SALSA Lotería: A Glimpse Into CU Boulder’s Diversity and Inclusion Summit
In partnership with the Motus Theater and Programa Compañeras, this year’s CU Boulder Diversity and Inclusion Summit featured SALSA Lotería, an autobiographical collection of monologues exploring the lives of Latina immigrants from the Boulder community—a performance that not once, but twice, brought me to tears. As a student in this semester’s honors topics course—Racism in American Culture—I looked forward to hearing about the experiences of these immigrant women in a city that boasts inclusivity and diversity, despite being overwhelmingly white in demographic composition.
Similar to bingo, success in the game lotería depends on the cards you are dealt. If one of your cards matches that drawn by the game caller, a token is placed over the image. The first player to achieve a linear pattern of tokens wins. Lotería, much like the lives of immigrants and people of color in present-day America, is a game of chance. Each of the six women delivered chilling monologues that detailed the obstacles they face every day as both immigrants and women of color. While each experience provided a unique, intersectional perspective on Mexicana culture, two themes in particular were echoed among all six monologues.
The first shared theme was that of identity. Perhaps the monologue most representative of this topic was presented by Teresita Lozano, who described her constant struggle of sustaining her Mexicana identity despite her fair skin color that qualifies her as white-passing. Often faced with comments like, “you’re not dark enough to be Mexican” or “you don’t act Mexican”, Teresita brought attention to the problematic ways in which we assign characteristics and perpetuate stereotypes onto entire cultures. One of the most important parts of achieving diversity is acknowledging the complexities of heritage, rather than simply classifying people as ‘white’ and ‘non-white’. Although aware of the privileges that come with her skin color, Teresita refused to let her true identity as a Latina woman be masked by her white skin.
All of the monologues also reflected on themes of courage and perseverance required of women of color to survive in a white-dominated world. The women shared stories of leaving family members to come to the United States, losing family members to deportation, and sacrificing time with their family to be at work. In addition, the speakers outlined other ways in which some women’s status as undocumented constrained their everyday lives, things like the inability to get a driver’s license, racial profiling by the police, and hostility from the very country that they call home. In its own way, each story illustrated the obstacles placed on many immigrants and people of color that must be overcome to reach a ‘level playing field’ with most white citizens, who have the privilege not to encounter such obstacles or even notice others’ struggles. However, despite this inequity, there stood six successful, strong, and courageous Latina women who bear that burden each day.
Reflecting on this performance, I see how as members of the CU Boulder community and inhabitants of the United States, it is our responsibility to commit to inclusivity not just this week, but every week.