As we start to poke our heads out of multiple layers of winter and pandemic confinements like nervous and tender voles, I want to take a beat to reflect on the fierce and fabulous women that helped us make it through the long nights of 2021. This winter, Onda Latina Ohio welcomed Katlin Marisol Sweeney-Romero, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English at OSU, to be our featured performer. She was joined by DJ Aloha (aka Aleha Solano), a Colombian ex-pat artist, DJ and entrepreneur who hosts her famous “Apocalipstick” pachangas all over town. In between the two, a lineup of local poets, musicians, seasoned performers of all ages, several first-time creatives, and the always-sassy Chusma Box gathered to explore the turbulent waters of love and community in times of pandemia.
Our featured performer Katlin is at work on her dissertation, which explores how Latina content creators use social media accounts to produce self-images. Her performance titled “This is a Love Letter to My Body” was delivered as a poetic monologue describing the journey toward self-acceptance as a Latina with a mixed cultural background. In this bizarre moment in history, when body positivity movements must contend with the ever-increasing pressure to conform to a rigid set of beauty standards, Katlin’s performance was both soothing and mesmerizing.
Following the event, participant-performer and 4th-year OSU student Jaelynn Butler shared a touching reflection: “There were many transformative aspects of the event that affected me at the personal level. . . Too White for my all-Black friends and too Black for my all-White friends, Katlin’s performance helped me see that this is a common experience for mixed race children.”
Jaelynn’s reflection touched on the effort she dedicates to hair straightening and noted that her parents felt the need to give their children “White sounding” names so that their future job applications and resumes would be taken seriously. Finally, Jaelynn praised Katlin’s performance, saying:
“She talked about how her body had become her home, her body was something she needed to protect because at the end of the day it was always going to be there for her no matter what. She spoke of her body in such a unique way that changed my own view of my body. As a minority, it’s often hard for me to find a safe space, and I’ve often felt alone because of the environment I grew up in. The way she spoke of the body being her home made me think how I can also become my own safe space that I’ve so long needed.”
We’ve all worked hard to survive a long winter of plague and precarity, but Love in Times of Pandemia was contagious in all the right ways. Thank you Katlin, DJ Aloha, and Jaelynn for spreading the love!
Onda Latina Ohio wants to give special thanks to Anna Goulson and Anthony Palmiscno for helping with event planning and flow. Thanks to DJ Aloha for sharing her fabulous photos, Sebastian Muñoz Ruz for his deft handling of the Chusma Box, and Hannah Grace Morrison for serving big inspiration and leadership.