Punto Final: “¡Que Viva La Mujer!”
By Senior Master Sergeant Sonora L. Vasquez, USAF
The United States dedicates the month of March for celebrating influential mujeres throughout history and present day, a mission that LATINA Style, Inc. embraces throughout the year. Mujeres fuertes y poderosas with names that sound like mine and facial features similar to my own—Dolores Huerta, Rigoberta Menchú, Ellen Ochoa, Major General Linda Urrutia-Varhall, and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard—these women make me want to shout “¡Que viva la mujer!” Although said in jest, it is an honor—an honor to stand on the shoulders of phenomenal Latinas who carry the torch as Human Rights Activists, Chief Executive Officers, Military Service Members, and Congresswomen.
This list; however, is not exhaustive. Este mes también celebramos the “everyday” woman—our abuelas, madres, hermanas, y amigas. Although these mujeres are not known to a national audience, they are celebrated within families and communities as leaders, influencers, mentors, and teachers—they are the matriarchs.
Rosemary Apodaca, my mother, was raised in Logan Heights, a poor neighborhood in San Diego, California. Mi abuela y mi abuelo, both immigrants of Mexican descent, were cannery workers from Nogales and Tijuana, respectively. As a child, my mother did not recognize socioeconomic differences—everyone appeared as equals in Logan Heights. After high school, she began to view the world from a different lens, prompting her to join the Chicano Movement. She used theater as a platform to speak her truth and to raise awareness regarding racial disparities and immigration. She later joined El Teatro Campesino, a Chicano theater company, founded by Luis Valdez in Delano, California, which later moved to San Juan Bautista, California. There she performed “actos” and songs of the Chicano movement to highlight Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers Union while promoting the rights of farmworkers. Her voice resonated throughout the movement, especially with memorable songs like De Colores, El Picket Sign, Huelga En General and No Nos Moverán. Also during this period – and as a single parent – she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts and a Master of Social Work.
My mother’s story is not unique, as there are many women who have overcome obstacles to persevere against all odds. My mother’s strength and determination have instilled within me courage, fortitude, and tenacity to fight for social justice. Women, in general, have needed to overcome pervasive sexism within society. Latinas have had to overcome two obstacles: being Latina and being women. Through her journey, my mother’s example has served me well.
Let’s take a moment to recognize and appreciate the strengths that women have brought to our lives. They are organizers on a national level and mujeres who strengthen us through our everyday relationships. These individual experiences are what connect us to the larger tapestry that makes us a movement, and they are woven into our individual stories as women and leaders. LATINA Style, Inc. has continued to recognize Latinas in positions of influence and power and by doing so they underscore the message “¡sí se puede!”