Culture

Kayden Phoenix Is Changing The Face Of Graphic Novels With Her Female Superhero Named Jalisco

Batman. Superman. Spiderman. The great superheroes always seem to be men. While we do have Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Super Girl, Storm, and others, for the most part, they’re always white. Thanks to Latino creators we know have superheroes that look like us, that tell our story and reflect our heritage. One such heroine is fighting back in a very cool and stylish way.

Meet Jalisco, a powerful Latina superhero that fights crime through the tradition of folklorico dance.

Credit: kaydenphoenix / Instagram

We love that right off the bat we know Jalisco is of Mexican descent and that she’s a dancer that has a passion for her culture. Jalisco is also facing the kind of violence that your typical male superhero doesn’t encounter. She’s fighting the violence that plagues women in Mexico at epidemic rates.

Here is the basis of her story: “Jalisco’s a humble girl that lives on the outskirts of Guadalajara. Her mom takes her to the park to cheer her up with folklorico dance, and out of nowhere— Jalisco’s mom disappears. Jalisco goes to the cops, who brush her away. She goes home in hopes that her mom is there, but she’s not. Jalisco ends up going to the bar to ask for help- anyone’s help. Again, everyone snubs her. So Jalisco sets off on her own to find her mom. Luckily for her, she gets saved by a band of Adelitas. They all know the fate of her mom but can’t tell her about the rampant femicide. Instead, Adella, the matriarch of the Adelitas, says she’ll train her so she can learn to protect herself. Jalisco says she just wants to find her mom. Adella tells her about Malinche, the traitor to our gender and the leader of the femicides.”

This is Kayden Phoenix, and she’s a director, writer, and creator of the graphic novel that centers around Jalisco. 

Credit: kaydenphoenix / Instagram

In an interview with mitú, Phoenix said the initial idea behind Phoenix wasn’t merely to create a graphic novel. She didn’t feel like her culture was represented in the arts and did something about it.

“It just kind of happened naturally,” the Boyle Heights native said about shifting gears from her business background from Loyola Marymount University, to directing, writing, and eventually creating a graphic novel. 

“I just started writing and realized no one had seen my work, so I thought ‘let me direct,'” Phoenix said. She adds that she basically had to teach herself how to create an entire project from scratch. Phoenix eventually founded the Chicana Director’s Initiative, a nonprofit that aims to be a network of Latina creatives and also to provide diverse content. 

“That’s when I began creating Latina superheroes because, why not, we don’t have any.”

Credit: santasuperhero / Instagram

Phoenix uses her “why not” mentality as the prerequisite to starting any creative project. If she feels there’s a need for something, she doesn’t wait for someone else to maybe do it, she does it herself. 

Phoenix has created a magical world all her own. It’s not just Jalisco that she thought up, but also five other Latina superheroes that will one day unite and fight crime together. One of those superheroes is Santa, a social justice warrior,  who exists in the same universe as Jalisco. 

The origins of Jalisco derives from Phoenix’s life and history. Her mom was her inspiration, as was the birthplace of her grandmother.

Credit: kaydenphoenix / Instagram

“I grew up watching my mom dance folkorico,” Phoenix said. “They had a really cool troop, and they would dance at the county fair. They were doing everything. I learned all of that because I kind of had to, but now I really appreciate it.” She adds, “I thought to myself, ‘well, who is my superhero?’ It’s my mom.” 

What advice does Phoenix have for people who want to start their own creative endeavor?

Credit: kaydenphoenix / Instagram

“Just go do it,” Phoenix said nonchalantly. “My mom never told me no. She would say ‘do you want to play the piano? go do it. Do you want to do this, then do it.’ She never said no to me. So if you have a passion for something go do it.” 

Click here for more information on Jalisco and the team behind it. 

READ: Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie Becomes Marvel’s First Bisexual Superhero And It’s About Damn Time

The Age-Old Twitter Fight About Which Country Makes The Best Tamales Broke the Internet

Culture

The Age-Old Twitter Fight About Which Country Makes The Best Tamales Broke the Internet

@urfavsalvi / Twitter

It started with a simple tweet: “Aver which one do prefer?” Bryant Sosa Lara (@urfavsalvi) asked Twitter their favorite tamal, alongside a photo of different maíz-featured recipes emblazoned with their corresponding emoji flags. Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan Twitter rose up to toss their votes into the ring, and to defend their nation’s tamal recipe. “And I’m not trying to start an argument lol you’ll be surprised by my answer,” Sosa Lara follow-up tweeted to no avail. Thousands of likes, retweets and comments later, #Guatemala started trending and Sosa Lara had to post the most bien portado video to explain Latin America’s biggest misunderstanding yesterday.

Twitter users were quick to point out that one of these is not a tamal.

CREDIT: @URFAVSALVI / TWITTER

The Salvadoran “tamal” is in the center and before you start questioning (like everyone else) why El Salvador is represented by a burrito, don’t. “The salvi tamal is wrapped cause it JUST CAME OUT LA OLLA IT WAS HOT AF pasmados inútiles,” Sosa Lara defended. Guatemaltecos rose from their graves to point out that their representative dish is not a tamal. “Guatemalan tamales are wrapped in banana leaf wtf,” tweeted one Guatemalteca. “Those are chuchitos,” another Guatemalteca pointed. Pretty soon, everyone and their mother were trying to point out that Sosa Lara was wrong.

Thats not a Guatemalan Tamale. The ones from Guate are made using a banana leaf and is like twice the size of Mexican tamales,” tweeted one Señor Leo (@SenorLeo_). “Guatemalan tamales are wrapped in a banana leaf that are then individually wrapped in aluminum foil so that they’re as moist as possible,” tweeted Ivan Ortega (@IvanOrtega94). Others were perplexed AF, tweeting cropped photos of the Guatemalan dish and asking, “que en the f*** es esto?” Someone else hilariously joked, “Damm Guatemalan joints are FIREEEEE”

Guatemalan Twitter educated the lost and confused: “It’s a Chuchito, it isn’t really a Guatemalan Tamale.”

CREDIT: @WALTERG_REAL / TWITTER

“ES LA MISMA MIERDA!!!!! people really trippin cuz this man displayed a chuchito 💀” an incredulous tweeter shared along with a screenshot of a Google image search of chuchitos. Guatemalan chuchitos are usually much firmer and smaller than Mexican tamales but are prized for the salsa and curtido that comes with it. While Guate chuchitos are made with maís like Mexican tamales, in Guatemala, a tamal is always wrapped in a banana leaf and made of potatoes or plantains. 

“Lmao leave it to a salvadorian to start a full on war 🇬🇹,” someone else tweeted.

Even though Sosa Lara never called them tamales, the Internet got confused and started dissing Guatemala, enraging Guatemalans.

CREDIT: @YOOADRIENNEEE / TWITTER

“Guate with the sad a** tamal. that jaunt ta mal,” tweeted one Francisco. Of course, no proud Guatemalteca would allow their country’s tan rico tamales and chuchitos to be so misunderstood. “That ain’t no Guatemalan tamal that’s a chuchito,” one Adrienne responded. A dialogue commenced. “Ma’am that’s the word used to described a small dog in Salvadorian lingo. Example: “El perro de blues clues es un chuchito”. Thank you for coming to my Ted talk,” Francisco replied. “Well in guate it’s what that pic tries to pass as a traditional tamale,” Adrienne responded. Okay, alright, we see you.

But Lara Sosa *never* once called the chuchito a tamal and had to post a video to clarify and end the war.

CREDIT: @URFAVSALVI / TWITTER

“Why they diss our tamales like that?? It don’t even look like this?? 🇬🇹” tweeted @muertoculo. Sosa Lara took time out of his life to individually respond to the offended Guatemaltecos to tell them, “Scroll down and look at my video pasmado.” In the video, Sosa Lara took a moment to politely educate the people who called him “uncultured swine.” To all the folks who came out to angrily tell Sosa Lara that the chuchito isn’t a tamal… he knows. After people watched the video, there was only one conclusion to be made: that man es bien portado.  He politely recited all the shade he got and spoke “con todo respeto.” 

Y’all. The Chuchito won anyway.

CREDIT: @MUNOZISFANCY / TWITTER

Though Sara Martinez has an idea that could give us peace on earth. Why do we have to compare what the word “tamal” means in different countries? Her bid for world peace is to just compare dishes, regardless of their name, based on their ingredients. “K, first off: chuchitos are not even in the same level and they still won. Second, We need to start comparing husk with husk tamales and banana leaves with banana leaf tamales. Masa with masa and masa de papa with masa de papa. Don’t trip,” Guatemalteca Sara Martinez tweeted, enforcing universally respected tamal rules.

READ: People On Twitter Can’t Get Enough Of A Woman Selling The Official Tamales Of Billie Eilish

A Quinceañera Is One Of The Most Special Celebrations So This Mexican Prison Organized One So Moms Didn’t Miss Out

Things That Matter

A Quinceañera Is One Of The Most Special Celebrations So This Mexican Prison Organized One So Moms Didn’t Miss Out

InfoBae

One of the most emotionally taxing things for mothers and fathers that are incarcerated is missing their sons’ and daughters’ special moments. Graduations, first steps, heartbreaks, proms, soccer games and quinces: all of these are events that inmates generally experience behind bars through photos or tear-stained letters. All sense of normalcy vanishes when someone steps into a prison, and isolation can kick in and affect mental health. Depression and anxiety are common ailments in correctional facilities. 

So a recent initiative in a Mexican prison changed the lives of mothers whose daughters were about to have their quinces. This initiative helped strengthen family ties (which are precariously held when a loved one is serving a sentence) and surely lifted the spirits of mothers whose mistakes have also taken a toll on their loved ones. All in all, a great way to bridge reality inside and outside the prison. 

The prison of Santa Martha became a dance hall for an unforgettable quince.

Credit: InfoBae

Mexico City authorities and the NGO Alas de Amor (Wings of Love) organized a XV dance for daughters’ of female inmates at the Santa Martha Acatitla prison. There was a thanksgiving Catholic mass followed by a sit-down meal for families. We hope this is not the last time this event is organized and that correctional facilities elsewhere follow this example. 

Plenty of people pitched in so the young women could have a day to remember.

Flower shops from the world-famous Mercado de Jamaica donated the floral arrangements. Dancers from the studio Ballet Nuevo México acted as chambelanes for the traditional waltz. Before travelling to the prison, the festejadas gor their photo taken in front of the Antiguo Palacio del Ayuntamiento.

As EN24 reports: “This is the third year that this celebration takes place, and on this occasion merchants from La Lagunilla and the Tepito neighborhood, donated the dresses, shoes and accessories for the celebration.”

There is solidarity among el pueblo mexicano! After the party, they were taken around the city on one of Mexico City’s tourist buses. The progressive Mexico City government will likely promote this kind of events in the remaining five years of the current administration, led my Claudia Sheinbaum. 

And just look at that cake! Mordida, mordida, mordida!

With plenty of social stigma associated with inmates and their families, this was a great opportunity to make these women feel appreciated and for them to be able to regain their dignity, which surely has been manhandled during their journey through the judicial bureaucracy. After all, the prison system is supposed to work as an institution through which those who have made the wrong choices in life can get a second chance, but if prisons are hell on Earth then betterment can be tricky to say the least. 

It was a dreamy event in which mothers and daughters tightened their bond.

Teenage years are troubling and challenging for any young woman, and even more so if their mother is behind bars. One of the purposes of this initiative was to make sure that the emotional struggles of adolescence are lessened at least a little bit. Each young woman was allowed to invite ten external guests and five female inmates. It was a logistical challenge but for the third year in a row the outside world moved into the prison to provide a sense of normalcy to the inmates.  

And before you get all judgmental and say “well, criminals deserve what they got” you gotta know a little bit about the Mexican judicial system.

Credit: COHA

The Mexican judicial system is deeply flawed due to corrupt processes and to the fact that rather than someone being presumed innocent when they are arrested, they are presumed guilty and spend their time behind bars until their cases are resolved. Now, there is a decades-long bottleneck in the court system, which means that many of the inmates could potentially be innocent or have a waiting period behind bars that can end up being actually longer than the maximum sentence for the crime they were initially arrested for.

Added to this, Mexican jails are infamous for overpopulation, drug use, abusive guards and corruption. So before you get on your high horse give the inmates a break, shall we? Things are of course more complicated for female inmates as they are often abandoned to their own devices by associates whose modus operandi is to dispose of women in an abusive manner. The Mexican judicial system is also tough on women, as there is a social stigma that affects those who are arrested while being mothers. They are judged as malas madres and treated in a tough and sometimes cruel way by judges and authorities.