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

Mexico Looks To Ban Beauty Pageants For Contributing To Machismo Attitudes And Violence Against Women

Things That Matter

Mexico Looks To Ban Beauty Pageants For Contributing To Machismo Attitudes And Violence Against Women

Paras Griffin / Getty Images

Beauty pageants have long been an integral part of Mexican celebrations – from Carnival to fiestas celebrating a Pueblo’s patron saint, they’re extremely common. However, as violence against women soars to new records across the country, Mexico’s newly formed ‘Gender Equality Commission’ has introduced new measures that would effectively ban beauty pageants.

The commission sees beauty pageants as contributing to gender stereotypes, machismo attitudes, and, in turn, endemic violence against women.

However, many Mexicans have already voiced their strong opposition to the proposed rules and intent to fight back against them.

Mexico’s Gender Equality Commission has announced new rules that would ban beauty pageants in the country.

The Mexican Congress has taken up recommendations that the country move to ban beauty pageants. The new bill, based on recommendations from the Gender Equality Commission, would include new provisions to the general law on Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence.

The commission introduced several new provisions meant to help reduce violence against women, but the one that many Mexicans are talking about is the potential beauty pageant ban – as beauty pageants are a major part of Mexican society.

Members of the commission expressed their objection towards any such form of competition in which beauty or physical appearance of women, girls, or adolescents is evaluated in full or in part based on sexist stereotypes.

“We believe that beauty contests are events which show women through socio-cultural standards and under gender stereotypes as an instrument to maintain the concept of a female body as an object. This limits the personal development of the participants,” the members added.

Under the new guidelines, pageants will not be able to use public resources, official promotion, subsidies and any kind of economic or institutional support for carrying out these kinds of shows. It’s also possible that privately-funded pageants could be subject to the ban.

Mexico has long suffered from gender-based violence but the issue is getting worse year after year.

Credit: Toyo Sarno Jordan / Getty Images

In Mexico, the rallying cry “Ni Una Menos” has been on the tips of everyone’s tongue as violence against women has spiraled out of control in 2020. Before the Coronavirus pandemic forced people to stay home, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans took part in some of the largest protests ever seen across the country, denouncing the growing violence epidemic.

So far, an average of 10 women are killed everyday in Mexico. And 911 calls for domestic violence are up more than 60%, as women are forced to stay home with their abuser.

Meanwhile, the country’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has brushed off the killings as being sensationalized by his opposition to make him look bad. In fact, after news broke of a recent woman’s murder, AMLO was asked about her death at a press conference. However, he told reporters that he did not want to talk about gender-motivated killings of women because he did not want “femicides to distract from the raffle,” referring to a raffle his administration had organized around the sale of the presidential airplane.

The country has a long history of competing in international beauty pageants.

Credit: Miss International Queen

Beauty pageants have been popular in Mexico for several decades and many Mexicans have preformed well at both national and international competitions. So it’s no surprise that many have come out against the announcement and expressed their sadness about the end of pageants.

Several Mexican women have won big at international competitions, including: Vanessa Ponce De Leon (Miss World 2018), Sofia Aragon (2nd Runner Up Miss Universe 2019), and Andrea Toscano (1st Runner Up Miss International 2019).

A Mexican transgender woman also won out over contestants from 21 countries, at Thailands Miss International Queen. Valentina Fluchaire was crowned queen in 2019 at the annual pageant for transgender women in Thailand.

This Is What Mexico Looks Like As It Reopens During A Global Pandemic

Things That Matter

This Is What Mexico Looks Like As It Reopens During A Global Pandemic

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

Step outside into Mexico’s capital (home to more than 20 million people) and you’d be forgiven for not realizing we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic that’s killed more than half a million people.

As of this week, several Mexican states have entered the initial phase of reopening and Mexicans are taking full advantage of the newly found sense of ‘freedom’ – visiting restaurants, cafés and shops in droves. However, experts warn that Mexico will likely follow the dangerous path of the United States – which opened prematurely and is now having to shut down businesses once again as cases reach record levels.

Here’s an inside look into the daily reality of Chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) and what the future holds for the country amid Coronavirus.

Mexico City – along with 17 other states – have entered the first phase of a gradual reopening.

Despite being home to the largest number of active cases across Mexico, the capital joined 17 other states in a phased reopening this week. Mexico City lowered its contagion risk from a level red (the most extreme) to level orange, which permits some businesses to reopen.

However, Mexico City – on the day of the reopening – saw a record 5,432 new cases and 638 confirmed deaths. Mayor Sheinbaum said that the switch to orange was possible because hospital occupancy levels are at 59% and trending downwards. But to many, the government is prioritizing the economy over public safety and health. Several government officials insisted that it was safe to proceed to the reduced warning level but health experts disagreed.

The mayor stressed that if hospital occupancy levels go above 65% again, red light restrictions will be reinstated. She urged residents to continue to take precautions to reduce the risk of infection. People should continue to stay at home as much as possible and the use of face masks in public places remains mandatory.

Along with Mexico City, 17 other states moved into the orange phase of reopening – including tourist hotspots of Jalisco, Veracruz, Quintana Roo, and Yucatan.

The federal government instituted a traffic light system to simplify the risk management of Covid-19

Credit: omgitsjustintime/ Instagram

Shortly after the Coronavirus outbreak began, the federal government instituted a color-coded risk management system to simplify its messaging. With red being the highest risk level and green being the lowest, every state until June 15th was still in the red level.

As of July 1, 18 states are now in the orange level. This means that restaurants, cafés, and shops can begin to reopen with reduced capacity. Hotels and markets will also be allowed to resume service, meaning that tourism will likely begin to pick up again very soon.

President AMLO has been eager to get the economy reopened after it was reported that at least one million formal jobs have been lost and the country’s economy is expected to shrink by 8.8% this year.

On the first day of reopening, shops in Mexico City’s historic center were jammed full of shoppers.

Credit: Raul Hidalgo / Getty Images

The city’s historical center is a hub of economic activity. You can literally find pretty much anything you could ever want in these cobblestones streets. The district is home to more than 27,000 businesses and as of this week they’re now permitted to open once again. And resident wasted no time in hitting the shops.

Long lines formed outside shops with few people wearing masks and most stores not truly enforcing social distancing requirements. Some offered antibacterial gel and took people’s temperatures before allowing them to enter.

Officially, shops and businesses with an odd street number are permitted to open three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, whereas even-numbered shops can open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

In order to prevent crowds from accumulating and promote social distancing, 31 streets were converted into pedestrian-only zones.

Restaurants, cafés, and shopping centers are all open for business – with some protective measurements in place.

Credit: omgitsjustintime/ Instagram

Even before the official change to semáforo naranja, several restaurants and cafés were already offering dine-in service. But now restaurants are officially allowed to operate at limited capacity, while staff are required to wear masks and shields, and restaurants are’s allowed to play music or issue reusable menus.

Street markets, known as tianguis, will also be allowed to restart which will help many of the city’s informal workers. And the following week, department stores and shopping malls will also be allowed to reopen at 30% capacity and with limited hours.

Mexico is hardly finished with the Coronavirus threat – in fact, cases have been reaching record levels.

Credit: Covid.gob.mx

Although not yet at the levels seen in the U.S. or Brazil, Mexico has been struggling with its response to the Coronavirus pandemic. As of July 1, the country has had more than 225,000 confirmed cases and almost 28,000 deaths, with Mexico City being the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak.

And the worst doesn’t appear to be over. In a Covid-19 situation report published Monday, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security noted that Mexico had reported a decreasing daily incidence for three consecutive days.

“However, Mexico does not yet appear to have reached its peak,” the report said. “Based on recent trends, we expect Mexico to report increasing daily incidence over the coming days. Mexico is currently No. 6 globally in terms of daily incidence,” it added.