Author Archive for Yessica Garcia

Ready, Set, Go!

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:

  1. Photo-Voice, a methodology that prompts community members to tell their stories through music and photography
  2. Re-writing song workshop a process of re- making a song from your own perspective.
  3. Workshops about using art and film to tell your own story
  4. Film screenings that relate to women empowerment.
  5. 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.

Public Scholar Rule #1 “It’s not about you”

For this public scholar project, I am returning to the public library that I attended growing up. I selected this place because I feel that I have a commitment to stay local and work with community members that I grew up with. As Professor Natallia Deeb-Sossa stated at the Public Scholars launch event that took place Winter quarter 2016, “The purpose of my research is guided by the intent, and the intent is based on who I am, on my desire to give voice to the voiceless and marginalized.” I personally do not categorize the community I work with as voiceless because they do have a voice, and use it on a daily basis to theorize about life, but in that statement I interpret professor Deeb-Sossa referring to the hierarchy of knowledge production that occurs in the academy, which prevents the University (and other institutions) from hearing what the public has to say. This hierarchy of knowledge production is highlighted in the “Introduction” of Presumed Incompetent,

“Methods of knowledge production that do not fit the model of the brilliant genius who works alone and possesses learning inaccessible to the masses, such as participatory action research, are marginalized or actively denigrated” (5).

My goal as a public scholar is not to be a “brilliant genius” but to be what Ruth Nicole Brown calls a “creative genius” who is able to recognize how art, music, and film are spaces where working-class girls and women theorize to make sense of life. In Steven Lubar’s essay “Seven Rules for Public Humanist” he states that rule #1 of being a public scholar is NOT making it about YOU. He states,

“Start not by looking at what you, your discipline, or the university needs and wants, but by what individuals and communities outside the university need and want. It’s not, “we’re from the university, and we’re here to help,” but, “What are you doing already, and how can we participate? How can we be useful?” It’s not about telling people facts. It’s a about a dialogue, a sharing of authority, knowledge, expertise”

I read this statement over and over again when writing this post, and every time I read it, this rule made it more difficult to answer the prompt of our assignment which was to “situate your public in relation to the readings.” Lubar’s rule #1 and this exercise forced me to think about my positionality, methods,  practice, and reciprocity. If it is not about me, should I have written this post collectively with my community partner?  After several weeks of thinking through this, I decided that I will re-do this activity  when I start the summer workshops. In fact, I will dedicate one workshop on exploring the question of “who are we.” My goal in this process will be to learn how to be what Lubar calls a “facilitator and translator as well as an expert.”  I look forward to learning from the girls and women I will be working with.

I am here for the “Creative Geniuses” of LB

I am here because I believe that girls and women  are agents of social transformation, producers of knowledge, and what hip-hop scholar Ruth Brown calls “creative genius” (Brown 2013, 2014). As a working-class, first generation college student, I strongly believe in the need to center the voices of working class girls of color in knowledge production about music, art, feminism, and film. Centering their voices, means questioning the way we conduct, analyze, present, and write about them. A question that often comes up for me is: How do we connect with audiences outside the university that many times do not navigate the world through text-based knowledge?  A good approach to this that I have found is to engage in participatory-action based research. The public scholars program is providing me with a weekly space where I can think through reciprocal methodologies and ethics of engaging with a public outside of the University.

07/02/15 /LOS ANGELES/ Jenni RiveraÕs granddaughter Jaylah Rivera during the unveiling of 125-foot-long mural and park named in honor of the Latin Grammy nominated singer JenniÊRivera. The event featured the unveiling of a 125-foot-long mural of Rivera, a Long Beach native. The Long Beach City Council in December approved naming the tree-acre right-of-way park after Rivera, who was killed at age 43 in a plane crash with six others in December 2012.  (Photo by Aurelia Ventura/La Opinion)

In the summer of 2016, I will kick-off the Mariposa de Barrio (Hood Butterfly) Project in Long Beach, California which uses non-textual components like film, Banda music, and art to connect with Latina girls and women.  Informed by Jenni Rivera’s music legacy, women of color feminist theories and praxis, this project will create space for girls and women to use artistic tools to both embrace and critique the meanings of culture, gender, race, and ethnicity they navigate in their lives. By the end of the program, we will curate an exhibit that will include oral histories, songs, artwork, and films that the girls/women create during our weekly workshops.