Monthly Archives: September 2011

One Latina Life: Feminism, Rage, Punk Rock

by Alicia Velasquez (AKA Alice Bag)

“I’m not a writer,” I whined.

“You’ve been writing a blog for years,” my husband said.

“But I’m not a REAL writer. I can’t describe people and places in flowery detail.” My husband gave me a pained look. That settles that, I thought to myself as I walked over to my latest craft project ready to take it up again, but my husband was not finished.

“We’ll set it up as a separate blog. You have time to write while I’m at work and Sophia’s at school.” I was tempted to list all the things that housewives do during the day that are never noticed: the beds that make themselves, the laundry that appears neatly folded atop the family dressers, the cupboards magically full of organic vegetarian food choices, the Sisyphean work of women. I decided to hold my tongue, sensing my husband’s insistence was a genuine effort to support my artistic growth and not simply create more work for me.


The previous day, a group of my girlfriends from Los Angeles had driven down to visit me in San Diego and we’d walked over to a little neighborhood bar for a drink. Two of the girls were writing a play called The Barber of East L.A. and were doing research by gathering oral histories from women who had grown up in East L.A. during the 1960’s and 70’s. Halfway through the interview one of the playwrights, Raquefella turned to me and suggested, “You should write a book.” I laughed it off but continued to think about the idea.

I had casually mentioned the comment to my husband before going to bed and this morning he brought up the subject again with renewed enthusiasm. “I’m going to set up the blog for you,” he told me. We had recently been to Comic-con, where I discovered that a friend of mine had written her own comic book. The idea had thrilled me and my husband knew it. He had found the perfect bait. “Maybe if you start writing, an illustrator will read it and help you turn it into a graphic novel. You can call it The True Life Adventures of Violence Girl.” That did it. I had been a voracious comic book reader as a child and still enjoyed graphic novels. The succinct text in graphic novels was not intimidating yet I also knew that many graphic novels had complex themes and ideas. I thought of my story in those terms. I wanted my book to be easy to read but challenging in terms of ideas.

The following Monday morning I stared at the laptop on the kitchen table. I walked by it, grabbed a box of old photos and let the memories wash over me. I looked at an old picture of my mom and dad, took in my earliest memory and started to write.

Every morning from 10:00 to 12:00 I’d sit at the kitchen table and write. I’d send my blog post to my husband, he’d edit it for me and give me immediate feedback. The journey was therapeutic. Suddenly, scenes I had blocked out of my memory were coming back to me. On more than one occasion I called my husband at work, crying, my stomach in knots, sobbing “I can’t write this, it makes me sick.” Other times my husband would call me from work to tell me he had laughed or cried at a particular entry.

A few weeks into the process our daughter told us she was being bullied at school. I had spoken to the school administration on several occasions but the situation had not improved. Back in Arizona the prices of houses had dropped dramatically and our old house was still on the market. We decided that my daughter and I would move back into our old house so that our daughter could return to her former school while my husband applied for a transfer at work.

I continued to blog and send my entries to my husband everyday. Now that we were living apart, sharing this intimate part of myself with him made me feel close to him despite the fact that we were living in different cities. The deeper I dug into my memories the more I learned about myself. I started to see recurring themes and cause and effect because I was looking from a new perspective using my writer’s vantage point. I understood that the seeds of feminism had been planted in my childhood. I saw that my punk stage persona had been an outlet for the impotent rage I had harbored for years.

At the same time, I was picking up followers on my blog. People were reading at their desks at work or at their own kitchen tables. If I tried to take a day off from blogging, I heard about it from my readers. It dawned on me that these people were following a story and expected me to finish it. Not only that, they expected a new entry Monday through Friday. I established a routine, I wrote everyday after my daughter left for school. I would not allow myself to start any other project or leave the house until I had written the next part of the story. I pretended I was a real writer, I visualized chatting about my book on Oprah. I thought about who would play my father in the movie (Edward James Olmos).

When the story was finished, I posted a question to my readers: “Who should I send this to?” We brainstormed together; I felt like I had a think tank behind me. We decided to approach an independent publisher called Feral House. I sent them an unsolicited manuscript with an introductory letter and within the week, I received a call on my cell phone: “Alice Bag, you sent me some of your writing. You may not remember me, but I met you many years ago…” It was the head of Feral House, and he wanted my book.

Alicia Velasquez (AKA Alice Bag) is a musician, Craftivista, author, blogger, junior pastry chef and master trouble maker. Her book Violence Girl is available now at


  1. Anonymous  September 27, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    Hey Alice Bag,

    Amazing, keep writing, I sent you a message already but lost it because I did not sign into WordPress. Anyway, you keep doing what brings you some bliss. You will inspire others to do the same.
    Juanita Suarez
    of the Latina Dance Theater Project

  2. darksidegirl77  September 28, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    I loved your Violence Girl Blog and adore the book that the blog created. You are truly an inspiring person !!!!
    Thank You for sharing your stories…

  3. Alice Bag  September 29, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    Thank you both for your supportive comments, they are much appreciated.

Pensamientos from the “Field”: An Excerpt from My Research on Mexican Women Caring for North Americans

by Maria Ibarra, Ph.D.

“Que valoren, que sepan que este trabajo tiene valor…que uno da su vida.”

I am an anthropologist who studies the labor of Mexicana elder care providers. Every year I spend time in the field, in my long-standing research site of Santa Barbara, and I record women’s stories and experiences about work. I am always affected by the many types of violence that are inherent to the lives of Mexicanas on either side of the border. How many times have I put down my pen and held a woman’s hand, stroked her forearm, while she cries and tells me how much it hurts? Almost every interview reveals pain and anger, the ambushes to her humanity, the metaphorical blows that stack upon each other. “Me despidieron como si fuera un perro, ni siquiera en la casa, pero allí afuera de la puerta.” I asked, “Why, Reyna, I don’t understand, why did they do that?” She answered, “¿Porque no te ven, no les importas – despues de tantos años con la señora que me hicieran eso? No es justo, Maria.” She imploringly looks at me and wants me to help her put it right, to help her understand such a profound betrayal to her humanity. “Di todo por ella – sacrifique tantos momentos que le pude dar a mi hija, ¿y para que?” For what? Such a moral question in a structural economic, political and social context that does not operate by the rationality of what is good for the women who care for the aging, infirm, and dying in our society. “¿Que puedo escribir, Reyna? ¿Que quieres que sepa la gente?” I asked. Without pause she answered, “Que valoren, que sepan que este trabajo tiene valor…que uno da su vida.”

Maria Ibarra is an associate professor in the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at San Diego State University.  She is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled “Transnational Care: Mexican Women and Aging North Americans in the 21st Century.”

L.A. Supporters of Ethnic Studies Gather

March 29, 2011

The Los Angeles Committee to Support Ethnic Studies (LACSES)
The National Association for Chicana & Chicano Studies (NACCS)

politicaltardeadaAZGreetings Compañera/os,

As you may know, Arizona has been passing laws that affect Chicana/os and their extended communities. One law in particular (HB2281) was put into effect this January 1, 2011 that outlaws La Raza Studies. The Tucson School district has a fully developed K-12 La Raza Studies that is graduating over 80% of its students. Other schools districts in Arizona that don’t have La Raza Studies mirror the rest of nation’s drop out rate of over 50%. It is obvious that when our children are taught critical thinking skills and are presented with a broader view of history and society they are engaged to the point of graduating and work towards higher education. This law HB2281 will force the Tucson school district to stop teaching La Raza studies despite their success.

A coalition of parents, teachers, and students in Arizona have taken  their State to court to challenge this law. They need our financial support to mount a court battle that will resound loudly and clearly that we will not let them to deny our children an education that inspires them to succeed in academics. Other States are also drafting similar laws because they fear an educated populace with critical thinking skills that might come up with solutions to the economic, social, and political problems that have plagued our nation to the point of bankruptcy and make us fear and blame the most voiceless and powerless in our nation.

We the LACSES need your presence, your friends and financial support to help us combat this legal battle. We will be hosting a Political Tardeada on the last day of the NACCS conference on Saturday, April 2nd from 6:30-9pm in the Grand Ballroom of the Westin Pasadena.

We are inviting many of Southern California’s artists, academics, activists, and public figures whose work has been inspired or based in Chicana/o Studies and/or Ethnic Studies. Our aim is to gather our forces and finances to learn more about this and upcoming issues, other fundraising strategies, and to create a critical mass that will stand against the growing anti-Latino sentiment in the country. Now is the time to come together, see who are allies are and see how we can each bring our talents, connections and will to turn the tide.

A very partial list of some of our supporters include: Dr. Rodolfo Acuña, Dr. Mary Pardo, Dr. David Sandoval, Dr. Lara Media, and many more academics. Artists, activists and public figures include: Harry Gamboa Jr., Barbara Carrasco, Yreina Cervantes, Felicia Montes, Richard Montoya, Lalo Alcaraz, Gustavo Arrellano, Wendy Carrillo (Power 106), Raul Campos (KCRW), Lysa Flores, Carlos Montes, and more are joining everyday.

Admission to the event is a humble $25 for the general public and $10 for students. Please come to be generous.

Some of the Arizona legal team will make a presentation on the state of the case. Richard Montoya will conduct a lively discussion on the issue and Las Cafeteras will provide music. Food and beverages will be available. We want you to come and meet other like minded individuals who also believe YA BASTA with these attacks on our community. We hope to see you there.

If you cannot attend but would like to make a donation go to:   We are suggesting pledges of $5 to $10 a month. Make the check payable to: Save Ethnic Studies Defense Fund 307 S. Convent Ave. Tucson, AZ 85701

Also let us know if we can list you as an endorser

For more information, go online: (Precious Knowledge Trailer) (Tucson campaign)
Please download this flyer (pdf here) and circulate!