Wednesday, August 27, 2008
DENVER, Aug. 26 -- Here in Confab City, you can't swing a messenger bag without hitting a blogger; the place is lousy with them. Hundreds are credentialed; here's one worth clicking on.
Your blog: VivirLatino.com, born Oct. 2005. ("It's Vivir Latino, not Vivir Hispanic. I'm a Puerto Rican, and I separate myself from the colonial legacy. I'm more connected to the wider Latin American struggle. It's like this: I'm not Spanish but I speak Spanish. Get it?")
Your real job: Full-time blogger and working on a book about "Latina radical mami'hood."
Your blogger name, and why: La Mamita Mala. ("Translation: 'The Bad Mommy.' Because my political awakening came out of the fact that I was a young Latina single mom and learned activism from members of the Young Lords -- you know, the radical Puerto Rican Black Panthers.")
Your real name: Maegan Ortiz. ("That's MAH-EH-GAN, not MEH-GAN.")
Other deets:31, single, two kids, live in Corona, Queens.
Is your blog like Perez Hilton with some Sabado Gigante and the Univision 6 p.m. news mixed in? [Laughs.] Well, yes and no. What I'm trying to do is represent -- and blogging is all about representing -- and represent all the way. When I'm talking Latino news, I'm talking about Latino news from the perspective of U.S.-born children of immigrants. My parents came here from Puerto Rico in the early '60s, and they bought into the whole American dream thing. Why else would I be named Maegan Elizabeth?
So the blog covers politics and pop culture?
And so many other things! Look, we talk about Hillary and we talk about J.Lo -- and J.Lo's Puerto Rican [backside] . [Laughs.] Look, you can't ignore how pop culture and politics mix as a Latina in the United States.
Tell us about the "Latina radical mami'hood."
It's about taking back the stereotype of what a Latina should be. About the stereotype of this hypersexual, hotblooded, super-fertile Latina, and then juxtaposing that against this other stereotype of this Virgin Mary, mother hen, homebody figure of a Latina. The mami'hood is all those things, being able to be a sexual woman and nurturing mother and a political activist.
Well, how are you balancing all those things?
Mira, I'm a work-at-home mother! I wake up before my kids do -- at, like, between 5:30 and 6 in the morning so I can get online and start blogging before they wake up. I always get interrupted, of course. This is what happens to all working mothers, of all colors.
So you said you were mentored by the Young Lords? What was that like?
They were inspired by the Black Panthers, except they didn't wear black berets. They were purple ones! [Laughs.] I was 16, and it all happened by accident. I went to a youth conference in Columbia University to hook up with this guy . . .
Well, in typical Puerto Rican fashion, the guy was late. So I went into this workshop to kill some time. Richie Perez -- he was a Young Lord -- was speaking at the workshop, and it just opened my eyes. He was speaking about Puerto Rican identity, owning our identity, and I'm telling you it was a religious experience, no joke.
What happened to the guy? The guy you were hooking up with?
He was, like, the love of my life. But that's another story.
One of the recent posts in your blog read: "Election Time [Whatever]: Daddy Yankee Endorses John McCain" . . .
I know, I know! [Smashes her head down the table, her pony-tailed dark hair flailing around.] Puerto Rican politics is complicated. Let me tell you. Puerto Rican politics is so complicated! [Pauses.] But I'll leave it at that.
-- Jose Antonio Vargas