National Hispanic Heritage Month

Written by Bianca Peralta

Women have always been associated as flowers due to their apparent feminine and delicate nature. However, flowers are essential to our ecosystem and much like women, we couldn’t survive without either. Also flowers range from different shapes, sizes, and colors just like the wonderful Hispanic Women we honor during Hispanic Heritage month. I want to take the time to reclaim the feminine association of a flower by demonstrating how each unique flower represents a different Hispanic female icon. Though individually these flowers are stunning and serve a various array of different functions out in nature, when you put all the flowers together, the bouquet makes up a uniquely stunning masterpiece.

As a twenty one year old, Mexican-American women it’s hard to stay positive about a month dedicated to celebrating the amazing feats of my culture because Hispanic Heritage month tends to highlight the men like Cesar Chavez, Juan Calamera, Diego Rivera, featuring one woman which is normally Frida Kahlo. So what about all the amazing feats of other Hispanic women that is overshadowed by males?

To highlight the amazing, Hispanic women, I have compared a diverse range of icons ranging from painters to supreme court justices to the unique and beautiful flower that best embodies them. As a Sorority woman in Alpha Omicron Pi, we follow the motto of “individually unique, all together complete.” So let’s celebrate the complexity of the individual woman and while also understanding how her unique contributions contribute to the Hispanic culture like diverse flowers making up a stunning bouquet. Dolores Huerta, the flowers of Kurunj.

The flowers of a Kurinji plant take forever to fully bloom, yet when they do, provide a beautiful spectacle that is worth the wait. The fearless leader we know today as Dolores Huerta was once a social outcast because she was a single mother, an immigrant, a farmhand, and female. Little did she know, that she would take on the world despite being a female of color, older, or unmarried. She empowered a generation of women like my Abuela, the immigrant farmhand who sold tortillas in the migrant camps, to chant “Si Se Puede” alongside the men. Her leadership bloomed because she empowered the women around her to change the gender dynamic of a civil rights movement. So ladies, next time you think you are too old or too unworthy to make a change, think again. Like Dolores and the Kurinji Plant’s flowers, your time to bloom will come, it just might take a while.

Sonia Sotomayor, Purple Iris Hollywood may have the fictional Elle Woods to inspire women to pursue law, but Hispanics have Sonia Sotomayor to look up to. Think of it, the first Hispanic to be on SCOTUS isn’t a male! As an eleven year old who dreamed of being a lawyer when this historical feat happened, I couldn’t help but think of hope. The judicial system doesn’t favor women, let alone brown women like me. Even today, despite the new surge in toxic masculinity and xenophobia, I remain determined to go to law school because I know women like me can do it! The Iris has many meanings and many places use it as the official flower, but I was told growing up that the Iris means hope. Sotomayor stands out amongst her fellow justices on the supreme court like a bright purple iris amongst a field of white daisies. However, that bold purple iris is essentially paving a way for the other purple irises to mix in and grow alongside the white daisies.

I remember watching West Side Story and being completely enamored with Rita Moreno as she successfully managed to dance, sing, and act equally amazing. It was years later I would find out that most of the cast wasn’t even Puerto Rican, except for Moreno. I mean if we thought Hollywood was predominantly white now, imagine it years ago. However, her magnificent on screen presence was due to her talent, not her race. Like the birds of paradise flower, Moreno was bold and magnificent. Don’t believe me? Well I challenge you to go look up her prestigious awards Diane Guerrero, Gladiolus.

The Gladiolus flower symbolizes strength, a characteristic Diane Guerrero has proven to possess as she continues to speak out against modern day immigration reform. Her family was deported back to Columbia while she remained in the United States as a young child. Nevertheless, she pursued acting and used her fame as a platform to speak out for those who have no voice. Her strength has motivated my generation of young women to use our voice for those who can’t. She isn’t in our history books yet, allowing girls to find their voice and be a part of a movement.

There are so many iconic Hispanic women that have done some pretty remarkable things. Lastly I want to dedicate the Marigold flower to all the amazing Hispanic women, like my Abuela who marched alongside Dolores Huerta, who have now been laid to rest. In my culture, these flowers honor the dead.

There are amazing women everywhere and here at Women Empowering Women, we make sure to include all women from all walks of life in our empowerment narrative. I hope you take the flower analogy with you, and take the time to celebrate how unique we all are. But when we come together we are beautiful, unstoppable forces of nature.

Woman of the Month Features Corin Rose Burke

WOMAN OF THE MONTH FEATURES CORIN ROSE BURKE

She Rises From The Ashes, A Mother’s Point of View

I am writing this to honor my daughter, Corin who was in the Las Vegas shooting and survived. As a mother I will never know what she experienced, what she felt, or continues to feel. I see the signs of her pain, her anxiety, and her fear. I would like to share this very deep story with you. I share this now, one year later because it’s time for me, mama bear, to heal too.

It was midnight on October 1, 2017 when I awoke from sleep in my daughter Corin’s bed.  She was in Las Vegas at a country music concert that weekend. I don’t know why I woke up but I looked at my phone; it was midnight. I had missed several calls for two hours from a number I didn’t recognize. There were missed calls from my sister in-law. My heart sank as I knew something happened. I ran up stairs to tell my husband to call his sister.

She immediately told us that Corin was okay but there had been a shooting at the concert.  It wasn’t until some time had passed that we understood that it had been a mass shooting and even later that we learned the extent of the event.  I panicked. We called her. She was at the hospital with her friend who had been shot in the back. I immediately wanted to fly to Las Vegas to be with her. I wanted to hold her.  I couldn’t. There were no flights going into Las Vegas. I thought of driving down, but it would have been a 10-hour drive and she had a flight that morning.

I called my son who lives in Southern California and asked him to drive to Las Vegas to be with his sister. He had already left and was on his way. I don’t know what I would have done had he not been there with his sister.

As a mother, feeling hopeless because I couldn’t be there with my daughter, feeling guilty because I didn’t answer the phone at 10:01 pm when the shooting happened. I remember looking at the news and couldn’t believe what I saw and what I heard. All of those innocent people who were killed, wounded physically, wounded emotionally. Our daughter and her two friends were among the fortunate ones who lived.

We picked up our daughter at the airport, she was in shock, tears rolling down her face, covered in blood, and full of FEAR. Her dad and I held her in the bosom of our arms.

On the drive back home, she told us what she saw and heard,  the details of what she had witnessed. My heart ached for her.

When the shooting started, the girls didn’t know what was going on;  they thought it was fireworks. Jason Aldean, the country singer was performing at the time and he stopped playing and ran off the stage. It was at that point that the girls knew something was going on. People started running, screaming, trying to hide.

On the ground, Corin and her friend looked into each other’s eyes. Scared, they didn’t know if they were going to get out of there alive.

At some point, Corin’s friend fell to the ground, she had been shot in the back. Corin and a man next to them, picked up her friend and ran to get help.  Open field, no shelter to hide, thousands of people, screaming and running for their lives, bullets whizzing by. People being shot, people dying.

The man immediately took her friend to where an ambulance was. She got immediate attention as she was turning blue. My daughter was hiding under the ambulance, still listening to gun shots being fired. She said the ten minutes seemed like eternity.

The man who took my daughter’s friend to the ambulance was  truly a guardian angel. If it wasn’t for  him, we may have lost Corin’s friend.

This was a senseless act of killing innocent people. We will never know what made him do such a malevolent act. This man will not feel the pain he caused thousands of people and their families. This man will not feel the suffering people continue to feel. The PTSD they have. This man will not know the people he killed and their families who no longer have their family member. All of these people whose lives will never be the same.

It’s my wish for each person who was at the concert and their families to heal. Each day they take a little bit of their power back. Each day a little bit lighter. Each day more hope.

A few weeks ago, I got triggered. It’s been intense. The thought of my daughter returning to Las Vegas, attending the memorial caused me anxiety and great sadness that my daughter had to go through mass shooting and return to the place where it all happened.

Six days after the shooting,  October 8th, the fires happened. We were evacuated for a week. When I look back at that time and the rest of the year, I was numb. I felt that I needed to be strong for my daughter. I didn’t want to feel all that I felt.  I do today. I am in the process of healing.

Corin tells me over and over, “I will never be the same”. Will she? No.  What I do know is that she will heal, she will be more empowered, she will RISE everyday.

To rise from the ashes in mythology, a phoenix is an immortal bird that, when it dies, bursts into flames and is reborn from its own ashes. This is what I have witnessed watching my daughter rise in the last year. Corin is the phoenix.

Since then my daughter quit her job as an accountant to seek a new career, of course still in the wine industry. She takes baby steps to move forward. Some days it’s easier than others. She can now listen to country music. She put on her cowgirl boots (she was wearing them in Las Vegas) and went to her first country outdoor concert. She was anxious but went. 

Corin is in Las Vegas with her friend, back to the place where her life changed. I am in awe of my daughter. This is a COURAGEOUS act. She is facing her fears, facing the place where her life changed. She is facing the images that may not ever go away. She is going to heal with thousands of people who were there and their families who lost a loved one. She is sad. She is anxious. She is in fear. She is strong. She is courageous. This is one EMPOWERED WOMAN! I want to honor her today!

Tonight, October 1stat  10:01 pm, I will light candles and pray for thousands of people. I will honor the 58 people who died and their families who are speaking today at the memorial. Today I am so grateful that my daughter and her friends are alive. Today I am grateful that I am allowing myself to feel all that I didn’t a year ago. Today we both can begin the healing process.

It’s October 4, 2018 and my daughter came back lighter. She felt the love and support from the community in Las Vegas. She heard stories from people who were there. This gave her comfort knowing that she is not alone.  She did some healing with thousands of people. She created new memories. SHE RISES FROM THE ASHES!

Written by Natasha Burke