Antonia Pantoja

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Reading about Antonia Pantoja was so interesting to me because I feel as there were so many parallels between the both of us. She was very much so in-between New York City, San Diego and Puerto Rico throughout her life, only realizing in her old age that NYC was her true home (despite being born on the island). I was born in San Diego, spent many summers of my life with mis abuelos in Mexico, and grew up around NYC and really got involved in the different (and often intersecting) realms of activism, academia and the arts that the city had to offer. So I understand first-hand this search for “home”, which might just be where one in the most productive and finds the most connections in (for both me and Pantoja, NYC is definitely this place). I also really commend how Pantoja was able to blend these different sects into her everyday life and self-expression, for it’s something that I’m still struggling with. I often find myself getting too comfortable sitting in the “ivory tower”, only writing and theorizing about oppression and liberation and not doing nearly enough to combat inequality. But Pantoja was able to organize Puerto Rican students through many community-based programs in NYC, most notably ASPIRA, as well as reforming the realm of social work to incorporate direct community action when she accepted a teaching position in the field. She really was able to blend together her ethnic identity, academic accomplishments and activist goals together almost seamlessly, which is something I think many latinas should also aim to accomplish.

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