It's week TWO for the Aspiring Mama #Chingonafest Fridays. Last week, Pili Montilla graced the blog as the first Chingona and it was fabulous. Today, the fabulous continues with proud feminist Veronica Arreola sitting in the hot seat. It seems I’ve added Chingona Cheerleader to my soapbox recently (Mostly by accident but I’m running with it anyway). Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.
Veronica is a a force to be reckoned with. By day, she runs a women in science & engineering program at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Center for Research on Women and Gender and by night she's a PhD student in Public Administration. I'm assuming that means she earned her veteran blogger stripes (and became a social media addict while doing the public speaking thing) when she should have been sleeping. Oh, and that #365feministselfie thing the entire internet is talking about? Yeah, Veronica founded that, too.(Of course, I'm posting the daily selfies because I like words that start with the letter "F".)
And on to the interview!
Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?
Veronica Arreola: Vanilla bean.
PC: So you're a rebel and don't like boxes, then. *nods head* Can you tell me what favorite book is and why?
VA: This is like asking me to choose my favorite child! Oh wait, I only have one. Damn...still, you can't ask a bookworm this.
PC: I should have seen that one coming. Okay, let's go three for three. What's your favorite quote?
VA: "Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel." Bella Abzug
PC: Alrighty then. Um, and now for the obvious. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
VA: OF COURSE!
PC: Good. You had me worried there for a minute. Let's talk about who you hope to inspire.
VA: My daughter. She is everything that I had hoped to have as a daughter. Smart, witty, strong, athletic, caring and with an eye on justice. It is an honor to be her mom. Watch out world!
PC: Sweet. When she's old enough to say Chingona without getting grounded, send her my way, will ya? But back to you...do you dream in color or black and white?
VA: Technicolor. When I was a kid, I often got dreams and real life mixed up. I'd swear things happened and my mom would have to explain that I dreamt it.
PC: Why am I not surprised? Okay, so, let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?
PC: How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?
VA: Hijole! The sad thing is that I think of the awful representations first. SNL's Cecily Strong's continuing to play the ditzy Latina, Sofía Vergara's Gloria on "Modern Family" is like a Latina Peg Bundy without Peg's sharp wit and then there's a new Latina character on "The Walking Dead" who looks to be drawn by a 13-year-old boy. ENOUGH! But then we go to the news part of the media and we see Latinas like Maria Hinojosa and Soledad O'Brien, who show our intelligent side. Thank goodness for America Ferrera and Rosario Dawson making movies with strong and intelligent Latina characters..or at least not a stereotype of a Latina which the rest of us have to dispel over and over.
PC: hmm..I see your point, but I also loved Peg Bundy. But it was probably the sharp wit thing. Anyway, NEXT! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...
VA: To keep exploring the world.
PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you...
VA: Hard to choose just one! Why do you do this to me, Pauline? OK, so my dad always had pick up trucks when we were kids. I loved riding in the back, especially when he didn't have a cap on the back. It was heaven. I vividly remember my girlfriends & I tagging along while he want to the auto-part store. We piled in with my boombox, turned up the music and sang all the way there and back.
PC: Oh that makes me think of my Guelo's station wagon and the seats that flipped up and telephone poles with signs with phone numbers for the "Yunk Yard." *sighs wistfully* Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?
PC: Yeah, unless I'm drunk (and I mean like College Frat Party levels), I think in English, too. So what's your favorite dish? Why?
VA: Cheese enchiladas con mole. My mom use to make the best enchiladas. When I moved out of my parents' home, I started my now 20+ years of trying to replicate her recipe. No canned mole for my mom's enchiladas. And since she died 11 years ago, my quest for that perfect recipe so my daughter has the same memories keeps me going. BTW - Anyone know where I can get some California Chile powder?
PC: Going out on a limb here, but California sounds like a good place to look. What? The door..it was RIGHT THERE. You can glare at me later. For now, I wanna know if you feel "Latina enough"?
VA: Not really.
PC: WHAT? You so NO and leave us hanging? That was just mean. Let's see what you do with this one: Describe your perfect day.
VA:A warm day, full of sunshine, cool breeze, then climbing up a tree. I'll find a comfy nook, then settle in to read a good book. These perfect days happened almost every day when I was a kid. Now I substitute biking to a park with my family. Still toting a book along.