was immediately,” she remembers, “it brought me to all of these women.” Son Jarocho is “Neither here, neither there” she states. After coming to the US when she was a very young girl, she is able to empathize with Son Jarocho in that feeling of being between places.
I T E X P O S E D M E T O A S PA C E O F O R G A N I Z I N G Ana is from Colima and has been part of the Son Jarocho collective at El Centro Cultural de Mexico in Santa Ana for many years. She impresses how formative El Centro has been in her life, particularly in creating a space for her to learn to organize and cultivate her activism. One day she decided to go on a trip that changed her life. She went to many places, one of them being Veracruz. She was struck by the way that people, not corporations or labels, own the music of Son Jarocho. The United States has created a Son Jarocho community that is as equally committed to social justice as traditional Son Jarocho culture. For Ana and many others, the collectivism of Son Jarocho is a refuge from the consumer driven culture that we live in. The women talk about how everything is privatized in the US, even sometimes our emotions. In this culture of maximizing and monetizing, it becomes radical to value the interactions we share with one another as well as ourselves. Sharing is not common in US culture, but within Son Jarocho the music, time, and space are all a celebration of the collective. Carmen C, the woman playing full size tercera at the beginning of our introductions, reminds us how women and men both play an important role in the music and culture of Son Jarocho.
Collectivism is critical; being mindful of each other musically is the only way to pull off the rhythms and harmonies that make Son Jarocho what it is. While Son Jarocho aims to bring people back to a state of collectivism and community, some people feel restricted by the existence of traditional gender roles. Some things are changing though—in some cities there are strong gay male centric populations of Son Jarocho musicians and performers taking on traditionally female roles. For women existing outside of the binary, the dance of balancing their perceived and internal femininity and masculinity is both a celebration and a challenge. As traditional as gender may be, Carmen C reminds us that through music “we can transcend who we are and have true solidarity.” The social justice aspect of Son Jarocho is both outright and inherent. In Santa Ana, many people involved in the Son Jarocho community are also actively engaged in local social justice organizations like the Santa Ana Boys and Men of Color organization working to stop the criminalization of young boys and men of color. And groups like COPWATCH Santa Ana which works to inform the public of when and where the police checkpoints are located, that yield more deportations and car impoundments of sober undocumented families than drunk drivers, as well as educating people on how to create and sustain justice at the local community level. On top of all of this amazing community work that they do, many of them teach Son Jarocho classes at El Centro Cultural on a regular basis and keep up their own work and school commitments. The woman of the Santa Ana Son Jarocho scene work tirelessly to create community; their work is a form of resistance against oppression and colonization within their own communities and within the US at large.
TO M TOM MA GA Z INE
Published on Jul 15, 2014
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