Welcome to WEEK 21 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama. If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purpose, Las Tias and cultural backlash be damned. (Well, if you’re my tia, not really, but hypothetically speaking. Unless, of course, you’re one of the tias I no longer speak to then YES but AWKWARD and MOVING ON…) If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does. Basically, I know you love me cuz ya tell me all the time. See how that works?
It's also important for me to mention the Chingonafest podcast Patreon Fundraising page. Think Kickstarter but for writers and you've got the basic idea. In order to get the podcast going on a regular basis, I need your help. With a minimum commitment of $1 per episode, you can help move our community to a a whole new level. Feel important yet? 'Cuz you are.
Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Writer and New York therapist Heiddi Zalamar and Ana-Lydia Ochoa- Monaco from Latina Lifestyle Bloggers Collective were two of the most recently featured wonder women. 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.
Today’ featured Chingona is the talented woman behind Tejana Made Designs. She owes me a bitchin' hand-tooled leather cuff because we've been talking about one forEVER, but I'll let that slide for now and focus on why she's fabulous.
For starters, stop by her blog and read her latest post because she's talking about depression and divorce and pulling herself from out of the gutter that many in our culture pretend doesn't exist. Hats off to Mazone for speaking up on these important topics. Eventually, Jessica and I will get off our respective asses and officially release an official #ChingonaFest line of leather cuffs, but for now, we will just put the pipe dreams back on the backburner and get to that interview, shall we?
#Chingonafest Project Interview Questions
Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?
Jessica Mazone: Chocolate because it's a girls best friend
PC: This is why we are friends. Favorite book and why:
JM: Ooh...This is a tough one. I am a huge speculative fiction fan so I'm going to with Ink by fellow Latina Sabrina Vourvoulias. It is an exceptional book that discusses immigration, segregation, and rebellion in a Cybertech world. Plus, she has plenty of badass Chingona characters who have to save themselves.
PC: I think you need to assign my reading list, Ms. Mazone. What's your favorite quote?
JM: Right now...it's what my mom told me when we were discussing the Chingona cuff. I asked her if anyone had ever used that term in a derogatory way towards her. She said that it happens often but she always answers the following way:
No creo....soy Chingona.
I am always answering this way from now on.
(I don't think...I *am* Chingona).
PC: Okay so this is probably an obvious question now but, do you consider yourself a feminist?
PC: I'd have bitch-slapped you had you responded with a no at this point. Describe yourself in third person.
JM: Opinionated, artistic, maker of leather things, and lover of embroidered cowboy boots
PC: Not really third person but I'm a week late publishing this 0ne so we will call it a draw. Who inspires you?
JM: The wonderful network of women I have met working online. Each and every one of them inspires and motivates me to be a better version of myself as cliche as that sounds. Even when I want to give up, they are there. A text or a phone call away to bounce ideas or just vent.
PC: Let's start a Chingonafest Textline. Cuz phone calls are just so..all-encompassing, right? But we can discuss that later. For now, who is it you hope to inspire?
JM: Students in the rural town I grew up in. I want them to know that the poverty we face there isn't permanent and that we are the key to reviving our communities. We have the tools at our fingertips and all we need is the desire.
PC: Do you dream in color or black and white?
JM: Color because it's more fun.
PC: And you say that like it's a choice. Interesting....,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?
JM: I honestly believe that we need to relinquish the idea that one Latina can represent the meridian of Latina subsets in our culture. Even though we may have Spanish to unify us, it's regional dialects and cultural nuances are what makes being Latina so beautiful.
As a pretty assimilated Latina, I would like to see more characters who happen to be Latino instead of Latino being the character. Does that make sense?
PC: Hell yes, that makes sense. I've got that novel I'm working on. Maybe you need to be my writing coach and threaten me with bodily harm after I hit publish here. Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...
JM: Don't be afraid to go against the norm. It's not about pleasing me but finding out what your strengths and weaknesses are and utilizing them to create the career you want.
PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you...
JM: I lived on a ranch for most of my childhood and teen years so bonfires were one of those things we always did. We would sit in front of mesquite fueled fires that filled the air with a sweet stench that permeated your clothes and hair. We talked about our dreams, ff escape, of lost loved ones, and broken hearts. I actually miss it sometimes.
PC: Dude. I'm allergic to your childhood. Keep the mesquite the fuck away from me. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I'm just allergic to being Mexican. *glances up at the heavens* (Sorry, Guela!) But forget me. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish, Jess?
JM: English and Spanglish
PC *blinks*: Isn't that the same as Spanglish? No, don't answer that. What's your favorite dish? Why?
JM: Kung Pao Chicken. I don't get to eat it very often but I have this strange love affair with Asian food... especially takeout.
PC: Are you kidding? I'm pretty sure the Chinese place we ordered from when I was a kid played did a Mexican hat dance every time we called with an order big enough to feed 20 of us from my sisters to my tios and cousins. Mexicans can put down some eggrolls, amiRIGHT? Anyway, do you feel "Latina enough"?
JM: Hell no. I don't speak perfect Spanish. I say y'all often. I would dare to say I'm too Pocho to be Latina. This break in my identity is what forced me to fully embrace my unique Texas Mexican...ahem Tejano upbringing.
I grew up as a ranchero, a vaquero, a cowgirl if you will. Complete with blingy butt jeans.
PC: Gimme a sec...
*Looks up "Pocho"*
*Laughs because this is about the time Jess is wondering why the hell her phone is asking her what Pocho means*
Girl, I'm not even a Tejana and I say y'all like it's going out of style. As for the blingy butt jeans, well...it's okay. We all have phases like that we'd like to forget. Although I'm going to go out on a limb and say that blingy butt jeans will never be as bad a fashion choice as sequenced Uggs on anyone over the age of 10. As for not feeling Latina enough...here's an eggroll. That should help.
You have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine, AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON?
JM: Gloria Anzaldua, the author of La Frontera/Borderlands. She is an iconic Texas Feminist writer. Her words made me realize that it was okay for me to feel divided as a Mexican American.
For dinner we would eat some good old fashioned Ranch cooking. Cabrito Guisada, Tripas, and of course Mesquite smoked Fajitas with Fresh tortillas and aguacate con Chile Picin. I don't drink wine so an ice cold Budweiser would have to do.
PC: I'm both hungry and allergic to your answer. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)
JM: I live in South Texas so ice cream meets a rapid death and most times I'm slurping it like an amazing chocolate soup
PC: I lived in Tucson for four years. I chewed my ice cream then, too, but I think that just makes me weird. One Latina stereotype you despise?
JM: The Virgen and the Malinche paradox. Essentially, it breaks down to the Virgin and the Whore and feeds the one-dimensional characteristics of the Fiery Latina sexpot. I'm tired of non-Latino men ask me if I'm a good cook and if its true that Latina women are there to serve. Apparently, I have to be a great lover, an exceptional cook, and look like a Salma Hayek/Sophia Vergara hybrid. No mama, that's just too much work.
PC: You got that right, sister, One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)
JM: Strength. We have a silent strength that binds our families together and in my family it was the matriarchs who were the glue, the center, the sun.
PC: Describe your perfect day.
JM: Spending the day on a wrap around porch with a good book.
PC: Sounds beautiful. Any eggrolls left?
And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me here or here with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week’s reader wants to know how to make the boy she likes realize she exists.... Also, be sure to send me your questions to email@example.com.
Who likes Pretty Pictures? Check out my #chingonafest (and my non-hashtagged stuff, too) on my newly renamed Etsy Shop at Pauline Campos Studios. and have And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and more art available on Society6. More designs and products coming soon!
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Forward, always. Together… stronger.