My public scholar project Mariposa de Barrio is part of my dissertation research which examines the ways in which late singer Jenni Rivera’s fans, remember her locally (Long Beach, CA), transnationally (Mexico), and through cyber culture (YouTube and social media). I am interested in the intersections of music as a day-to-day listening practice in both digital and non-digital fan cultures. Jenni Rivera’s experience as a working-class single mother, who experienced domestic violence and sexual abuse motivated her to use music to empower women who were going through similar situations. Thus, inspired by Jenni Rivera’s music and legacy this project is named Mariposa de Barrio to represent the vision and life stories of working class women and girls as agents of social transformation, and producers of knowledge.
A study I conducted with girls in 2013 inspired me to see my work reaching and connecting with larger audiences. Audiences that many times do not navigate the world through text-based knowledge. For this reason, this project will have a strong non-textual component like film, music, and art. I have a background in documentary film making so I want to put that skill to practice by teaching the girls how to use film and music to tell their own stories and feel empowered. I selected to collaborate with the Long Beach Public Library because this site has a particular intimate connection with the gendered social spaces that Jenni Rivera navigated as a girl. In addition, many Jenni girl fans also gather in the library to use their public services (tutoring, and computers).
Several weeks ago, I visited the Library to talk about the workshops that I have been planning for the Mariposa de Barrio Project, and the Librarians were very supportive and excited about me volunteering there (particularly because I was a girl patron there many years ago). In fact, they told me that I could do whatever I want. Hearing those words made me excited and nervous at the same time. The librarian told me that the library theme for this summer is “Ready, Set, Go!”
I am still in the planning stages of the workshops and will work closely with the librarians and girls to figure out what we want to do collectively. Some ideas for the workshops that I shared with the librarian are:
- Photo-Voice, a methodology that prompts community members to tell their stories through music and photography
- Re-writing song workshop a process of re- making a song from your own perspective.
- Workshops about using art and film to tell your own story
- Film screenings that relate to women empowerment.
- Book Club meetings
Regardless of what we choose, my goal is that over the summer, we can practice arts and humanities based pedagogies informed by women of color feminist theories and praxis. The summer is not much time, but I hope that it is the beginning to a longer partnership with them.