September 18, 2009

Stitch in MKE!!!

Interviewee: Milwaukee activist and artist, as well as Young Communist League leader, Jeanette Martín talks about a local open mic series that she and two other local activists put together.

Interviewer: Ursula Mlynarek is the National Membership Coordinator of the Young Communist League, U.S.A. and native Milwaukee-ian.

UM: What is Stitch?

JM: STITCH is the name that we, Alida Cardos Whaley, Tony Garcia & myself came up with. We we're thinking about what this open mic series entailed of, and what it meant to us. I yelled out STITCH! Since this open mic series is our own way of trying to stitch both sides of Milwaukee, and build community.

UM: What is the format of Stitch?

JM: This weekly open mic series travels from one venue to the other- bringing in youth from one side of town to the other. Youth share thoughts, ideas, poems, songs and other art forms. Each night has different featured artists. Features were chosen through word of mouth, connections and people that heard about this open mic series.

UM: Are a lot of the features political?

JM: I believe that many of the features have strong messages to send across to the audience, but I would not label all of them political.

UM: Why is Stitch unique?

Stitch is unique since it is being organized from the actual folks that are part of these communities, for a good cause. I've gotten tons of emails from other coffee shops and venues that were very excited about what we were doing-and wanted to help us in any way that they could. That was one thing that really showed me that we were doing something positive for our comunidades.

UM: You keep referring to Milwaukee's "two sides" of the city. Please describe what you mean by these different sides, and what the importance of connecting them.

JM: The north side of Milwaukee is disenfranchised and financially deprived, and most of its residents are African American. The eastside of Milwaukee, UW-Milwaukee campus area, known to be the "nice" side of town, and there is a diverse group of folks living there, but the majority being white. The east side of Milwaukee also hosts financially wealthy Milwaukee residents. The Southside of Milwaukee, that was a majority Polish neighborhood since the early 1900s has now transitioned into being a predominantly Mexican, Puerto Rican as well as Hmong community. In the deep Southside of Milwaukee is the home to mostly white working class. By having the open mics alternate weekly, people are exposed to a place they may have never been to before, or would even think about going to otherwise.

UM: Tell me about Son MUDANZA, one of the key performers tonight.

JM: Son Mudanza established itself 2 years ago through influence of Son del Centro, a Chican@ Son Jarocho group in Santa Ana, California. Son Mudanza uses dance, poetry and song to built community as well as use as a form of cultural resistance here in the United States. A lot of the poems are the struggle on both sides of the border, as well as personal realities about being a Chican@ here in the United States.

Son Mudanza believes in solidarity and supports other social movements that believe in the power of difference. We're all friends, organizers and activists in our communities.

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