Latina Rebel unapologetically closes the Women’s Leadership Conference

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Posted Thu, Mar 30, 2017

DENVER, Auraria Campus– Prisca Dorcas Rodriguez, founder of Latina Rebels, closed the 21st Annual Women’s Leadership Conference with laughter, realness and advice on March 9, 2017 at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Audience members at the Tivoli Turnhalle listen to Prisca Rodriguez speak. [Photo: Miriam Mimi Madrid]

A racially diverse audience of about 70 people gathered at the Tivoli Turnhalle sighing, laughing and gasping in unison during Rodriguez’s engaging comments. MSU Denver Chicano studies professor Christina M. Sigala said that inviting speakers like Rodriguez to the campus is imperative for the retention of students of color at MSU.

Rodriguez opened the keynote by sharing a disclaimer to those in the room. She told everyone that she uses profanity in her speeches, that her presentations are conversational, and finally that she tells stories in abuela narrative in a non-linear fashion. “Yes, mija, say it,” Sigala said.

The many faces of Prisca Rodriguez founder of Latina Rebels. [Photo: Miriam Mimi Madrid]

According to their Tumblr account, Latina Rebels, is an online platform managed by a collective of brown Latinas whose mission through writing, social media and meme generating is “to f*ck with your colonized expectations of acceptability.”

Rodriguez spoke about her journey as a young Nicaragüense uprooted from her homeland and transplanted in Miami.  She shared about the obstacles she faced trying to attend college, the oppression she endured as a brown student and her continual struggle to honor her parents while she unapologetically tells her truth.

The conference she closed as a keynote was titled #sorrynotsorry: Unapologetic Leadership, and centered topics of self-preservation, deconstructing myths of leadership, embracing conflict and wellness for women leaders. During the first breakout session of the conference parenting students, Queer and Trans people of color and undocumented students each had their own caucus spaces to gather, connect and exchange information with each other.

Rebecca Reid, an MSU Denver senior, attended the workshop titled Debunking the Gender Socialization of Leadership and said that the nugget of knowledge she took from it was the concept of amplification. She feels that the voices and opinions of women get brushed over and ignored constantly. “Amplification helps us reinforce the ideas and visibility of other women. It is something that I have practiced but now have a name to the concept,” Reid said.

Karla Sanchez, conference attendee, said that it was “inspiring to see brown women like Prisca speak.”

MSU Denver senior Rebecca Reid asks Prisca Rodriguez a question during the Q&A. [Photo: Miriam Mimi Madrid]

However, not everyone felt connected to the speaker. Reid said that she appreciated Rodriguez’s perspective and interesting storytelling, but felt like she excluded white people by using derogatory terms. Rodriguez used terms like ‘Becky’ to signify white women. “I wasn’t offended by it, what I didn’t like is that I don’t know how her talk related to the rest of the conference.”

Rodriguez said that white people taught her about racism in college when they perceived her existence and body as violent. “They would tell me that they didn’t want to make me mad, or else I would beat them up.”

Rodriguez also spoke about classism and elitism impacting universities and college students. She went on to explain that being woke, being aware of the oppression, and actively analyzing and deconstructing it comes with downfalls. “Being woke means that you will be displaced,” Rodriguez said.

Sharing two poems, one titled Dear Woke Brown Girl, Rodriguez reads, “You carry the hood in your veins and academia in your heart. You have not forgotten where you come from, but have learned and earned your way into spaces not meant for you. Spaces that are uninviting to your kind.”

Prisca Rodriguez and conference organizers back stage after her presentation. [Photo: Miriam Mimi Madrid]

The Women’s Leadership Conference has been creating space for women’s leadership and empowerment since 1996 and conference organizers plan on continuing the legacy for years to come. Each year the conference features workshops, presentations, panels in an academic setting that brings women and people of other genders together to discuss and share knowledge about leadership.

Rodriguez assured the audience that wisdom and education comes in different forms and is not exclusive to formalized higher education. “You don’t need an education to be woke. My Mami is woke as f*ck,” she said.

Sanchez agrees with Rodriguez that there is a specific wisdom that comes from being the children of parents who uprooted and replanted in a foreign land specifically for their families.

“Our parents teach us wisdom that goes beyond academia,” Sanchez says, “the type of wisdom that is learned through experience and sacrifices.  I’ll never learn that in school.”

Visit Latina Rebels on Twitter @latinarebels or through their Tumblr page.

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Miriam Mimi Madrid

7 Responses to “Latina Rebel unapologetically closes the Women’s Leadership Conference”

  1. Montana Martin Says:

    You had a lot of great quote. Many kudos to you for engaging with multiple perspectives.

    Reply

  2. Madison Says:

    This is a great event to cover, and you covered it really well. There’s a lot of detail in the story, not just about the keynote speaker, but the rest of the conference as well. Those details are important. Great quotes as well.

    Reply

  3. Aaron Germani Says:

    Great story. You used a lot of awesome quotes in this story. You also had a lot of details within the story to tell us all about what the event was. Awesome job.

    Reply

  4. Audrey Frye Says:

    This was great ! As a Latina, I enjoyed reading about these empowered women. I really appreciated the different perspectives. Great job and I like the photos!

    Reply

  5. Molly Bercow Says:

    The quotes added a lot of great depth to the piece! This was a very well covered event! Good job!

    Reply

  6. Suzanne Shapiro Says:

    A real “attention getter!” This was a very informative story with much detail. You are exceptionally talented with getting a point across without boring the reader. A substantial story that kept my attention until the end.

    Reply

  7. Carly Cormier Says:

    The pictures included are really great and give the story character! This was a really interesting event, something I would definitely attend in the future!

    Reply

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