Circulo de Ladies
Circulo de Ladies was a collective of 8 young womxn at a middle school in the southwest side of Chicago I collaborated with. During the 2014-2015 academic year, we met twice a week to hold healing circles—a space for storytelling and identity-based art making. Together we shared practices of self-care and self-love that nurtured our self-development as womxn of color. I had the honor to be part of this collective as a circle keeper, facilitator, mentor, and as someone who simply shared sacred space with the young womxn.
The catcalling campaign
Circulo de Ladies came to a consensus of having a catcalling campaign. It was something that all of the young womxn had strong opinions about and were affected by on an almost daily basis, within and outside of school. As a facilitator, I had two days to develop a method for navigating these conversations and proposing art-making in a safe, yet brave and critical, manner. In this instance, critical media literacy pedagogy was an important vehicle when it came to starting conversations and reflections on the subject, along with talking circles and writing exercises.
The catcalling campaign began with the idea of creating messages that could be spread throughout the school. The young womxn wanted to learn about the button making process and decided to merge the two. They agreed to make buttons with designs highlighting issues of sexual harassment for womxn of color. They distributed these buttons around the school. The topic definitely sparked conversations in and outside of the classrooms. From there, the students decided they wanted to expand the message in the form of a banner...to be publicly displayed in the hallway of the school.
Our catcalling campaign activated space for personal reflection of deep-rooted trauma and identification of feelings. Talking about them and working through them day after day during after school created a space of healing for everyone. We built the healing space out of individual, then mutual, need. This space was by no means an end-all solution to years of wounds, but rather enabled a process of self-determination. It was the start of a journey of self-advocacy where we unearth love from within as individuals and as a collective.
As an ofrenda, the young womxn installed a new banner—a banner challenging notions of love.
Self-Care Practices Ebook
The young womxn in our circulo co-created a book to share their own practices of self-care and self-love and offer their personal stories highlighting some of their struggles and victories. Throughout our time together, we would talk about ways in which we could share the work we were doing as a collective. We knew that what we were living and breathing on a weekly basis needed to be shared with other womxn in one way or another. The book is a representation of where they have been and currently are in their ongoing processes.
This ebook is available for viewing, sharing, and download with a hope that it will be distributed widely with other young womxn, who are interested in the topic of self-love.
A full circle effect.
Young STUDENTS as researchers
My personal journey of self-love has built a foundation for this type of work centered around healing spaces with youth. In this particular healing space, we had been creating our own knowledge through storytelling, writing, and various art forms all along. To be a creator of one’s own knowledge meant one is a researcher. We are all researchers, regardless of age or accessibility to institutions that validate research with degrees.
So I made a proposal. I asked the young womxn if they were open to engaging in this journey with me and asked
Without hesitation, they said “I do” with excitement, passion, and commitment. Unearthing Self-Love: A Journey of Self-Determination for Young Womyn of Color became part of our shared journey—a thesis project we collaborated on with respect, accountability, and intention. Fearlessly.