September 19, 2021

Smug Morenita: How art, Instagram helped Latina activist Gabriela Aleman figure out why it’s cool to be Central American

SAN FRANCISCO — Smug. It’s how Gabriela Aleman describes herself and a time period she’s proud to characterize.

“When it comes to women of color, we are not allowed to be smug. To me it means unapologetic, confident and knowing that I’m good at what I do,” stated Aleman, who did not at all times brim with confidence whereas rising up amongst primarily Mexican immigrants in San Francisco’s Mission District.

“It wasn’t cool to be Central American,” stated Aleman, whose father is from Nicaragua and mom from El Salvador. “Being half and half is in itself an identity crisis because you never feel fully one or the other.”

When political unrest hit Nicaragua in 2018, Aleman made an illustration supporting protesters in opposition to social safety reforms proposed by President Daniel Ortega.

“There was a huge response. People wanted more representation and visibility of Central Americans, so I kept going,” Aleman stated.

So she started drawing and posting her illustrations on Instagram.

Many are snapshots of her neighborhood — a person sporting a cowboy hat whereas he stares at his telephone, a Latina lady strolling and a mother holding a child.

Her illustrations pop with daring colour, however many additionally carry messages about queer rights, help for immigrant staff and equality for girls.

“I use a lot of symbols that people can identify with. I love to play with iconography and nostalgia. One of the many themes of my work is Central American joy,” stated Aleman.

Her work caught the eyes of Disney+, which requested her to create an illustration for Satisfaction month. She did one other drawing for an Instagram marketing campaign. However regardless of her successes, Aleman doesn’t establish as an illustrator.

“Before I’m anything else, I’m an organizer around immigration, housing and food insecurity,” she stated.

At first of the pandemic, she spearheaded a marketing campaign to acquire and distribute meals to individuals who misplaced their work. Mission Meals now distributes 1000’s of meals luggage on a weekly foundation.

It’s one of many many hats she wears. She can also be a housing caseworker for an area nonprofit group. Her art work is represented in all she does.

“I hope my work can help young people explore the multidimensionality of what it means to be a person, what it means to identify with a certain group and what it means to be part of a community.”

From actors to activists, folks share tales of celebrating their heritage, expressing their id as Latino, Latinx, or Hispanic, and representing and embracing their numerous cultures. Have a good time Hispanic Heritage Month with “Our America: Todos Unidos” on ABC Owned Tv Stations streaming apps and Hulu.

The Walt Disney Firm is the father or mother firm of Disney+ and this ABC station.