Austinite Denise Hernandez remembers sitting in a local restaurant with her fiancée and realizing that they were the only people of color dining there.
“It was a strange moment,” she says.
Hernandez, originally from Houston, says she wasn’t expecting that when she moved here. But it kept happening to her everywhere from eateries to professional events across the city. “It can make you feel uncomfortable and unwelcome,” she says.
Creating spaces and experiences for underserved communities became a priority for her. Last year, Hernandez and her fiancée, Krista Cottingim, co-founded the social enterprise Hustle for the Cause, a company focused on event production and consultation focused on giving back to the nonprofit community. After producing several events that paired local businesses with nonprofit organizations, Hustle for the Cause has decided to take on its own major event, one aimed at empowering women of color through music, art and food.
On April 7, the group will present Chingona Fest ATX, a festival that features a music line-up highlighting all female-led bands including Selena tribute band Bidi Bidi Banda, Cecilia and the Broken Hearts, Mariachi Las Coronelas, and Chulita Vinyl Club DJ collective. The fest, which starts at 3:30 p.m. at Hops & Grain Brewing, will also feature all minority female vendors. A special Chingona Beer crafted by the brewery with beer can design by Chulita Vinyl Club member Claudia G. Aparicio Gamundi will also be debuted at the event.
Most of the festival proceeds, including a portion of every beer, will benefit two local organizations that advocate for young Latina women — Con Mi Madre and Latinitas. Festival tickets, which cost $20, are available online at chingonafestatx.eventbrite.com.
“We have to recreate the narrative of what it means to be chingona,” Hernandez says. While some use the term now to describe a badass woman, that hasn’t always been the case. It’s been a word used against women.
Author Sandra Cisneros famously self-described herself as a “chingona” years ago. In a recent interview with the HuffPost, Cisneros recalls that moment in time. “I wanted to find a positive way to say ‘a woman who is on her path and who is powerful and is not being defined by a man but is being defined as a woman on her own path, on her own direction, on her own intuitive powers,’” Cisneros says.
Exploring what the term means to local Latina leaders is also the subject of a short documentary that’ll debut at the festival. “It’s time to wear (the term) like a badge of honor,” Hernandez says.
RELATED: CULTURAL ARTS IN AUSTIN
Celebrate Selena’s birthday
While not all of us snagged a limited-edition reusable Selena tote bag at H-E-B earlier this month (sniff), we can still celebrate pop culture icon Selena Quintanilla Pérez at April birthday celebrations in her honor across Austin.
The Tejano superstar — who was on the brink of crossing over to the English-language music market before she died in 1995 — would have turned 47 on April 16. Selena’s legacy lives on as new generations learn about her life, career and achievements. In the past couple of years, Selena has received numerous posthumous awards such as a spot on the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Here are some Austin events where you can honor Selena’s memory:
April 14: Son de Rey Selena tribute concert from 9-11:30 p.m. at Sahara Lounge (1413 Webberville Road)
April 15: Selena Drag Brunch from noon to 3 p.m. at Micheladas Cafe y Cantina (333 E. Second St.); Bidi Bidi Brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at El Chilito (2219 Manor Road) with dance contest, look-alike contest and singing competition. There will also be a taco-themed photobooth plus art for sale.
April 16: Alamo Drafthouse “Selena” movie party and screening at 7 p.m. at South Lamar and Village locations, 7:20 p.m. at Lakeline location. Arrive early for a pre-show featuring Selena music videos and rare interviews with the late star. Props and a lyric sheet to sing along with her music will be provided.
April 17: TuezGayz annual Selena tribute party at Barbarella (615 Red River St.). Doors open at 10 p.m. and small hourly dance tributes will happen at 11 p.m., midnight, 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.
April 18: Selena Trivia night hosted by Get it Gals from 8-10 p.m. at Hole in the Wall (2538 Guadalupe St.)
If you feel like a road trip, head to Selena’s hometown of Corpus Christi for Fiesta de la Flor, the annual two-day music festival that celebrates the life and legacy of the Queen of Tejano. Headliners include The Mavericks and Los Palominos April 13 and Becky G and Elida Reyna April 14. A fireworks finale tribute to Selena wraps up the festival.
Banned Books of Ana Castillo and Carmen Tafolla
When an Arizona law banning ethnic studies in public schools passed in 2010, students were forbidden to read a list of more than 80 books. Among them was Carmen Tafolla’s “Curandera” and Ana Castillo’s “So Far from God” and “Loverboys.”
Tafolla, San Antonio’s inaugural poet laureate who later became poet laureate of Texas, and Castillo, considered one of country’s leading Latina authors, have both blazed a trail for women of color in literature.
Now, the two women will read from their banned texts during ¡A Viva Voz!, the annual celebration of Latina/o arts and culture at the University of Texas’ Benson Latin American Collection. Following the free reading that’s open to the public, a conversation about censorship, freedom of speech and Mexican American Studies will be moderated by Angela Valenzuela, a UT professor in the College of Education. Attendees can meet the authors at a reception following the event, which begins at 7 p.m.
It’s unclear why those specific books listed were among those banned but Castillo and Tafolla’s work touch on themes ranging from gentrification to same-sex relationships. In December 2017, a federal judge declared the ban on ethnic studies unconstitutional. Copies of the banned books will be given away to attendees via raffle.
WELCOME TO CULTURA EN AUSTIN
Cultura en Austin is a monthly column highlighting Latino-related cultural events in Austin. Look for it on the last Friday of the month. You can find more news about Latino cultural art happenings on the Cultura en Austin blog at cultura.blog.austin360.com.
Nancy Flores grew up in the Texas border town of Eagle Pass and has been covering Latino culture for the American-Statesman and Austin360 since 2011. Before that, she covered Latino issues as a journalist in Mexico City. Send tips or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.