The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation offer a $625,000 grant to people recognized for “exceptional creativity” in fields related to the arts, sciences, and activism. The “Genius Grant” offered by the MacArthur Fellows Program typically goes out to 20 and 30 individuals and has been around since 1981. In the decades since the first few awards were given out, only a handful of Latinas have been awarded with the honor including Laguna Pueblo writer Leslie Marmon Silko, civil rights activist Maria Varela, and Ecuadoran immigration activist Cristina Jiménez Moreta.
This year, two Latinas were amongst the twenty-five MacArthur award winners to take home grants.
Natalie Diaz and Livia Schiavinato Eberlin were each awarded $625,000 for work within their communities.
Gracias to the @macfound team for all of your hard work and care and attention/intention toward our work and our communities. It was great to meet you each and carry you with me in this joy. And love. ❤️ https://t.co/FbXBZX5Qyl
Diaz, a Queer, Mojave Latinx poet, educator, and language activist, and educator received $625,000 to be used over the next five years from the foundation on Friday.Her previous honors have included the 2007 Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry and the Narrative Poetry Prize. Her written work includes When My Brother Was an Aztec and The Last Mojave Indian Barbie.
In an interview posted to the MacArthur Foundation site about Diaz’s converging her identities into her writing, the poet explained how she hopes her “work can offer a queer writer or a queer-identifying person, in general, is the space to one hold the ways we’ve been hurt and the ways we’ve been erased and to also hold in the other hand simultaneously the way we deserve love, our capacities for love and all of the innovative ways we’ve managed to find to express that love to one another.”
Eberlin is a Brazilian scientist and professor at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research and work have allowed for the development of new ways for researchers and doctors to identify cancerous tissue allowing patients to access improved outcomes for chemical analysis and treatment. Her work primarily focuses on the innovative ways that doctors can identify cancerous tissue in patients. In 2017 she created the MacSpec Pen, which helps doctors quickly tell the difference between healthy and cancerous tissues in surgery. Her most recent project called the MasSpec Pen grants surgeons the opportunity to decipher cancerous tissues from noncancerous tissues.
“I feel extremely honored and humbled because this is a very special fellowship that recognizes people for their talent and creativity, not for a specific project or their past work,” Eberlin told the University of Texas at Austin school newspaper. “They trust your work has and will continue to impact society and I am so thankful for that.”
Check out more about Diaz and her mission as a poet below!
The 91st Annual Academy Awards took place Sunday night and this year, it was a night full of glitz, glamour, and, most surprisingly, a lot of Spanish language! (Diego Luna, Javier Bardem, Alfonso Cuarón, and Guillermo del Toro all spoke Spanish during their speeches.)
Heading into the night, many viewed “Roma”, Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón’s artful and semi-autobiographic film, as the Best Picture front-runner and indeed, the film racked up three Oscars. But ultimately, “Roma” lost the Best Picture award to Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book.”
Although The Oscars still woefully under-represent Latinas in almost every category, Netflix’s critical darling, ‘Roma,” has provided a major spotlight for Latinx talent and stories, employing a largely Latinx cast and crew in its production.
Latinos Win Big
Sunday night was a big night for the Latinx community, with Spanish-language film “Roma” amassing three Oscar wins out of a total of 10 nominations. “Roma” wasn’t the only winner for the Latinx community though: Cuban-American director Phil Lord’s animated feature “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse” won for Best Animated Film. All in all, Latinos walked away with Oscars for Foreign Language Film, Cinematography, Directing, and Animated Film.
Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón, won the Best Director statue for “Roma”, marking the second year in a row that a Latino has won the award after Guillermo del Toro won last year. Cuarón also won the award for Best Cinematography and Best Foreign Language Film–marking the first time Mexico has landed the award out of a total of ten nominations.
Cuarón began his impassioned acceptance speech Best Director first by thanking “Roma”‘s leading ladies, Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira. He then went on to thank the Academy for “recognizing a film centering around an indigenous woman–a character who has historically been relegated to the background in cinema”.
In another win for the Latinx community, “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse” up-ended animation titan Disney to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. “Into the Spiderverse” revolves around the story of an Afro-Latino teenager moonlighting as Spiderman who discovers there are multiple versions of Spiderman in parallel universes.
Latino Director Phil Lord touched on the importance of representation in his acceptance speech, saying: “When we hear that a child turns to their parent and says, “[Spiderman] looks like me’ or ‘He speaks Spanish like us’, we feel like we already won”.
Latina Nominees Break New Ground
Most of the Latinx nominees for the night consisted of “Roma”‘s cast and crew, including Mexican actress Marina de Tavira for Best Supporting Actress, Yalitza Aparicio for Best Leading Actress, producer Gabriela Rodriguez for Best Picture, and set decorator Barbra Enriquez for Achievement in set design.
Yalitza Aparicio’s nomination, especially, was notable, as it was the first time in the Academy’s 90-year history that an Indigenous woman was nominated for Best Actress in a Lead Role.
Although these Latinas didn’t walk away with a gold statue, their presence alone was encouraging enough for the historically under-represented Latinx community.
“It’s possible to speak Spanish at the Oscars now”
The winners and nominees weren’t the only Latinos making a splash at this year’s Academy Awards, however. Oscar-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem veered into political territory when he presented the award for Best Foreign Language film.
In Spanish, he stated: “There are no borders or walls that can restrain ingenuity and talent,” which many interpreted as a dig aimed at President Trump.
Actor Diego Luna began his introduction of “Roma” by stating, in Spanish: “Ya se puede hablar español en los Oscars. Ya nos abrieron la puerta y no nos vamos a ir”. Translation: “It’s possible to speak Spanish at the Oscars now. They finally opened the door for us, and we’re not going anywhere.”
Spanish-American Chef José Andrés joined Luna in introducing “Roma”and praised the film for shining a spotlight on “all the invisible people in our lives–immigrants and women–who move humanity forward”.
As usual, Latina Twitter users had a lot to say about Hollywood’s biggest night.
Never one to beat around the bush, political commentator Ana Navarro remarked on the refreshing amount of diversity displayed onstage this year.
Other Latinas gave Alfonso Cuarón props for acknowledging domestic workers, a class of women that Hollywood often ignores:
Nuanced stories centered on domestic workers are few and far between in Hollywood.
This Latina expressed excitement at the novelty of a film featuring an Afro-Latino characters winning Best Animated Film:
Just the phrase “#WeSeeYou” says all that needs to be said about the importance of representation.
Some Latinas expressed disappointment that “Roma” was relegated to the “Foreign Film” category when its story transcended such labels:
Some members of the Latinx community were frustrated that “Roma” wasn’t awarded the Best Picture award.
Many Latinas were here for Javier Bardem condemning border walls:
He was one of the few actors of the night who dared to make a political statement–and in Spanish, no less!
And of course, Yalitza made us all fall in love with her more when she brought her mom.
The Mexican actress didn’t take home an Oscar last night, but there’s no doubting that her presence in Hollywood has changed the future of its landscape. Last night Mexican-American fans of the newcomer gushed about Aparicio’s role in bucking the light-skinned Latina stereotype that has so long been favored in Spanish-language films and TV shows.
Also, her appearance at the Oscars couldn’t have been more defining. After spending awards season turning heads in a series of dresses by Alberta Ferretti, Miu Miu and Prada, Aparicio took to the red carpet a pale tulle custom Rodarte gown designed specifically for her, the actress stepped out onto the red carpet with her mother at her side.
And finally, Latinas everywhere expressed their joy at hearing Spanish proudly spoken at the Oscars
The importance of normalizing Spanish’s presence in day to day life cannot be overstated–especially during a time when many Latinas are afraid to speak Spanish in public.
As usual, the Oscars were a night to remember. We hope that the Academy continues to support actors, producers and filmmakers of Latinx descent into the future.
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Old, grumpy, white dudes who used to listen to bands like The Exploited or Dead Kennedys like to proclaim that punk is dead, but punk is alive and thriving, thanks in large part due to young Latinx women and non-binary folks. These chingonx are doing their fair share of forming bands and writing punk protest songs that are feminist, anti-transphobic, body positive, and patriarch-smashing.
Here’s a look at 11 Latinx Punk girls changing the game.
Monsí Segura, TOZCOS and AUSENCIA
Monsé is both the singer for Toscos and the bassist for Ausencia. Originally, Monsé wanted the Santa Ana, California based Toscos to be all women, but after not finding other women to play music with, she and Corrina the Toscos drummer “let two of their guy friends join the band” after the kept begging. Growing up in a “traditional Mexican household” Monsé says that punk helped her figure out who she was “under the strict regime of [her dad], and his patriarchal expectations.”
Drew Arriola-Sands, TRAP GIRL
Drew Arriola-Sands is the singer of Trap Girl, the queer hardcore group from Los Angeles, CA. Drew is one of the founding organizers of Transgress Fest, a gathering of trans punk bands that started in 2016. Drew is featured in the 2015 film Lost Grrrls: Riot Grrrls in Los Angeles.
Kiwi Martinez, GENERACION SUICIDA
Believe it or not, there are many Latina and Latinx punk drummers. There are three on this list alone. Kiwi Martinez plays drums and sings in Spanish. Kiwi and the rest of Generacion Suicida, who play melodic punk, want you to know that they’re a band from South LA and not East LA.
Alexia Roditis, DESTROY BOYS
Alexia Roditis, not even twenty-years old (center) sings, writes lyrics, and plays guitar in Destroy Boys based in Sacramento, California. Roditis, whose father immigrated from Argentina, identifies as gender queer, “drinks mate, speaks Spanish, and all that.”
Victoria Ruiz, DOWNTOWN BOYS
Victoria Ruiz is singer and lyricist for Downtown Boys from Providence, Rhode Island. She sings in both English and Spanish and her mom and abuela can often be found watching her perform from the side of the stage. In 2017, Victoria and Downtown Boys guitarist were instrumental in forcing the South By Southwest music festival promoters to remove and change a clause in their contract that threatened to deport artists who violated the agreement and, according to their open letter, to “cease any collusion with immigration officials that puts performers in danger.”
Mari and Stevi Campos, SARCHASM
Siblings, Mari and Stevi Campos are the guitar player and drummer of the California, Bay Area, 924 Gilman punk band, Sarchasm. Both Mari and Stevi sing and write vulnerable pop punks songs that will give you all the feels. Unabashed Green Days fans, Sarchasm often play Green Day songs live and believe that gender is over. Their mom is a writer and an immigration lawyer.
Cristy C. Road, CHOKED UP
Queer Latina, Cristy C. Road (center), or Cristina Carrera, is an artist, writer, and singer/guitarist of the Brooklyn based band Choked Up. Touring the East Coast this fall, Cristy is also promoting her latest work the Next World Tarot, a deck of Tarot cards of original illustrations of gender queer and body outlaw women and non-binary folk.
San Cha is a singer, composer, and performer. She describes her music as “cumbia, church, and nightmare.” She performs as a solo artist and, at times, in the queer and POC latin beat, punk band, Sister Mantos. San Cha’s audience “has always been queer, art punx” but she says she wants to sing for everyone.
Jen Alva, Phanie Diaz, and Letty Martinez, FEA
Chicanas, Texans, and Beto O’Rourke supporters, Fea plays write songs with titles like “Feminazi,” and “Mujer Moderna” Both Phanie Diaz (drummer) and Jenn Alva (bassists) are also in the band Girl in Coma. Both bands have released records on Joan Jett’s Black Heart Records label.
Teri Gender Bender, LES BUTHERETTES
Teri Gender Bender, or Teresa Suárez Cosío, was born in the US, but grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico where she started Les Butcherretes when she was just seventeen. Les Butcherettes have release new music and are currently touring US.
Mary Regalado, DOWNTOWN BOYS
The Downtown Boys sing in both English and Spanish and write punk protest songs with titles like “The Wall,” and “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas). Bassist Mary Regelado wrote the song “Tonta” on the band’s most recent record, The Cost of Living.
If you’re not a total punk girl yourself, be sure to support the ones that are by buying their music, downloading their songs, and going to see them when they pass through town.