6 years old and visiting family in Puerto Rico and being taken to the hair salon. I watched as my curls fell off my head and I left with a "pixie" hair cut. I remember crying because I didn't want to be seen or mistaken for a boy. Today I think there was more to that fear of being considered something other than female. I hated it when people complimented me on losing my curls. My hair looked straight when it really wasn't. My mother tells me that my hair went "back and forth" between straight and curly until one day it just stayed curly.

I used to want to straighten my hair because that is what I saw and because I was never taught how to manage my curls. My mother would help me put my hair in huge curlers so I would have softer rounder curls but still straight hair. I remember her telling me one time that I wanted her help that models wanted hair like mine. This is one of the last times I remember her complimenting me in such a way. It made me feel like I had something important and valuable. I didn't realize how much I had learned to keep straightening my hair to understand what she was saying to me. In her own way I think she was trying to encourage me to stop going through the ritual of straightening my hair.

I say that light skinned girls with long straight hair and green eyes were "in" when I was in high school and this is one of the only reasons I got out of there alive: because I fit that aesthetic of beauty at the time.

I was never told I was pretty, beautiful, a princess, cute, or any other terms people use to describe little girls, or young girls. My body was never affirmed. I grew up being dissected. My parents would, and still do today, sit and look at me and think about what parts of my face and body resemble members of the family. I've been told I have my paternal great grandmother's high cheekbones. That my maternal grandfather has "light eyes" and my mother would remind me that her hair is curly too. Yet our curls are different. I'm built like my father who is 6'3" and have his hands and feet. I have my mother's freckles across my cheeks and nose and on the top of my hands. Unlike my mother whose freckles are out year round and who burns in the sun; my freckles are hard to see and stand out more when I get sunkissed.

The last time I was home this year my parents did this. The three of us seated on my mother's oversized couch while they both looked at me and spoke about me as if I was not present. Or maybe they think having such conversations will affirm that I am apart of the family. I've never questioned my parents were not my parents even though the only other person whom I look the most like in the family (we can almost pass as twins) is a cousin who was adopted. I know my parents are my biological ones. It's just not as obvious as it is with my sister, who when you look at her you instantly see the similarities. I yelled at them to stop dissecting me. They saw I was upset and uncomfortable so started a conversation about another topic with one another.

My mother use to introduce me to friends, coworkers, people in the community. She says it with pride: "This is my daughter Bianca, she lives in New York." I can see the surprise that people have when they see me. Almost 100% of the time their eyebrows raise and they have an expression of "WOW" which they follow up with a hello. I remember the last time my father introduced me to someone, a friend of his who owned a Middle Eastern market, he said "This is my daughter Bianca. Look at her eyes! Look at her eyes!"

My green eyes are the Whitest thing about me.

I hate that. Nobody says "look at her nose" or "look at her cheekbones" and never "look at her hair." When my paternal grandfather died suddenly in 2005 and we all went to Puerto Rico I feared what people would say to me about the way I looked. I had stopped straightening my hair. I was still fat (being fat was always something some of my family members would talk about). But I realized that the attention was not on me this time it was on my sister and her gender expression. Even though I was fat and had big hair and looked "Black," it was still clear I was a woman. It was not so with my sister. I realized we both have struggled with our appearance and acceptance and affirmation in our own ways. I was so hung up on my own stuff that I didn't realize until much later how she was hurt too.

What I think hurts the most right now is not the memories of how my image and the racialized standards of beauty were transmitted to me, but more so how I see them acted out in right this second. When I stay with my mother, she will stand in the doorway of the bathroom as I fix my hair or sit next to me and watch me put on my make up. I dislike that she watches me fix my hair. I've asked her why she does it and she says she wants to see what I do. I feel like an animal at the zoo being watched. I don't so much mind the make up because it was her and my father that taught and encouraged me to use color and play with color. We bond on make up very much. We are both femme.

One of the most painful things has been watching my Papi partner with women (my parents have been separated for over 13 years, have a very good and respectful relationship from what I can tell, and my Papi has had the same girlfriend for over 5 years). He has chosen a partner that is the complete opposite of me physically and visually.

I've read a lot about folks from interracial families and about interracial dating. What I have not read a lot about is when parents partner with people who are visually, aesthetically, and racially the opposite of their children and how we cope with that selection. I know I've taken his selection personally because it is personal. He has found a blond, blue-eyed, petite Puerto Rican woman to partner with and that is something and someone I will never be (nor do I aspire to be). It stings.

It stings in ways that I just can't describe.

It stings because I read his selection as his preference over everything I am. I read his preference as not ever seeing anything of beauty, worth, or desire in me and what I represent. Logically I know his choice in his partner is not directly any conscious decision towards me or our relationship. I know he loves me, is proud of what I've accomplished. I also know he doesn't think I'm beautiful.

It's odd how there are things you wish you told past lovers before you separated. For me I wish I told my past lover that the woman my father partnered with sent me a message about who I am and how he sees me. That his partner selection, who he allows to meet or be around his children, may impact them in ways he may not ever understand. To be mindful of this as his children are still young, younger than I was when my parents separated and he partnered with someone else. That as a father he has so much power in affirming his only daughter's identity and sense of self.

I have the privilege of still having my Papi in my life. Of being raised by him in a way where he never led me to believe that I couldn't do something because I was a girl, or femme, loving art, or liking music, or wanting something non-traditional. I never questioned his character or if he was someone who would/could hurt others because I know he is not. His bark is bigger than his bite. He hugs me when he sees me. He leaves me kisses on my voicemail. He sings me songs on the telephone with his guitar. He still makes me feel safe. I know he loves me. I have to work through this with him one day. It just stings too much right now.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Night Common Sense

The 40th Anniversary of the Young Lords Party is happening today in NYC. I along with many other folks do not have the money for transportation or ability (standing long periods of time, access to facilities, etc.) to join in the festivities. We are there in spirit!

Today, I'd like to quote from the Young Lords 13 Point Program & Platform. Point 10 reads:

We want equality for women. Machismo must be revolutionary... not oppressive.

Under capitalism, our women have been oppressed by both the society and our own men. The doctrine of machismo has been used by our men to take out their frustrations against their wives, sisters, mothers, and children. Our men must support their women in their fight for economic and social equality, and must recognize that our women are equals in every way within the revolutionary ranks.

Forward, Sisters, In The Struggle!

I'm happy to say that the man who raised me did so in this way. I grew up only knowing revolutionary machismo.

Read more about The Mujeres of the Young Lords.

I teach parts of this text in my class, every class regardless of topic, because this is our life!

You may still purchase the documentary about the Young Lords by Iris Morales.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Links I'm Loving: Latina Sexuality!

So we didn't win the computer (yet) for Sparkle, but I know she feels so loved just by reading all the comments you left!

Here are some stories that I'm really loving right now:

The new column I'm writing is in full effect! Don't miss out!

Get hip on what "revolutionary machismo" was and still is! by reading about The Mujeres of the Young Lords Thanks to goddessjaz for this one!

If you can make it to this NYC film screening please go! Silence: In Search of Black Female Sexuality in America by Mya Baker TODAY at 10pm! View the trailer and see if you want to host a screening in your community!

We rarely, if ever, hear about the Garifuna people of Hondoruas! I came across this commentary on the only Garifuna Hospital in the country.

And because I KNOW you want to see more of Vogue Evolution, here's their Myspace page!

My film review of Dos Americas: The Reconstruction of New Orleans and how Latinos are affected.

My film review of Juan Melendez-6446 about Melendez's efforts to get off death row and Puerto Rican movements around the efforts.

My Lions for Lambs y Latinos article, old but finally the link is working again!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How Social Media (Not A DJ) Saved My Life

This entry is part of a contest to win a new computer by LatISM. I don’t plan to keep the computer for myself but give it to someone in need whom I mention below. The contest is based on number of views, comments (so please leave one!), retweeting, and content.

I wouldn’t be here if it were not for social media. By “here” I mean writing in this space at this moment sharing this story. I remember a world where there were no computers, video games, cell phones, or answering machines. I remember a world where what we said we would do we actually did and that was our follow-through. The world wasn’t so lonely back then. Today, it’s a different story.

Today that follow-through has shifted. Someone shows his/her ability to be efficient and competent by simply sending an email. People get jobs without ever meeting their colleagues. Art is created, ideas are shared, love is transmitted, rituals are made, and change is created. Yet, that’s only if you have a computer, access to one, know how to use it, have someone show you how to use it, or the ability to read and write.

For all the things we love about social media, we as Latinos, LatiNegros, Caribeños cannot forget that we still need to do work that reaches all of us. I struggle with this often. Do I continue to write on this blog? Do I work to create something new in social media? Do I give into “big brother” aka facebook? How do I negotiate the space I occupy within this social median so that I can reach the most people possible?

Many of you know I’m a sexologist. What some of you don’t know is that social media saved my life! I’ve written about what I wanted for this year and without social media I would not have achieved what I did thus far.

First, I began to write. I began to write in this space that is my own and that I share with the world. I’ve received comments and visitors from all over the world. I am honored and continue to be each day.

I’ve reconnected with Erika Lopez, who I met over 5 years ago and we only kept in touch via email. But on facebook, twitter, cell phones, and google chat/voice we’ve created amazing frameworks for some of the most valuable, on the vanguard, art that this world has ever seen! Laughing, fighting, and debating with Erika has lifted me in ways I cannot put into words.

I’ve connected with Maegan La Mamita Mala Ortiz, whose poetry and writings speak to the center of my desire/action/efforts for libertad. Meeting her for the first time on a hot sunny day at the gates of the Catholic college I taught a women’s studies class at this semester is one of the highlights of my summer. Watching her perform parts of her poetry for my students and I was stunning! She reminds me everyday that I am a fierce media maker.

When George Urban Jibaro Torres put me on his Top 25 Latinos To Follow On Twitter I literally blew up! Overnight, no joke! He then had me on Radio Capicu! to discuss sexuality and relationships and people are still talking about that show today! George has been an amazing mentor for me in figuring out how to navigate all of the social media and helping me make decisions about where and how to best help Latinos learn, understand, and enjoy their sexuality.

When my homeboy Nezua started to follow me I got goose skin. I wish I knew who told him to add me on his twitter list, but I’m glad they did! Nezua has spent hours writing and talking with me about media, art, latinidad, sexuality, parenting, relationships, and things that make us both nostalgic. He facilitates this relationship that I’m struggling to have with technology and reminds me it’s all about the light!

Sofia Quintero got on twitter and it was ova! We’ve talked nonstop about media, popular culture, sex, hip hop, relationships, and shamelessly plugging one another left and right!

I’ve found authors and poets like Charlie Vasquez and bfp. I’ve found the woman that made me say “I want that kind of power when I walk into a room” Vanessa del Rio. I connected with Kathy CraftyChica Cano-Murillo! And no story is complete without the mention of my TwitterPutas. You know who you are! We have on another’s back, we love when we are loved, we support, inspire, encourage one another in all things sexy! What better space for a debacle?

So you see, in many ways social media has saved my life. I know I am not alone. Yet, I know how lonely it can get had I not had these people in my life, at my fingertips, able to talk with me in “real time.” There is a TwitterPuta who is unplugged because her computer is all kinds of jacked up. Who I can only talk to after 9pm because that’s when both of our daytime minutes won’t be used, who is someone I know loves me and you in ways we have yet to imagine. If I win this contest, and I pray to all the orishas, goddesses, gods and spirits that I do, this computer goes directly to her so that she can stay “plugged in” and send us her love, support, guidance, wisdom, and Twitterputeando on a regular basis! This one is for Sparkle.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Night Common Sense

Today I received my Latina Magazine with Shakira on the cover. A story advertised on the cover is the top 25 books all Latinas should read. Unfortunately, on this list there are only 8 Latina authors. Today I would like to quote an amazing Latina who changed my life and the lives of other Latinas and women of Color I know. She wasn't on the list:

There is a rebel in me --the Shadow Beast. It is a part of me that refuses to take orders from outside authorities. It refuses to take orders from my conscious will, it threatens the sovereignty of my rulership. It is the part of me that hates restraints of any kind, even those self-imposed. At the least hint of limitation on my time or space by others, it kicks out with both feet. Bolts.

Gloria Anzaldúa
Borderlands/La Fronteria: The New Mestiza
p. 38

Yes, they left out Gloria Anzaldúa.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Please Be Advised: Latina Sexuality

I realize that sometimes I go off on tangents in some posts. For this one here are the things I’d like to convey: there are Latino sexologists in the US, I believe Latina Magazine has reinforced virgin/whore dichotomy by hiring an adult film star as their resident sexual advice columnist, I support AnnMarie as a sex worker, Latina and professional; I think there may be areas in sexuality that may not be accurately or appropriately addressed in this column.

I have a free subscription to Latina Magazine. I was glad that my subscription included the two issues where LatiNegra’s were on the cover (Sessilee Lopez March 2009 y Zoe Saldana for the June/July 2009 covers). It’s not often we see ourselves in all our Blackness and Browness on the cover of magazines that also recognize our ethnicity. Yet, I’ll admit there are other magazines I’d rather dish out $6 a month on, and do happily, then Latina. There is a part of my identity that is not represented through their magazine. You see I identify as a Caribbean woman, a LatiNegra, an Afro-Puerto Rican, activist, educator, mentor, radical woman of Color, scholar, sexologist, fat, lover, and working class. These are parts of my identities that many forms of media, including Latina Magazine, have ignored.

As many magazines do, Latina has a column for advice called “Delores Dices.” There have been plenty of times when I disagreed with the advice given to women regarding relationships, sexuality, sexual health, pleasure, and intimacy. As a trained sexologist, I know that advice columns are good places to start, but they can’t answer all of our questions, or really get to the multiple factors that may come up in certain questions/situations. So, this is a concern I usually have in general with many advice columns, especially those targeted towards reaching people of Color.

Almost two weeks ago my friend and colleague Andrea Plaid sent a tweet that said something to the effect of (and I paraphrase) Latina Magazine hires porn star for new sexuality advice column called Between The Sheets. I clicked on the link and was directed to the story. A picture of a young light skinned slim Latina with brown straight hair greeted me in her pink lingerie. She looked familiar and I scrolled down to read the story. I realized that I recognize AnnMarie because she has been in adult films and I am not ashamed to say that I watch porn!

I “retweeted” the story Andrea sent with the statement “because there are no Latina sexologists.” As twitter is known to work, the story was retweeted from my end and Andrea’s end. My homegirls authors, poets, and media makers Sofia Quintero aka Black Artemis and Maegan La Mamita Mala Ortiz both responded to me. We had an interesting discussion about the choice Latina Magazine had made. They encouraged me to send Latina Magazine my credentials, to write to them, or seriously consider publishing a book!

I’ve thought about this for some time. I went back to the story and saw there were only four comments about the interview with AnnMarie and the new column. The positions were pretty dichotomous; either the idea was loved or hated. My first reaction was hurt.

Why is it that we women, women of Color hurt each other more than anybody else?

I was/am hurt because I know that there are multiple ways to send messages. That Latina Magazine has power in our community with many of our members. How could they not find sexologists in our community? Did they not find my website or the website of others in the field? I’ve shared that one of the things I long for is to be respected and acknowledged as the professional in the field that I am! It’s been a struggle; seasoned sexologists have dismissed me because of my age, ethnicity, or size (to name a few). To see Latina Magazine make a decision that ignored me, us, was the sting that led me to write this post. In writing this I had to move through that selfish space I was at and look at the situation from multiple/collective perspectives.

What message is Latina Magazine sending us when they hire a young Latina in the adult industry to lead a column on sex advice? What happens to the conversations about the sociological, psychological, anthropological, affects upon sexuality? What about when topics such as immigration, rape, incest, domestic violence, abortion, miscarriage (and the D&C that may follow), building relationships and having sex after such experiences come up? Is Latina Magazine setting AnnMarie up for failure? Sexuality is far beyond the act of sex, or of exchanging bodily. The exchange of power, energy, consent, accountability, responsibility, and history is what sexuality also includes (again to name a few).

We, as women of Color and/or Latinas, are placed in and struggle with this “virgin/whore dichotomy.” Latina Magazine, in my opinion, has approached the topic of sexuality and sexual health from within this paradigm. They are reinforcing this ideology as opposed to challenging it or moving beyond it to recreate something new. It’s kind of like using the word “machismo” which has erroneously been coined to affect our men exclusively when really this is a phenomenon in every ethnic community. Latinos don’t hold the copyright to machismo! Yet when we use such ideas and terms we reinforce the existence and misdirected importance. I believe this has happened here with the “virgin/whore dichotomy.” Is it possible to “work from the inside out” to create a change in a dichotomy that generations of people (not just Latinos) have been socialized to believe about us?

I also wonder: Why didn’t Latina Magazine go to the source of such imagery and ask Vanessa del Rio?

There is also a reinforcement of what is expected to be feminine, “sexy,” and labeled Latina. I believe there are more of us that fall outside their expectations than those that meet them. Is the idea that because AnnMarie fits a standard of beauty that is shared by White communities in the US, she will reach more people? Is there an idea that AnnMarie is a safe choice because of her background and profession without regard for her sustainability in the field?

As a result, I think that AnnMarie will not find the support and respect she has earned and deserved as a successful Latina in the sexuality field, and I know all too well how this feels and would not wish this situation on anyone. My fear of this occurring to AnnMarie has already begun. Her expertise is being questioned (which I believe is appropriate to an extent), her character is being disrespected because she is a sex worker (which is juvenile), and people are already dismissing her (which cancels out Latina Magazine’s efforts right?).

I’d like to make this very clear: I’m on AnnMarie’s side! I hope she gives Latina Magazine what they are looking for 100 times over! She’s Latina, a sex worker, and I’ve got her back! I’m not going to play into some hierarchy of “traditionally educated” Latina versus “sex worker” Latina (because many sex workers have degrees, are more than just their job, kinda like you, and are intelligent business people). I’ve worked in the different sectors of the sex work industry and know it’s hard work!

Plus, it’s kind of a tired space to occupy. It’s been done over and over and is still being done. I can’t tell you how many times a woman of Color, a Latina, has used her power over me to keep me below her because she thinks she’s better than me, all because I focus on sexuality. I’m not better than AnnMarie, I just have a different skill set and different approach to discussing our sexuality (I do think my hair is more fun than hers, but that’s another post for another time). Both of our approaches are needed, they work for different communities and together we reach more people who need support and guidance than if we were not doing this work at all.

AnnMarie can probably reach the community I cannot. I can probably get membership into certain groups that she can’t. We are not working against one another; we can very much work together!

I am a sex worker. I work in sex. My form of sex work is not better than or more important than AnnMarie’s. I think I’ve got a lot to learn from AnnMarie about business and I’m sure I can mentor her in some things as well. I’ve devoted over a decade (and the rest of my life) to the field of sexuality and sexual science. During this time, I’ve realized there are not enough people of Color in our field. Granted, it is not the highest paying field to be a part of, but it is one where people have been extremely dedicated and committed. I hope AnnMarie’s column in Latina Magazine helps other Latinos and communities of Color realize this is real work and there’s a lot of work to be done! We need more sexuality educators, counselors, therapists, and professionals trained in the field! We need more now! Learn how to become one.

If AnnMarie is reading this: Know that I hope you create the space and messages YOU want to create for our community without being told what is or is not acceptable. If you need guidance, support, mentorship, or a second opinion you can reach out to me, this work is needed.

You may also follow AnnMarie on twitter.

Media Justice

One of the many things I was working on during the time I was teaching, was orienting myself to join the Amplify Your Voice crew. Amplify Your Voice is a

youth-driven community dedicated to changing society's dysfunctional approach to sexual health issues.

I've joined the "In The Culture" crew where conversations about music, popular culture, images in the media, and everything in between!

My column is called Media Justice: calling out bias in tv, news, movies and popular culture. Can I just say that I LOVE the graphic!

Go visit and leave me a comment!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sex Work IS Work

I've mentioned this topic before: Sex Work IS Work. Don't sleep on the fact that we live in a capitalist society, that gender is a performance, and that women's work can be seen in just about everything!

Guest writer, Adele Nieves, shares with VivirLatino
her interview with Latina burlesque performer La Cholita. She shares with Adele that:

This is my full-time job, I’m a professional, and I put hours and hours into designing all the costumes, the choreography, the music, and everything, and get paid to do it. But I always have faith that the cream rises to the top, and people will see my show is a lot different than someone else’s....

For me, Latinas have always represented certain things. I was surrounded by them growing up; they’re very powerful, sexual, fiery, passionate women, so when there weren’t any Latinas, it seemed kind of crazy to me....

All of my burlesque performances, and the photos I take as a model, I think of as love letters to what has inspired me, and a big part of that has been my culture and my upbringing....

A lot of the feedback I’ve gotten from people is that they view what I’m doing as porn, and I’m like “well, Vida Guerra is on the cover of everything, and she posed naked for Playboy.” It isn’t just about how others view Latinas, but how Latinas view themselves.

That's just a taste of what La Cholita shared with Adele. Go read the full interview!


Call me late cause I don't have cable, but I'll always be on point when it comes to giving credit where credit is due!

For those of you into America's Best Dance Crew, you know that season 4 has begun, and this season is going to be more amazing than any other simply because of Vogue Evolution.

Don't know who they are? Simply put: One of the first out Gay and Trans dance crew on US national reality television. If you missed their first performance which blew the judges and audience away (I could barely hear their music over all the audience screams) check out the video below. Their interview and performance begins about 46 minutes in!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday Night Common Sense

I've been relaxing a bit since teaching is over then I'm back to updating this site with those amazing blog posts I've got in my head!

I think about this quote often, if not every day. Chris Abani's last novella Song for Night has one sentence that triggers so many things for me about my work, activism, space I occupy in the world, what I wish to create and/or become a part of. I wonder what this quote may do for others:

If peace ever comes, I hope it makes us wiser

p. 115

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Media Making & HIV Education & Prevention

It's not often when fascinating visuals, accessible images, and language are used to discuss sexual health. I was extremely happy to find these two videos this week and wanted to share. There are NO subtitles for the first one, but I was able to understand what was going on.

Mira Nair's Migration on AIDS

Hans Rosling on HIV: New facts and stunning data visuals. This video does an amazing job of explaining AIDS all over the world, but especially checks us all on our xenophobia regarding the continent of Africa.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Latino Sexuality Links

This is my last day of teaching, so I will have more time to spend finishing up those posts that I have waiting to be published!

In the meantime, here are some links that I'm loving:

Please go watch this video: trans 101: questions NOT to ask a trans person.

Brazil is sending back hazardous waste sent from the UK that was labeled as "recycled." Included in this bin of what should have been recyclable plastics: used syringes (needles) and condoms! For those of you who don't know, this breaks international law!

Check out my review of the book Fist of the Spider Woman. The editor, Amber Dawn, was featured as Sunday Night Common Sense on this blog not too long ago!

I have two new toy reviews up and you can read the first one here and the second one here.

Finally, here's the book trailer for the final text my students and I read this semester. It's Picture Me Rollin' by Black Artemis. It's now available as an e-book and was perfect for wrapping up our class as it speaks about love, feminisms, violence, sexuality, incarceration, women's work, sisterhood, mentorship, education, and self-awareness.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Night Common Sense

It is my last week of teaching. I'm thinking a lot about the several posts I've begun but have yet to finish. As I began to write more and think more I go back to texts I've read several times.

This evening I went to Frantz Fanon. I re-read parts of Black Skin White Masks. One of the many favorite quotes of his that I have from this book includes:

As soon as I desire I am asking to be considered. I am not merely here-and-now, sealed into thingness. I am for somewhere else and for something else. I demand that notice be taken of me negating activity insofar as I pursue something other than life; insofar insofar as I do battle for the creation of a human world-that is, of a world of reciprocal recognitions.

p. 218