Friday, May 25, 2012

CYLRAB Visits The White House

as you know, i was in DC earlier this week with the amazing and inspiring group of #topblogueras for the first ever latina blogger conference. i hear next year will be in my home state of texas, but i digress.


as far as i know, CYLRAB was the only blog i noticed that focuses solely on an active lifestyle. if i am mistaken, blogueras please correct me. and i noticed a lot of smiles and eyes lighting up when i told the blogueras i met which blog i write for. that was cool to observe! the woman below is a DC resident and told me she loves & uses the DC bikeshare!



although what i am going to say may seem out of the scope of this blog, i promise it isn't. i'll get to the biking in my lil diatribe, i promise.

so back to the white house. there was a panel of obama administration latinas who were championing for their chief. over here in the bubblelandia of san pancho, we are not necessarily obama cheerleaders, so i was definitely interested to hear his adminstration's latina representatives talk about immigration.

Poetry from the great tortilla conspiracy #1977

immigration is a big topic here in califas, so my ears were definitely ready to listen.

1million deportations must stop now #obama #lofi #ybca

HOWEVER, we are not obama haters either. we just expect more of him and hope that he truly has the best interests of US latinos (documented or not) at heart. but with over 1 million deportations under his administration's belt, he has some 'splainin' to do.

On the way to the briefing #LATISMattheWH

the briefing started with Cecilia Muñoz, the Director of Domestic Policy, who had some unanswered questions after a particularly fierce bloguera, Maegan La Mala asked some questions relating to secured communities and its affect on survivors of domestic violence. Muñoz notably left right after answering that question.

the panel of latinas consisted of Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Associate Director, Office of Public Engagement; Alejandra Ceja, Chief of Staff, Office of the Under Secretary; Department of Education, Lisa Pino, Deputy Administrator for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program of the Department of Agriculture; and Marissa Duswalt, Associate Director for Policy and Events, Let’s Move! Initiative.

Panel of White House Latinas at #blogueras event
foto by veronica over on flickr

as far as i know, CYLRAB was chosen to go because of the health topics on the panel, particularly the Let's Move! Initiative. i personally think that health care has become a social justice issue. i'm not insured, and i know i'm not alone as it is ever increasing. i use biking to keep myself healthy as i can for preventative measures. i know that latinos (documented or not since your body doesn't check for papers) in particular are at high risk for diabetes and high blood pressure. and i have borderline high blood pressure, despite all the biking i do, so i've had to start to eat better as well. i do love that salt...but i've cut back on it considerably.

also, i didn't know you could use what was once called food stamps, EBT, etc., to buy seeds so you can grow your own garden. that's really cool. a lot of work, but really cool. especially in "food deserts" like the place i used to live in brooklyn 10 years ago. horrible food choices in my neighborhood was my first introduction to access to food as a social justice issue.

i know that it helps to have role (or ROLL) models for healthy active lifestyles, and you just don't see a lot of brown faces out there doing that sort of thing. i am fortunate to have my mom as a role model for healthy living. she has run nearly every day for the past 25 years. believe me, that sort of dedication and discipline doesn't go unnoticed, even if your kid is brooding indoors, listening to music and reading.

i haven't found many latino blogs that are like the great ones in the african-american community like, black girls run!, and outdoor afro. i do hope that meligrosa's and my presence show other latinos that we can still be ourselves and active too. and not only just active, but really enjoy and LOVE the active lifestyle. i also hope that adrienne's posts about biking with her family show what an enjoyable and wholesome activity it is for all 5 of them.

foto by prawnpie over on flickr

access to outdoors is something that is hard to come by is something i grew up thinking. but actually it really isn't if you just take a walk around your neighborhood. i saw a video recently called 23 and 1/2 hours, that was trying to reframe how people think of exercise. the narrator posits, "can you limit your sitting and sleeping to just 23 and 1/2 hours a day?" pretty powerful question, don't you think?

i'd like to thank everyone that made it possible for me and all the #topblogueras to go to the white house. it was an amazing experience, and i am forever grateful. one of the most powerful experiences of my life thus far.


  1. Great post! Way to represent! :) Agreed that health is totally a social justice issue, and making biking (and walking! and urban green spaces!) more accessible to all (including children and the elderly, people of color, people living in low-income neighborhoods) is a great way to both improve our environment and our health!

    1. thanks manoverBORED! i know you are well aware of this as well, so great way to represent yourself! you go show that really long bike ride there are plenty of POC that can represent!

  2. A couple of my random thoughts / observations:

    * One of my Latino friends says he'd like to bike to work (he lives about 2 miles from his work place), but his wife is super concerned about safety and Ricardo refuses to wear a bike helmet.

    * California's mandatory helmet law for children has a disproportionate impact on the Latino community. Most of us middle class Americans wear a bike helmet without a second thought. Even with giveaway programs, though, you won't find many helmets in lower income neighborhoods. Police in some jurisdictions *do* enforce this law, so it's easier for these kids to just get a ride to school rather than deal with the hassle of a potential stop by Officer Friendly and possible followup from Imigre.

    1. i just asked this guy from SJBP about helmets yesterday. he says there are state programs for kids who need access to helmets. is something i want to bring over to SF bike party, but in general, i didn't know that program existed, and is amazing to know!

      this is from his FB post:There's at least 2 SJ programs giving away helmets. I beleive it was SJ Streetsmarts that was at our ride. And for kids there's also a state funded program -

    2. These giveaway programs are all over the place, they're funded and the schools participate. I'm sure there are all kinds of reasons, but the kids simply don't hold on to these free helmets beyond about a week.

      It's gonna take more than free helmets to get Latino kids to ride their bikes.

    3. why do you think that is so? i grew up seeing lots of latino kids riding around my grandparents' neighborhood in san antonio. granted, no helmets, but i don't know what the law was back then.

    4. I grew up in the almost completely Caucasian Outer Sunset until 1984 and then i moved to the almost completely Latino Mission District. There was no difference in kids bicycling in either place. There were kids on bicycles until helmet laws hit. I think there are other reasons for the decline that contribute to the problem, but that was the start.

      I will say, though, i am seeing Latino and black kids on bicycles in the Mission and beyond, again. Things are changing.

    5. great post melyssa, as i have expressed via our glitteratti PM lanes, rad.

      in response to: It's gonna take more than free helmets to get Latino kids to ride their bikes.
      yes, in between multiple arguments that surround this issue, apply not only to latino kids, but in many cultures and cities alike -- generally speaking -- I'd like to add this: the assumption that by riding a bike, you are poor and can't "afford" to be/buy/maintain a car.
      that mentality is what i have been personally exposed to as a kid. next, being a woman on a bike 'why would you want to expose yourself to all those catcalls' and third, is the taboo of 'omg, as if riding your bike you are SAVING the world, you stupid hippie'
      if that makes sense, just one of the many things that do need to switch and as CTX said, need more exposure not only on blogs, but as a change in population myths so to speak.
      if something needs to deeply infiltrate latino culture, put a soap star on a bicycle in a telenovela, without the 40yr old virgin dork-emphasis.
      now THAT would be a hot, heavily followed trend.

  3. I think we need to stop calling things "barriers". Barriers are something that can not be moved. We need to start looking at things like getting helmets to lower income families as challenges and opportunities to get to know the people of these communities better. If there are programs out there, then let's get them where they need to be! A weekend neighborhood booth where you could get your bike tuned and a kid's helmet given to you would go a long way to side stepping "barriers". How do we get that done?

    1. i think working w/ sf yellow bike project might be a good start. i've also wanted to do this for bike party during a saturday ride, so maybe the two can join forces again.

      i like your thinking ade. opportunities. reframing for the win!

  4. This blog (with your encouragement and guidance) def changed my life and got me sitting and sleeping less than 24 hours a day so I'm very happy you are being recognized as the #topbloguera that you are!

    1. aww shucks, thanks alex! :) yay, it works! <3