Updated: Aug 18
It's been a busy spring and summer filled with travel. Lucky to have the opportunity to visit South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia. We also took several Northern and Southern California road trips to visit friends. The final summer travel is a weekend trip to Seattle to celebrate our friends' wedding.
I also have been recording some small vignettes to bring back my Stairwell Teatro series. I started the Stairwell Teatro in 2020 during the early part of the pandemic, but quit doing it for various reasons; Stairwell Teatro 2023 will be back very soon with two small monthly episodes -- bite-size stories about names. Stay tuned.
At the end of our Africa trip in May, I caught a bug and returned with an upper respiratory infection followed by asthma which waylaid me for several weeks. Fortunately, it was not COVID, which often appears at the end of many trips, especially if a trip involves international travel. No sooner was I recovered than I broke a toe; nothing exciting, just banged my foot on a bedpost.
I finally visited The Cheech -- Riverside Art Museum in Riverside, California. Cheech Marin became famous in the Cheech and Chong stoner movies. He is the foremost collector of Chicano artists, and finally, a museum was built befitting his collection. It was a thrill to visit. Check out their website. Become a member; I just did. My friend Maria from Tucson, told me she was a member of The Cheech. And until she said that it never crossed my mind that I could become a museum member of a museum that's located outside of where I live. Maria is spot-on; it's important that we support cultural institutions that reflect and celebrate our community.
Another highlight was visiting Chicano Park in San Diego, with many murals underneath the massive freeway concrete structures. Among my favorites was the tribute to educators, which included a painting of our friend Gus Chavez, whom I always admired, and whose daughter cared for our son Tony, when he was in pre-school, and she was an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley. We love and admire the Chavez family and their commitment to social justice.
I've also been doing some public speaking, which I enjoy and find rewarding. Thrilled to be the keynote speaker at Northern California's Princeton Prize for Race Relation Award Ceremony. This program recognizes outstanding high school students working to advance racial equity in their communities. If you know high school students working for racial equity in your community, encourage them to apply. More info on their website.
In June, I traveled to Oceanside, California – my foot still in a special shoe for my broken toe. There, I gave the closing keynote speech at WomanUp! Retreat a gathering of women leaders in the real estate industry, mostly from California, and a few from other states. This annual conference attracts many industry leaders -- women of color (Latinas, African American, and Asian Americans) and white women. The presentations reflected WomanUp!'s commitment to furthering women's leadership and addressing issues of equity and social justice in the real estate sector. It was an honor to be the closing speaker, and I'm glad I could be there for two days of inspirational presentations.
This past weekend I was a keynote speaker at Take Charge, the Lean In Latinas Northern California conference. It was the group's first in-person gathering in three-plus years, and the event was sold-out!! Few things are more rewarding than speaking to a gathering of Latinas. It was a day filled with learning and so many personal connections. WOW, can't wait for next year's Lean In Latinas conference.
On September 21st, I'll be the featured guest at Oye Vecinos, the annual fundraising event for TN Justice for Our Neighbors, an immigrant rights organization whose offices I visited while my show was in Nashville earlier this year. I am eager to see the many wonderful folks I met on my two previous trips to Nashville.
NASHVILLE PEEPS, yes, I'm talking to you: come on out to support TNJFON and say hello. I'd love to see you at Nashville's historic public library on September 21st.
From Nashville, I'll go to my beloved San Antonio, where I'll present my play at St. Mary's University, my alma mater. Looking forward to seeing family and friends from South Texas who live in the San Antonio area or are willing and able to travel. I'm still thinking about the changes I'll make to the play to address the refusal to teach about the history and contributions of Mexican Americans, African Americans, and other marginalized groups, including women and our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
Our stories are being excluded from lesson plans, textbooks, and all types of supplemental reading that should be available to all students. Because my play is only one-hour, I can't cover all the topics worthy of consideration: women's reproductive freedom, cruelty and abuses of immigrants, and using them as political pawns and fodder. Stay tuned.
Finally, I'll perform at Arizona State University's Kerr Performing Arts Center on December 10th, a 2 pm matinée in Scottsdale, Arizona. One of my top goals this year was to perform in Arizona, and I'm so pleased to be there in December rather than now, given the record-breaking heat in Arizona.
If you have friends in Nashville, San Antonio, or the Phoenix area, please tell them I'll be in these cities.
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Love and peace to all y'all.