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.