It’s WEEK 24 for the Aspiring Mama #Chingonafest Fridays. Last week, I took a look back at my interview with proud feminist Veronica Arreola and this week, I'm (hopefully) back on track with a new interview! 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.
This week's Featured Chingona is an amazing woman I met at the LATISM conference a few years ago when she spoke on a mental health panel I moderated. She is a nationally recognized and award winning mental health advocate, speaker, and trainer She received her B.A. in Political Science and M.P.A from New Mexico Highlands University, where she served as the first female elected Student Body President and was appointed to the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education. Ane is trained and certified in suicide prevention through the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program and has provided training services for schools, communities, including on the Navajo Reservation. And if that's not enough, An also was crowned Miss New Mexico n 2005, she was crowned Miss New Mexico and competed at the national Miss America Pageant.
And on to the interview!
Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?
Ane Romero: Caramel. I’d eat a shoe if it was covered in caramel.
PC: And I'll call this proof that beauty queens like food. Hell, I'd eat a shoe covered in caramel. Probably why we get along. Favorite book and why:
AR: Oh, this is tough. I absolutely love books, but if I had to pick one it would be “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird” by Henry Miller. It’s a series of short stories and essays about his philosophy on life and a book that I “grow into” as I get older and every time I go back to it I learn something new.
PC: Ya know? I think we need to start a ChingonaFest Book Club. Oprah's had her 15 minutes and ya'll make me want to pick up a new book with these great answers. What's your favorite quote?
AR: Some of my favorite quotes is a line from Vince Lombardi’s “What It Takes To Be Number 1” speech.
“Winning is not a sometime thing, it is an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while…you do them right all the time.”
To me it’s a reminder that when you do something with good heart, pure intention, and give your all—you will never lose even if you don’t “win.”
PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?
AR: If wanting equal opportunity for women (or men) to live, lead, and fulfill their dreams makes me a feminist, then sure I guess I am.
PC: Describe yourself in third person.
AR: Well, in 7th grade my history teacher told my dad that I was a, ”firecracker” after I noted that I did not like the term “minority,” because to me it meant less-than and I was no less than anyone else in the room. Then again I was called this in college when I spoke out against the proposal to raise tuition. Some might say “firecracker,” but I like to think more “fireworks.” J Okay…I don’t think I correctly answered this question?
PC: No you sucked at it and it's beautiful because it's honest. I'm totally smiling now. Who inspires you? Those who have overcome adversity in their life and never give up on their dreams.
AR: Who is it you hope to inspire? I would hope to inspire youth, by letting them know just how important and valuable they are. I don’t think our society does a good job at appreciating young people and what they have to offer. I would also like to inspire others through my work in mental health and help breakdown the negative stigmas that often keep people from seeking help. As my former boss Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano, says “there is no health without mental health.”
PC: I agree and this is such an important topic in the Latino community. Let's keep working together on this, yeah? But first, do you dream in color or black and white?
AR: Color and sometimes glitter…
PC: Glitter and caramel and word tangents. I do believe I'm in love with you. Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?
AR: Let’s be friends and do you have Instagram" (because you know any Chingona has a great Instagram).
PC: How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?
AR: The depiction of Latinas has come a long way, but we still have much more to overcome. The day we have a Latina version of Olivia Pope or with a role as the President of the United States, then I will really feel like we have arrived.
PC: Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...
AR: Empathy. I would want them to know that this quality will enable them to see the beauty in others and with that will follow an appreciation and respect for life.
PC: I think I'd like your kids. One childhood memory that has stuck with you...
AR: The car broke down and so my mom had no other choice, but to carry me in the snow to the babysitter. As I wrapped my tiny arms around her neck I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of pride and love. My mom has and always makes the impossible possible.
PC: Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?
AR: I think in “feelings,” if that makes sense? I always try to be conscious of my words, but sometimes nothing really captures the meaning like Spanish. I mean, try translating Mana’s song, “Vivir sin Aire” in English and all the umph just totally goes out the window, but in Spanish it’s a pure masterpiece.
PC: Kind of like "Sana, Sana Colita de Rana" makes no damned sense in English but in Spanish it's all MY BOOBOO STOPPED HURTING MAMA! Right? What's your favorite dish? Why?
AR: My favorite food is a hot dog with mustard, but my favorite dish is fried papas (potatoes) with thinly sliced onions and red New Mexican chile. I love this dish because whenever I eat it, I know I’m home.
PC: Do you feel "Latina enough"?
AR: This is hard to answer, because I have never been anything other than Latina. Our culture has so many facets that you can’t just lump it all into one mix. I think that too many times there is this assumption of what “being Latino” is, but none of us who are Latino will ever fit neatly into a “box.” We are linked by a common thread, but I believe the intricacy of our culture is what really makes us who we are. So at the end of the day, I would say yes...even if there is so much more for me to learn.
PC: Wow. Ok, so Ane wins the Internet with that answer. Love it! 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?
AR: My great-grandmother Ane, whom I am named after. We would eat ribs from Silky O’Sullivans. I first tried these ribs on a trip to Memhis, TN and they were so delicious I literally got teary eyed. I would probably pair them with Capuline wine (choke cherry wine) and apple pie made from the apples in her orchard. I never got to meet her, but any time someone talks about her their face lights up. She use to play the harmonica and loved music. She and my great-grandfather built their house with their own two hands, which still stands today. She was independent, strong willed, admired, and respected. Being named after her, I have always felt a sense of responsibility to live a life that would make her proud to carry on her name.
PC: I want in on this meal. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)
AR: Hmm…I never really gave thought about it. Probably because if and when I do eat ice cream it’s usually annihilated in seconds.
PC: Especially if served in a shoe covered in caramel. One Latina stereotype you despise?
AR: All of them. Being from New Mexico I can’t tell you the absurd things I have heard whenever I travel elsewhere. The top one being, “what part of Mexico are you from.” The look of confusion on some faces when you note that New Mexico is a state is always classic. I once had to literally show a clerk where New Mexico was on a map, because she said the store could not accept “foreign” driver licenses as proof of ID. She called her manager, who immediately apologized to me. I laughed so hard I cried. J
PC: So I was in the the fourth grade when I realized New Mexico was part of the United States during a social studies report and I was SO mad. I'm still getting over it. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)
AR: That we are all “great cooks.” I can’t cook to save my life, but if others assume that I can because I’m Latina, well then who am I to ruin their dream?
PC: Describe your perfect day.
AR: May 30, 2015. That is when I get married, so it doesn’t get much better than being surrounded by all the people you love…and cake. Oh how I LOVE cake!
PC: Is it caramel? And where's my invite? *winks*
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 if she is aiming high enough with her dreams.
Also, be sure to send me your questions to email@example.com.
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