Tell us about your work
I am an arts activist and cultural worker who uses the mediums of writing, speaking, community organizing, teaching, and performing. My work is rooted and inspired by my identities both as a queer woman of color, and daughter of indigenous mestizo migrants from what is now called Mexico and Central America. I am the author of a collection of published poems titled “She Speaks Poetry,” and have written various essays, articles, and performance pieces that engage the conversations of healing, transformation, identity, community, and culture. I’ve had the honor of being invited all over the U.S. and Latin America to share my poetry and to learn how various communities engage the power of art and activism.
Recently, I have co-written an indigenous futurism play, “Where Earth Meets The Sky,” which will make its world premiere April 14th at The Latino Cultural Center. It’s a theatrical performance that calls us to re-examine our human relationship to the earth, to each other, and to a present and past that is steeped in systemic and global violence. The play is inspired by my years of political work within diverse communities, and engages non-traditional forms of sci-fi and theater-making, by placing women of color visions for alternative futures at the forefront.
How would you describe arts and culture in Dallas?
This is a city with a complex and painful history, expressed through the arts and culture of Dallas. I see constant grassroots underground culture creation, deeply rooted in political and social historicity of working-class people and people of color. I also see a mostly white, mostly male, production of what the city acknowledges as art, and the constant validation of a culture that doesn’t relate to, and is largely inaccessible by more than half of this city’s population.
What drew you/what keeps you in Dallas?
I was brought to Dallas when I was eleven because in the early 2000s my mother settled here hoping to find roots in the large indigenous Mexican population of this city. Since then I have learned about the challenges Latinx/Indigenous people in Dallas faced in building and maintaining strong communities in order to produce art and culture that are vital to their everyday survival. These challenges include mass displacement and gentrification, violent militarization of neighborhoods and schools, environmental degradation, unjust treatment of migrants, city planning that make mobility less accessible for working class folks and folks of color, and overall the lack of accountability for historically unjust practices that has put poor people and people of color at severe and lethal disadvantages. As an adult and as an artist, I see these issues as a direct assault on cultural producers of color who must live with these things daily and are then asked to meet the standard of art in this city that is mostly defined by white and wealthy institutional culture and language. As a person of color passionate about the power of art, I feel it’s important that we continue to find creative ways to honor the basic needs necessary to support culture producers of color, who serve a vital role in the community to educate, inspire, heal, and make way for visions of alternative futures. Knowing that the U.S. south in general, is a harsher place for artists of all kinds inspires me to stay in this city that helped raise me, and to honor the place and power of art any way I can.
What are your hopes for the cultural plan?
From research teams, to facilitators, to board members, I hope that those who are involved first hand in the cultural plan are critical and clear as to what culture and language they are using and validating in its creation. In addition, I hope they take the time to understand what lens they are looking through based on their own positionality and vantage point as power holders. This alone would be a great triumph. Beyond that, at the very least, I hope that those who hold political power in Dallas, as well as art communities themselves, are reminded of the vital role the artist plays in the growth, vibrancy, and humanity of this city and this world.