By: Elisabet Medina
Dolores Huerta, if you don’t know this name keep reading. She is the mother of farm worker rights, fought side by side with Cesar Chavez as co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America and came up with “Si Se Puede” which inspired Obama’s campaign slogan Yes We Can. “Huerta has served as a community activist and a political organizer, and was influential in securing the passage of California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, and disability insurance for farmworkers in California”1. Huerta was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. Overall, she is a Latina icon, personal hero and badass. Well into her 80s, she continues the good fight via the Dolores Huerta Foundation and encourages women to take credit for what they do.
Watching the documentary, Dolores which follows Huerta’s life’s story as a mother, activist and leader I wondered how it was possible that so few people know of this social justice warrior and her profound effect on American life. Huerta’s lack of mainstream recognition got me thinking about how invisible women’s labor can be- paid, unpaid, emotional, mental, physical; this work often goes unnoticed or uncredited. Recently, I have heard Chef Dominica, owner of the Oakland restaurant Cosecha say; “women should give themselves executive titles”.
If you are a volunteer that works with youth; call yourself a youth leader or mentor.
If you are a leader at your work, advocate that your title reflect your responsibilities.
If you play the guitar, call yourself a musician.
We don’t have to wait for another to legitimize or validate our contributions.
It is ok to embrace all the facets of who we are and to give ourselves credit for the work we do, this might seem foreign at first or feel out of the ordinary but the truth is that often men have been socialized towards self-promotion and to respond to titles. Whereas as women, are often socialized to take supporting roles and our behind the scenes work never quite gets the same amount of limelight.
As a leader, daughter, sister, volunteer, I want to honor the people around me and give recognition where it is merited. I hope that each of us takes the time to celebrate the women who have made heroic differences on a national scale like Dolores Huerta. And those who impact us on a deeply personal level like our mothers and grandmothers; whom without their everyday sacrifices our lives would be radically different. Let us honor ourselves and each other, in words and actions, bringing to light the amazing heroes that are making a difference in our community and our lives.
By: Elisabet Medina
I still remember the first time I sang, I was eight years old, standing next to Carlos Serra’s piano in front of the whole church. The song was Lord I give you my heart. I remember my heart climbing out of chest and my stomach sinking to the floor, and all of those eyes staring at me. Then I closed my eyes and let those notes come out of breath like magic.
As a teen, I lived for being a part of worship band not only because that’s what the cool kids did, although that was a part of it and also because I started learning how to be expressive and channel all of the energy towards connecting people to God through music.
After college, I continued to sing, I found that the way I engaged the music, the people and God matured. On Sunday afternoons there was that sweet exhaustion from having sang at the top of my lungs, songs that mattered, songs that reminded people of the goodness, greatness and love of God.
Moving to San Francisco, I took a year off and it didn’t do me any good. Transition to a new city, going through a break up, the starting over again feeling. March 2017, I auditioned for the church band. I felt rusty, the mic felt like a foreign object. I made the cut, rehearsed a couple times but still wasn’t quite ready.
Where was that woman that used to bring the house down? I don’t think she was home. In her place, was me with a shaky confidence and voice to match. Fast forward a year, and I still felt stuck.
Then an unthinkable occurrence, March 15, 2018 I was financially scammed. I lost about a month’s wages and in the aftermath of dealing with the police, my bank, and about half a dozen customer service people who told me there was nothing they could do for me; I missed a rehearsal. And then missed the opportunity to sing that Saturday. It all seemed foiled, squandered.
I felt violated, useless, and humiliated. Later that day, I told my sister all that had happened. It was like she could see my heart in its greyness and splintered state. Heidi prayed, and it broke through to reveal light and hope and release.
I met with band leader telling her all that had happened, it was that vulnerable encounter that spurred me on to keep going, to have courage. After a few weeks of practice and giving it all I got, the day arrived to sing for a retreat of 150 women...and I woke up sick as a dog. I NEVER get sick, of all the days!
I prayed God, please let this not be about me; let this be about you, use me to bless these women who are hungry for you. And I all I can tell you is that I sang and I could feel parts of me coming back alive, parts that had been dormant, I found my voice again. Even when we are shaken, God is the anchor of our souls. I rediscovered my courage and confidence again, in worship, in service, in community and in a God that is so much bigger than any theft, breakup or despair. It's because God sings over us, that we can praise and worship God right back.
"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing."