Espacios: Pixoa by Isabel Piña
I arrived to Necia through one of my classmates who put the link to the Necia submission on a Womyn of Color Collective Facebook group we were a part of. I immediately became interested in the Necia Media Collective because of their mission to use multimedia with a social justice and community oriented lens to bring new worlds into being through helping each other out.
I’m at a point where I am saving money to go back to graduate school. I graduated in June 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a minor in Latina and Latino Studies. Shortly after graduating, I obtained my certification in domestic violence training which allows me to volunteer at a domestic violence shelter on my free time as a crisis hotline counselor. I’m taking time off school to focus on working on my project Pixoa and to think about what I want to specialize in psychology. So far, I’ve been thinking about going into counseling because there aren’t many Spanish-speaking, bicultural counselors available to help Spanish-speaking immigrants going through domestic violence, sexual assault, etc.
I am passionate about these issues because they are problems that happen in the Latinx community which have affected some of my friends and their families. It could be anyone you know. The fear of deportation is what holds individuals from reporting incidences of domestic violence, which leaves immigrant individuals at a vulnerable place for these incidences to persist. Because of that fear and for other reasons, these are stigmatized issues to talk about within the community. But in order for there to be change, there needs to be awareness about laws such as the Violence Against Women Act and the U-VISA provision (both protect immigrant women who have been victims of domestic violence) and there needs to be outreach work as well.
Volunteering at the shelter wasn’t enough for the community’s needs because they do not have outreach programs for Spanish-speaking individuals, even through the suburban area the shelter covers has Latina/o/x demographics. I couldn’t just volunteer, sit back, and not attempt to do something with the education I received in my certification class. After all, I got my certification in order to help immigrant women. So I started Pixoa as a social media space on Facebook in November 2015 to create awareness about domestic violence for Spanish-speaking individuals who might not know about their legal rights and court processes. I translate information I received from my certification class from English to Spanish and I provide information about laws that protect immigrant women, pro bono attorney organizations that help immigrant women with legal processes (with the VAWA and U-VISA for example), and outreach programs for Spanish-speaking individuals in the Chicagoland area.
Pixoa is going well for the most part. I want the page to spread to more people who may know of others going through domestic violence and sexual assault so they can familiarize themselves with the legal processes that may help them overcome the violence they face in their lives. I will get my certification in the spring for sexual assault training so that way Pixoa can grow to include more information about this issue as well. I will also be creating YouTube videos because I believe that visual social media is another way of connecting with people to transmit information and awareness. Overall, I think that as necias and amigas/os/xs, we should watch for signs of any kind of violence our friends are going through because these issues of domestic violence and sexual assault are still very stigmatized and very difficult to open up about.
Meanwhile, I draw/illustrate to take my mind off the stress on my free time. I create my own healing space(s) through the creation of art, where I focus on my own craft, listen to my favorite music, and mentally zone out the external world. Sometimes, I make my own physical and spiritual espacio by reflecting solely on my feelings and what I can do to better myself. This can take many forms, from taking a bubble bath to exercising.
Whatever it is, I make sure I make some kind of espacio(s) for myself everyday for my own well-being. The domestic violence training class made sure we understood this concept of taking care of ourselves everyday because trauma-based work can take a toll on individuals. I never realized this concept until I started volunteering and researching articles for my project on domestic violence. There’s stories that break my heart, but my community motivates me to accomplish my goals to change the reality that some documented and undocumented individuals face in regards to domestic violence. I have learned to separate the work I do from my personal life because I don’t want the work I do or hear to interfere with my relationships. What has helped me is learning to take care of myself through espacios everyday. These espacios don’t necessarily have to be bubble baths or exercising, but they can take the form of listening to my favorite music, watching my favorite shows or movies, starting an inexpensive hobby, etc.
Regardless of what the space(s) may be, it’s necessary that we create our spaces both together and personally in order for us to heal, help each other, resist, and to reclaim. Spaces help us create consciousness in a world that is oppressive. They help us resist oppressive forces. Spaces help us create consciousness about ourselves and our journey. Ultimately, espacios are where we can express, liberate, and take care of ourselves in the process, and maybe inspire others to do the same as well. Self-care and self-love is powerful not only for ourselves, but for our community/communities as well.
More on Isabel:
Isabel Piña is a Xicana artist and advocate. She graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Latina and Latino Studies. During college, she volunteered as a health educator for the Peer Health Exchange where she taught at Chicago public high schools about community advocacy (and other topics). It was then that she learned about the importance of awareness on a variety of social issues for communities (especially youth) of color. She also worked as a research assistant for cognitive and social psychology research projects that made her realize the lack of Latinx representation in the field of academic, psychology research. Her passions include art, music, dance, education, film, Xicana/Latinx theatre and literature, and social justice.
She is learning to create art with a social justice/awareness focus and is interested in using social media to bring awareness about social issues that are stigmatized in communities of color. She started created Pixoa, a bilingual social media project that creates awareness about domestic violence for the underserved Spanish-speaking immigrant population. She is currently volunteering for a domestic violence shelter and she hopes to one day teach at high schools about interpersonal violence, resources, and mental health awareness, and aspires to speak up about issues that deal with immigration, mental health, gender, sexuality, and race to youth and the greater public.
From Mundelein, Illinois and currently based in Chicago, IL