"Empowering Latinas and reclaiming our narrative through tees, postcards, and more."
If there is anything that could describe this brand, it is probably the quote above. This women-owned and led brand is ran by Natalie Montelongo. She is actively reclaiming the word Latina and inspiring other Latinas to do so. In today's day and age with so much political and racial tension going on, it is important to unite stronger than ever. Not only that, but we live in a country where the public education system fails teach us where we come from. Yes, it covers United States history, presidents, wars, treaties, but does not answer the question: "Where do I come from?" In a conversation with Natalie, it's evident that she felt the same. We are both from different border towns in Texas, but we both saw how we were failed by not learning about our roots sooner.
I asked Natalie to give me a little background on herself and why she chose to create this brand. She started off by saying, "I was born in Brownsville (Texas) but I grew up in Matamoros (Mexico). My family and I crossed everyday. It was my parent's dream for me to go to school in the U.S, but it was an exhausting two-hour line to cross every morning." Natalie mentioned that she was mentally exhausted by the end of each day as well. She then added that in Brownsville the majority of it's population looked like her and that she didn't catogorize herself as a Latina at a young age. Even when she went to college in San Antonio there were a lot of people like her and she still felt like she had in Brownsville. When she studied abroad in Paris, it was the first time people started asking her what she was. "Are you Mexican? American? Where do you live? Where do you consider home?" It was in Paris where she first started explaining to people who she was and where she came from.
Natalie moved to Washington D.C in 2011 and she mentioned that, "it was in D.C where I started owning it (the word Latina). With all the people I met, I started questioning my use of the word Hispanic. Californians don't use the word Hispanic they use Chicano/a. I feel like my state did me a disservice with how they taught me. I should not use the word Hispanic. I am not from Spain."
However, fast-forward to this past presidential election, Natalie worked on Hillary Clinton's campaign. When she was talking about her campaigning, she asked me if I remembered Trump's hateful speech against immigrants to which I replied "yes". Natalie told me that while campaigning and going from door to door a person answered the door wearing their Make America Great Again t-shirt and asked her if she was one of "those illegals." It was in that moment that Natalie knew she had to do something. "My best friend on the campaign and I looked for a small printshop in Denver (where she was at the time) and we printed 30 shirts that said "The Future is Latina" and we gave them out for free to the women campaigning with us. I also wrote them a little letter basically telling them they are worth it and to own the fact that they are Latina." Right after that, Natalie started getting requests from everywhere and that forced her to open an Esty shop. "I think it has developed into much more. I feel like we have built a small network of women." Natalie also mentioned that there should be no label on what makes up a "good" and a "bad" immigrant. With this brand she also hopes that women can reclaim their roots. "Fuck yeah. We are Latinas. We are also la muy muy and la sabelotodo." She wants Latinas to embrace that as well.
Natalie is definitely making a difference and her passion for this project speaks for itself. I am proud of where I come from and seeing women empowering other women is the best thing ever. You can follow The Future is Latina on Instagram as futureislatina. The link to the Esty shop is on there as well. Go check it out and show them love and support!
Daniel Martinez is February’s artist of the month. A native El Pasoan and humble individual, his art clearly portrays iconic places/things throughout El Paso. It is wonderful because it speaks for itself and it can make one nostalgic especially if one is an El Paso native living elsewhere. I believe that his art is vibrant and even though sometimes there are a lot of things being portrayed at once, it is not overwhelming at all. It is part of it. It’s amazing to see how celebrated El Paso is! He is a multi-faceted artist that does not only stick to El Paso-related art. It’s all kinds of art! From Frida Khalo to La Virgen de Guadalupe to football related art!
He was inspired by his father who he says was very creative as well. Daniel said that he "grew up very humble." Daniel also mentioned that growing up he was “average” at school, meaning school was not his forté. However, he did great when it came to painting! Daniel has been drawing since he was four years old. His elementary school would host an art competition every year and he won five years in a row! His love for art has only grew after that.
Daniel still continues to paint and express his creative side as much as he can. He said that he is mostly a landscape artist, but lately his work features iconic El Paso places and people like the beautiful El Paso sunsets and Eddie Guerrero. He loves the warm orange-gold tones of the sunset, which he said he loves to emphasize in his paintings. Daniel is always inspired by his surroundings and he hopes people can appreciate his art. It’s amazing to see artists celebrate their hometown through art and Daniel certainly archives that.
It is highly recommended that everyone goes and checks out his art at Chuco Relic all month long!! Go follow @chucorelic on Instagram for updates!