Letter Response to Uncovering Mirrors

Dear Little Sophie,

You are so beautiful. Your mind, your body and your spirit. And you will go through so much. People will put you down but you will get back up again. Your mind will tell you “no” but your heart will tell you “yes”. Listen to your heart because it’s truly what should drive you to inner happiness. I’m here to tell you now that everything will be okay. I know you’re so curious about what the future will hold for you but have faith that whatever happens will happen on its own. It’s okay to think those girls on your favorite television show are pretty. And it’s okay to not know if you have crushes on them or if you just want to be like them. You will still not know the answer to that question when you are older. And that’s okay because you have so much time to “find yourself”. But at the same time, you will ALWAYS be your true self. Life is just a path of discovery. You will uncover so many little secrets about yourself and so will other people. When people in your life insist you give them answers, don’t feel the need to. Your self discovery is personal, not public. They too have their own journey. You will fall very madly in love with silly boys that don’t deserve you! Your heart will hurt a lot when it’s all over but cherish the memories you had with them because you’ll grow so much from these relationships, trust me. While you face more difficult situations down the road, I encourage you to seek help. It’s okay to ask for it because people who love you truly want you to be mentally stable, they want to be here for you. The art that you make will help so much when it comes to these problems. Not just your art, but your writing too. Don’t be afraid to read books too because you can learn so much from them. Even the books you may be embarrassed to pick up, just do it! Who cares? Just you at this point. Like the American Girl book about puberty and hormones, that’ll come in handy some day, again, trust me. When you get to that time in your life where boys start looking at you, don’t feel like you have to be someone else just for them. Don’t feel like you have to dress up just for them to like you because if they’re worth it, their like you “sweatpants, hair-tied, chillin’ with no makeup on.” You’ll find out later what that song is! Anyways, back to relationships! Relationships are tricky but they don’t have to be like that. They can also be a learning experience. I don’t even mean just romantic relationships- but also friendships. The best romantic relationships start as friendships too- so keep that in mind. On a final note, expressing your sexuality is going to be a rollercoaster. You will feel confident some days and most days you won’t know what the heck you want. When you’re feeling lost, talk your LGTBQ+ friends. They will comfort you and relate to you more than anyone else. Never stop loving the people in your life unconditionally because one day you will get it in return. I promise.

Love,

Sophie

Image blog post for Nao Bustamante’s “Bad Girl” Aesthetics

I picked this image to talk about because on the description of Nao Bustamante’s website for this art piece, it said that she was under this rug. I think this really makes a statement because she could have thrown anything under that rug but instead she thought to put herself under there. A lot of art is open for interpretation and I think here I’m interpreting that she has been put under the rug in her life- meaning that people have penalized her for a number of reasons. It could be that she is a Latina or it could be that she is a woman. The intersectionality of her identity has influenced her art and has given her art a bigger meaning for her personally. I really like this piece because I think a lot of people can relate to it but with their own story. That’s how this piece speaks to me.

Source of image: naobustamante.com/art_undertherug.html

Personal Testimonia in response to “De lo que es Amor, de lo que es Vida”

As a child, my way of being creative was to draw instead of write. I had so many thoughts running through my head because of ADD that I had to have some sort of outlet to let me express myself. I found love in creating drawings that were inspired by others’ artwork. Think back on this now, I probably could have benefitted from writing down my feelings. Like in “De lo que es Amor, de lo que es Vida”, the author found peace in her poetry. When I was little I thought that my drawings were the only way I could express myself because I wasn’t good enough to write incredible things. But that mindset is unhealthy in a sense because writing for yourself should not be judged. It should be just for you and no one else. When being creative or having an outlet to express yourself, everyone’s form of this is going to be different. And their meaning behind it is going to be different too. We express ourselves for different reasons- some people need to cope with depression or others may just need to pass time. For me, drawing was mostly something to do to pass time or being my Grandma said I was watching to much television. But as I got older, I needed to create for different reasons. Your problems become bigger as you get older and that was the case in my life. But while your problems become bigger, sometimes that distracts you from doing the things you love. I definitely fell off my wagon. There were years I didn’t draw because my mental health wasn’t in the right place. I wasn’t in the right mindset so I didn’t care about my art. I didn’t make my mental health a priority like I should have. When it became clear to my friends and family that I wasn’t well, they felt the need to reiterate to me that I should be doing the things that I love and being around supporting people as well. I eventually got better with the help of family and friends. But as I entered college, I had more of a recognition of the importance of stabilizing mental health.I began to keep a journal and write in it almost every day. It helped me a lot to get all my feelings out and was great to have somewhere to reflect on my life daily. I’ve begun to notice that everyone falls off the wagon sometimes. We go through phases where we forget to take care of ourselves. I forgot to journal for a very long time. And began to pick it up again when I transferred to New Paltz last semester. Journalling was the best decision I made for my mental health last semester. Even though I am on the right path and my mental health was pretty stable, it still gave me a place to vent during that transitioning time. In times where we’re making a big move or switching jobs, it’s important to have a place where we can reflect on how things are going. For me, this was exactly why I needed to start up a new creative outlet like journalling.

Picture in response to Reading the Body

 

This is my first tattoo out of two. When someone sees it they don’t know the meaning behind it. They don’t know that story. Every scar, scrape, tattoo, birthmark on my body has a story. But these little spots on my body are only parts of the big picture that is my unique story. Everyone has marks on their body that we automatically look at if it’s visible. These markings on our bodies make up who we are! And whether it’s a stretch mark or mole, these “imperfections” are perfect. We must embrace every part of our bodies because our body is a forest- ever growing and changing. Our bodies are sacred to us and we need to keep our negative thoughts about the little spots on us in the back of our heads. My tattoo may not be for you, but it’s for me and that’s why it’s there. Because I love it and that’s all that matters.

Testomonia in response to Temporary Latina

Ever since my parents split up when I was about two or three, my mom was my primary caretaker. In the early stages of my life, I had my Caribbean side of the family in my presence. But as I got older, I spent more time with my mom’s side of the family that is completly Irish so my Latina and Caribbean identity was slowly fading. I was put into this environment where everyone was white. I felt like I had to embrace my whiteness, my half Irish side of my identity instead of trying to find out more about being Venezuelan and Trini.  I wasn’t able to see my father and that side of the family all lost touch with each other so it was sort of like I had no one to talk to about my heritage. Now looking back on my childhood, I really never embraced being different. I never ever said I was “Latina” because I truly didn’t know anything about Venezuelan culture. I had never been there and I’ve never spoken Spanish besides taking classes in school. Now as I think about my childhood, I truly wish I had taken matters into my own hand and done at least some research about being from Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela or even reached out to my family on my father’s side to get some answers. But it’s never too late to start. At times I felt proud to be mixed because people would see me and call me exotic and would ask me “What are you?”. In my head, thinking about this question now, I should have replied ” I’m a human” because I was being treated differently because of the way I looked. People wanted to put me in a box but they couldn’t figure out what box to put me in unless I gave them answers. As a twenty one year old, mixed race woman, I can reflect on my past experiences as an outsider and realize that my appearance definitely had a lot to do with how I was treated in the communities I was placed into. At elementary school, I was the only person in my class that had a black background and this affected my self esteem, how I talked to my peers and how I talked to my family. I had this thought in my head that no one would be friends with me if I didn’t try to be more Irish. Or that if I didn’t dress preppy enough, my grandparents would treat me differently. It’s sad to think of this now because I did give in, I was pressured into being more white. If I had embraced being Latina and Caribbean, my life would totally be different now. I think I would be a lot more educated and a lot more confident in who I am because knowing where you come from can change your perspective on life. Now that I’m older, I’m going to make a greater effort to embrace being Latina and Trini because that’s what makes me, me.

Letter in response to Alchemies of Erasure

Dear Alyssa,

“When a woman has to be made invisible, it is because she is powerful, and her presence reverberates, touching everything in its path.”

When I read this quote I immediately thought of you. When you recently moving from Long Island to North Carolina, you told me you felt out of place. Most of the high school you are now enrolled in is full of students who identify to be as white. Being that you are a mixed chick, you’ve said it’s hard to feel connected to these people who don’t identify with our culture- our culture as Caribbean women. I feel for you and I think as you get older you will realize that you aren’t just your appearance but you’re mind and soul are what make you shine compared to the others that see you as “the other”. You may be “the other”, the “new girl” but you are the new girl who is beyond her years and understands societal issues that people who don’t have the same identities as you do not understand. They can’t put themselves in your shoes. The place that you feel you have in this community allows you to be a powerful outsider. Someone who can actively listen and reflect on people’s actions and words. In my opinion, that’s a great thing!! People who aren’t like you and me, don’t have that ability. We have the capabilities to see what others don’t. We can see who thinks before they speak, and who doesn’t. We can see who chooses their words carefully and who just talks out of their asses. When you tell me you just want to leave the school and come back to New York, I fear for you. I fear that you won’t stick around to educate your fellow classmates of the role that you play in this community. You must stay. You must stay and tell them how their actions and their words have an impact on you! This will give you power over others. Your suffering and loss in these situations that you experience gives you the power to tell people your story and share how it can change their perspective of the outsider’s situation. Being the outsider or “the invisible” isn’t a bad identity. It’s empowering. I want you to realize you have this power and find that power within you because you can use it to do so much. You have no idea Alyssa. Your experiences in North Carolina can help educate people. The state that you live in, the environment you live in is such a political change from how you lived in Long Island, New York. You definitely already know this because you see it in school. You see how kids dress with their “Make America Great Again” hats supporting Donald Trump and all the hatred he stands with. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and describe your hardships you’ve experienced in your community with the open ears of youth and even your parents who can learn from your heart ache.

All my love,

Sophie

Photo response to Lightning by Mirtha N. Quintanales

I really enjoyed reading this testomonio because I related to her story as a child. Starting from age seven, Mirtha didn’t really have a connection with God and this surprised me because a lot of Latinas do have some sort of religious connection to him. And this is where I personally felt connected to her because as I was growing up, my family was Catholic but I did not identify with this religion because I didn’t feel God’s presence. Because of that I always questioned his existence even though my whole family truly believed there was one. Like in her testomonio, how she said her father was an altar boy and grew up having to live his life with the intention of God watching over him- my mother had a similar experience. Her parents raised her to be Catholic and she was baptized, got her communion, went through all the traditions and ceremonies in the Catholic religion. So this was a big part of her life and she was expected to raise me under these traditions but when she had me, she shied away from it so I was left questioning my beliefs like Mirtha did as a child.

Photo from: www.lifeposters.org/is-god-real/

 

Response to Certified Organic Intellectual by Aurora Levins Morales

In the early 1970’s groups of women would come together to share their personal stores. Sharing these stories lead women in social action groups to connect with each other on a deeper level due to similar hardships faced against their race, sexual identity, age and other identities. These women used their shared experiences to create a personal authority that they had achieved with this knowledge. This knowledge became the spark to educating and actively fight for feminism. I made this collage inspired by this part of the essay. From reading this you can see that activism was a very important part in the lives of feminists like Aurora Levins Morales. Morales’ story inspired me to find these images to create a collage that reflected the messages sent to communities in order to enlighten and find peace. Especially during the 1970’s, getting involved and speaking up about issues was super important because there wasn’t much quality in America and across the globe.

-Images found on Polyvore.com and collage made on Polyvore.com