And we’re back! This week, we return to Austin, Texas, where Jessica N. Diaz-Hurtado is currently focusing her creative energies into her Master’s thesis in Latin American Studies. She’s done many awesome things, including donating her work towards the revitalization of Third Woman Press! Check her out below.
Third Woman Press Collective (TWPC): Hey there, Jessica! It’s a pleasure to be chatting with you, thanks for setting time aside for us! Let’s start with where you’re geographically located?
Jessica N Diaz-Hurtado (JDH): This is a crazy question! Especially right now since I’m studying geographies and space, so I guess that’s what you really mean about geographic location. Haha! Currently, I am physically in Austin, Texas earning my master’s degree in Latin American Studies. My heart is in the DC area where I was born and raised. But my roots are in Colombia and El Salvador.
TWPC: Yes! We leave pieces of ourselves in so many places, it is quite possible to feel yourself present across borders. How would you define your feminism?
JDH: How do I define feminism?…hmmm. Before, I used to not even identify with that word because I felt like it was a “white woman and elite” thing. But after going to school and engaging in many conversations with friends, professors, classmates, the women in family and women from all walks of life, I feel that feminism is another way to say equality for all genders –all people really. Just because the word “feminine” is in it, doesn’t mean it’s just for woman-identified people. It’s justice and being proud of the resistance we grow in as people who are pushed to the margins.
TWPC: Exactly, we totally agree with that. There is definitely some implications with the word feminism by itself, but it’s constantly being transformed and rethought to mean different things for different people. What keeps you busy?
JDH: Right now I am in my master thesis year here at UT-Austin, so reading, writing and editing are my life. I focus on how young people in Rio de Janeiro utilize hip hop as a tool to reclaim space and build identity. I just got back from Rio in August actually so I just write, write, write, and am editing a short documentary-styled web series on this same topic called Ta Ligado: Rodas e Hip Hop no Rio (You Feel Me?: Cyphers and Hip Hop in Rio). You can check out the project at http://www.taligadohiphop.com. When I’m not doing this, I am a teacher’s assistant with UT-Austin and teach U.S. Social Movements to freshmen. I’m also looking for jobs abroad to apply to and conceptualizing new video projects!
TWPC: That’s awesome! It sounds like you have an amazing project going on, celebrating how youth are able to create spaces for themselves! We are sending endless good luck to you as you work on your thesis. What influenced your decision to help fundraise for Third Woman Press?
JDH: I met Maribel Falcon through a M.E.Ch.A conference in Phoenix, and so after moving to Austin, I figured I’d hit her up to get in touch with POC art and activist communities. She invited me to participate in the TWP fundraiser she was organizing by donating art. I’ve always heard of TWP and always wanted to participate in some way, so I thought that submitting a piece would be a dope opportunity.
TWPC: Indeed it was! Thanks so much for your donation, Jessica. What was your favorite detail, performance, interaction, etc., from the fundraiser you participated in?
JDH: The fact that it was a dance party! If anyone knows me, they know I love to dance! And I knew almost more than half of the people there! It definitely felt like a community. I even sold my piece and got to meet the woman who bought it. It was a very personable event and we got to take cool pics to remember that night. I knew the organizers and DJs; it felt like a safe and fun space.
TWPC: That’s awesome. We so wish we could have all been there! We’re glad you had so much fun, it looks like it was a great time. For the feminist artists just getting started, what kind of tips do you have for them?
JDH: To tap into the uncomfortable places, the places that not only make you happy but those that make you cringe, those places you want to forget about. As feminist artists, I think it is super important to look to those wounds because it is what helps us heal. And what better way to heal than to use our art as a way for not only self love, but to create dialogue amongst women wherever your art goes?
TWPC: Beautiful advice, Jessica. Is there any specific area, field, or place that you feel really needs a feminist intervention right now?
JDH: I think most spaces need a feminist intervention right now. It is hard to pinpoint an area or field because most places stem from capitalism and patriarchy. I think the room I’m currently in needs a feminist intervention, the places I’ll go tomorrow, the museums, historical sites, schools, employment spaces, all need a feminist intervention. Because when you say feminist intervention I hear, “Which places need equality?” Our presence as women I think help create it, but our tools, words and self-empowerment help deliver that message.
TWPC: That’s an insightful way of looking at it. We do indeed face capitalism and patriarchy in most spaces. We especially like that you endorse self-love and creativity as means through which to empower ourselves. So, what kinds of things do you like to do for fun?
JDH: I love to consume art that helps me inspire my own art –writing and painting. I enjoy traveling and discovering beaches and nature sites in whatever place I’m at. I come from a big city so I really enjoy checking out different art and restaurant spots as well. But at the end of the day, I love being with my people –my friends, family, and loved ones– and just chilling.
TWPC: Nice! We’re happy that you find time to explore and enjoy the company of your loved ones. Awesome. Since you helped TWP raise money, what is one thing that excited you about the revitalization or what would you like to see TWP do overall?
JDH: I am really excited about other events and publications TWP will organize and sponsor! I would love to see more women from different ethnicities and backgrounds represented, along with their work that they are doing in their own communities. Would love to see more of a geographic diversity (women from New Orleans, Seattle, Philadephia for instance). And also Latinas from different nationalities! I think this could create a wonderful opportunity for a feminist network to grow and use the Internet as a way to create these connections bringing us all together while learning from each other.
TWPC: We love it, Jessica! We’re working hard to really kick off TWP again, and it’s thanks to our wonderful supporters, such as yourself, that we are going to soon be able to do many things for women of color and feminist artists!
Many thanks and positive vibes sent to Jessica as she continues work on her Master’s thesis. Don’t forget to check out her awesome project Ta Ligado: Rodas e Hip Hop no Rio (You Feel Me?: Cyphers and Hip Hop in Rio) online! As always, we thank our readers for your continued support, and hope you stay tuned for more Feminist Fistbumps!