Ana Castillo

In her new memoir, “Black Dove,” legendary author Ana Castillo explores her experiences with single motherhood and cultural/social change. On June 3, Castillo will visit La Mujer Obrera's Café Mayapan for a reading and signing of the book.

Castillo refers to herself as “Xicana,” which is Chicana using the ‘x’ in the Nahuatl language as a nod to her indigenous ancestry. One of the most influential voices in Xicana/o literature, she writes about culture, social issues, sexuality and gender. She is the author of “So Far From God,” “My Father Was a Toltec: and selected poems” and “Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma.”

Before Castillo’s visit to Café Mayapan, she answered What’s Up’s questions regarding the workforce among disadvantaged laborers. Such laborers, especially marginalized women of Mexican heritage, are the kind of individuals the organization La Mujer Obrera aims to empower.

Castillo said that her connections to the El Paso region inform the way she understands how the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico impacts labor workers. Critics of NAFTA say that the trade agreement leads to countless U.S. job losses and significantly low wages for labor workers in Mexico.

“In all honesty, I have been aware of NAFTA and discussions before it was signed in 1994,” Castillo said. “Living in proximity to the border for over a dozen years has given me a more visceral connection. However, I come from a family of factory workers in Chicago and was aware of companies closing down to relocate in the Third World for decades. Both of my parents died jobless."

In her recent interview with Bitch Media, Castillo also discussed her experiences and thoughts concerning ageism. When asked about her thoughts on the way that ageism impacts working women with families, Castillo said, “After a certain age, and that would be middle age, men and women in the labor force are seen as less than ideal. It is why young girls, barely adolescent, are the ideal employee for rigorous, assembly work that takes nimble small fingers and sharp eyes to keep up with quotas. Machismo – or in a broader context, patriarchy – serves to benefit the wealthy.

“At the other extreme end of the patriarchal strata are poor young women of color. Wages have scarcely gone up for such workers for a long time. Navigating for survival is an interesting way to describe the reality of the poor workforce, along the U.S./Mexico border and throughout the world.”

Along with reading from her memoir, Castillo will speak with local author and poet Viva Flores about her experiences as a single Xicana mother, a bisexual woman and her ideas concerning social change.

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