On Saturday, El Conquistador interviewed the much talked about Milwaukee Miijas, a group of Latinas making a splash in the greater Milwaukee area. In 2009, Mijas organized to provide Latinas a strong system of mutual support and much overdue art exposure. In a metaphorical sense, they were borne of frustration over problems of inequality; and instead of accepting the cards they were dealt, they chose to challenge a Latin-American culture where "machismo" has left us a vivid and ingrained reminder of past patriarchal practices.
Leading the Milwaukee Mijas are Nicole Acosta, Caleste Contreras, and Pam Nanet. Together, they're helping to unite our local Hispanic community; and to a large extent, they've already been successful. Their event at Mitchell Park on Saturday, witnessed by El Conquistador, appeared to be a hit. Performances included ritualistic Aztec dance and music by DJ Rob Sanchez; and let's not forget the amazing tattoo artwork by none other than the talented Leo.
Nicole Acosta, described as the glue that holds the group together, is a professional photographer who going to MATC for a BA in marketing. Unlike her counterparts, Nicole refuses to talk politics because it's a type of "dirty talk." Nicole, a positive and gleeful personality, said she doesn't like to take sides and doesn't like to see people fighting.
Celeste Contreras, a spiritual-minded 28 year old, brings some real world experience to the group. She has already traveled parts of the world and recently visited Mexico in what she called a "spiritual journey." Celeste described herself as a type of anarchist that's not particularly interested in voting, but despite her anarchism, appears to share some left-of-center opinions. To her, Mijas is a type of safe zone - a necessary bulwark that protects them against the sort of threats posed by Representative Don Pridemore's new immigration bill. Clearly then, Celeste doesn't always follow the same "no politics" rule as Nicole.
Pam Nanet, the one featured on the front page, brings a technological edge to Mijas. She has a BA in Graphic Design and currently works for Kohler as an interactive designer. Nanet was born in Mexico, raised in Queens, and came to Wisconsin as a sophomore in high school; she became active at a young age in Voces de la Frontera. When asked to describe herself politically, she identified more with socialism.
Besides showing a rather obvious athleticism in a ritualistic Aztec dance, Pam stood out as being very articulate in her political views. To Pam, being a woman is "very powerful." She believes that Latinas receive "the short end of the stick" and are held back culturally. She also sees Latinas as having somewhat of an identity problem - caught between this country and their country of their origin. Pam also said that the Milwaukee Mijas is the outcrop of strong women as their mothers have all exhibited strong leadership in their own families.
When asked why their group includes only women, there seemed to be a hesitation of whether men were really excluded. Nicole, however, specified that they were considering starting a Milwaukee Mijos for male artists. But first, they need to get their ducks in a row.
The Milwaukee Mi Hijas described themselves as feminists, but not the sort that hate men or "grow hair under their arms." As observed in the interview, they stay away from negativity and seek only to empower the lives of women.
Aside from their own group, this triad of Latinas has been giving back to the local community. They've been involved in the Boys & Girls Club, Voces de la Frontera, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Walker Point Center of the Arts. Even the party at Mitchell Park was a fundraiser to give a school scholarship to a Latina in need.
If anyone would like more information on the Milwaukee Mijas or any upcoming events, you may email Nicole Acosta at Milwaukeemijas@yahoo.com.