Fierce

Celebrate This Cool Jefa: Luisa Capetillo The Boricua Activist Arrested For Wearing Pants

Born on October 28, 1879, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Luisa Capetillo is best known for her contributions to the labor and anarchist movements in Puerto Rico at the time. She’s also famously remembered as the first Puerto Rican woman to ever have worn pants in public. 

However, her commitment to break the glass ceiling and break traditional societal norms imposed on women extended beyond her fashion choices. Capetillo was a diligent organizer and passionate activist who advocated for women’s rights. She was an all-around badass. 

In a children’s e-book on Rejected Princesses, you can learn more about Luisa Capetillo’s life, one learns about her beginnings and when she first started to become an activist. 

In 1951, Luisa Capetillo became the first Puerto Rican woman to ever wear pants in public in 1951. 

Due to this, it’s been said that she was stopped and arrested for “causing a scandal.” News outlets back then reported that Capetillo defended herself ardently against the claims that she was causing a scandal for wearing pants. 

She has been quoted as saying, “Your Honor, I always wear pants,” and then slightly lifted her dress to show a pair of loose white pants. “And on the night in question, instead of wearing them underneath, I wore them just like men do, based on my perfect civil right to do so, on the outside.” Tell em, Capetillo.  

Luisa Capetillo was homeschooled by her parents.

Her mother, Luisa Margarita Perone, was a French immigrant who worked in domestic work and her father, Luis Capetillo Echevarría, who was from Spain, worked in labor. Her parents never married but they formed a partnership strong enough to raise a young fiery and passionate woman. 

Capetillo’s parents were also drawn together by their similar “beliefs in democratic ideals expressed in the attempted European revolutions of 1848.” They devoted their time to homeschooling her through a liberal education that was infused with ideological influences of both the French Revolution and the workers’ rights movement in Northern Spain. 

Her homeschool education heavily influenced the work she would be later known for. 

After a romance that didn’t end well, and that resulted in two children, she began working as a reader at a tobacco company after the Spanish-American war in Puerto Rico. Readers were needed at companies because, at the time, most of the workforce was illiterature and poorly-educated. As a result, unions hired readers to read newspapers and books out loud during work hours. 

The tobacco factory was also where Capetillo first came into contact with labor unions. What she learned through unions, she used to educate many women across Puerto Rico. 

Her work at the tobacco company also inspired her to write opinion essays and in her writing, she criticized the labor conditions tobacco workers were exposed to.

In an essay titled, “Mi opinión,” Capetillo writes: “Oh you woman! who is capable and willing to spread the seed of justice; do not hesitate, do not fret, do not run away, go forward! And for the benefit of the future generations place the first stone for the building of social equality in a serene but firm way, with all the right that belongs to you, without looking down, since you are no longer the ancient material or intellectual slave.” 

Further, working at the tobacco company led her to organize strikes. It also led her to become an anarchist and inspired material for the four books that she would write. 

Luisa Capetillo was a feminist way ahead of her time and advocated heavily for women’s rights.

Especially when it had to do with female agency. For 1910, she definitely way ahead of the curve. 

View this post on Instagram

???? Mes de la mujer: Luisa Capetillo Born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico in 1879, Luisa was homeschooled by her parents and later became one of the island’s most important women’s rights activists of her time. She worked as a reader in a cigar making factory and that provided her with her first experiences with labor unions. In 1904, she wrote Mi Opinión (My Opinion), which encouraged women to fight for equal rights. Capetillo’s writing often discusses identity and seeks to motivate women. In her essay ¿Anarquista y espiritista? (Anarchist and Spiritis?) she discusses how she considered herself to be both. • Luis is best known for her involvement in the 1905 farm workers’ strike. She became the leader of the American Federation of Labor and began urging women to fight for their rights. In 1908, she asked the union to approve a women’s suffrage policy. Four years later, she traveled to NYC and Florida to organize Cuban and Puerto Rican tobacco workers; she joined various labor strikes in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Capetillo was also the first woman in Puerto Rico to wear pants in public. In 1910, it was illegal for women to wear pants in public and she was jailed (the charges were eventually dropped). Later that year, she helped pass a minimum wage law in Puerto Rico. Luisa Capetillo passed away in October 1922. • Capetillo’s legacy includes Casa Protegida Luisa Capetillo: a non-profit organization whose purpose is to defend mistreated women, the Luisa Capetillo Center of Documentation at UPR Cayey: a part of the university’s Women’s Studies project, and a plaque in La Plaza en Honor a la Mujer Puertorriqueña. ⚡️ Luisa Capetillo was submitted as a mujer pode???? by one of program organizers/coordinators in Puerto Rico! ⚡️ Stay posted for tomorrow’s mujer pode???? from another one of our team members! ????: Libcom.org • • • • • • • • • • • #puertorico #womenshistorymonth #womenshistory #luisacapetillo #arecibo #history #mujer #mujerpoderosa #studyabroad #westernillinois #westernillinoisuniversity #wiu #wiu18 #wiu19 #wiu20 #wiu21 #wiu22 #wiu23 #puertoricanhistory

A post shared by WIU Study Abroad | Puerto Rico (@wiu_puertorico) on

The social labor organizer became well known for her advocacy for equal rights for women, free love, and human emancipation. She developed a lot of her ideals of anarchism and romanticism from being an avid reader as a child. She read a lot of French literature from writers including Victor Hugo and Emile Zola. She also read a lot of Russian Romantics like Leo Tolstoy. 

She died of tuberculosis in 1922 but her legacy and impact as one of Puerto Rico’s first women suffragists live on. 

In 1912, she traveled to New York City where she organized workers in the tobacco factories there. From 1916-1918, she was involved in an intense period of strikes and she would constantly travel from New York City and Puerto Rico. 

She even traveled to Cuba to work with the Federation of Anarchists of Cuba. A couple of years after she contracted tuberculosis and died at 42. 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Boricua Is Being Forced To Defend Her Identity As An Asian-Puerto Rican On TikTok

Culture

This Boricua Is Being Forced To Defend Her Identity As An Asian-Puerto Rican On TikTok

@Keishlaheli / TikTok

People of all sorts of racial identities and backgrounds exist all over the world. However, many people remain ignorant to the ways in which different cultures and races change and take on new identities – especially as mixed race individuals are so often forced to walk a thin line between their identities.

Now, a popular Tik Toker from Puerto Rico is being forced to defend her identity as a Puerto Rican because trolls are accusing her of cultural appropriation. Although she might not look like what many expect a Puerto Rican woman to look like, Keishla is all about educating her followers and giving a voice to mixed race Puerto Ricans.

TikToker Keishla is being forced to defend her identity as a Boricua simply because she also has Asian heritage.

Mixed race communities and cultures exist everywhere. Facts are facts. But it’s obvious that not everyone is willing to accept these facts. Case in point: Keishla – a very popular TikToker, who is being forced to defend her own identity.

Keishla, who was born and raised on the island in the town of Borikén is obviously of Asian descent but she also claims her Puerto Rican identity with pride. Videos addressing the topic have gone viral and the comments that followed show a widespread lack of understanding about the diversity of race in Puerto Rico and beyond.

Keishla’s parents were born in China and later migrated to Puerto Rico, she explains in several videos. Some users, however, refused to accept the facts.

Keishla has had to deal with many ignorant comments across social media, but she’s got thousands of supporters also.

Ever since she launched her TikTok channel, users have come for Keishla and her identity and many have accused her of cultural appropriation.

While apparently trying to invalidate Keishla’s identity as a Boricua, one user wrote, “Lol u may consider her Puerto Rican but I don’t. Blood is more important than how she acts to me she can copy us but will never be us.”

And in typical Keishla fashion, she had the best response: “I respect your opinion, even though it’s a shitty opinion.”

Despite all the ignorance and trolls, Keishla has also seen an outpouring of support from fellow Boricuas, Latinos, and others among her more than 53,000 TikTok followers. The conversation has even moved over to Twitter, where many are supporting her identity while also addressing the hate from others.

“There’s a whole ass history of Asians in Caribbean culture,” one user wrote.

“Asians worked next to the slaves in the sugar cane fields in Cuba. Cuba has one of the oldest China towns in the Caribbean. So many Caribbean people have Chinese descent. Y’all don’t know how colonization work.”

Keishla is not alone: the Chinese have a long history on the island of Puerto Rico.

Credit: U.S. Library of Congress

Much like the mainland United States, Puerto Rico is a diverse community of cultures and races from all over the world. Anyone in the island or anyone who visits will notice right away that there is a major Asian community. Although it’s particularly conspicuous in the restaurant industry – with the traditional comida criolla – that’s not all. The Chinese community has contributed to Puerto Rico’s culture and economy in many significant ways.

Today, there are tens of thousands of Chinese Puerto Rican’s on the island. And although the most recent Census data only reports Asians as making up 0.2% of the population, many academics believe the count to be much higher.

Chinese migration has a long and varied history in Puerto Rico, with it reaching its peak in the late 1850s to 1880s. Many were fleeing war and economic devastation, and hundreds of thousands made their way to the U.S. – including Puerto Rico.

Some of these Chinese immigrants went instead to the Caribbean, though—some first to Cuba, where they were incarcerated due to labor revolts, then to Puerto Rico, where they served their sentence in what was essentially slave labor, working on major infrastructure projects.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with Keishla? Let us know in the comments.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Yalitza Aparicio Says She’s Waiting For A Role That Won’t Pigeonhole ‘Because of Appearance”

Entertainment

Yalitza Aparicio Says She’s Waiting For A Role That Won’t Pigeonhole ‘Because of Appearance”

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty

Since the start of her acting career, Oaxacan actress Yalitza Aparicio has been sure to see that her work helps uphold her community. While many actors on the rise tend to focus on racking up more acting roles and fame, Aparicio has been much more vocal about her desire to focus on her advocacy and work for organizations like Cine Too. What’s more, ensuring that she secures proper representation for Indigenous people like herself.

While Aparicio first made headlines and won our hearts with her performance in the 2018 film Roma the Indigenous actress has yet to appear in another role on screen.

It turns out, it isn’t for a lack of offers.

Speaking with Indie Wire about her career, Aparicio has said that she is taking her time to find a role that properly represents her and her community.

“My objective in my career is to give visibility to all of us who have been kept in the dark for so long,” Aparicio claimed in a recent interview with IndieWire. “The acting projects I’m working on are moving slowly because I’m putting all my efforts in not being pigeonholed because of my appearance.”

Aparicio, who is 26-years-old, was born in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, rocketed to fame when she took on the role of Cleo in Alfonso Cuarón’s 2018 movie Roma. The film, which was nominated for various Academy Awards followed Aparicio as Cleo a housekeeper who works in a wealthy household in Mexico City’s Colonia Roma. Aparicio’s role brought her praise not just for her skills but for her role in solidifying a much-needed portrayal of Mexico’s Indigenous community.

Still, despite the praise and fame, the role brought her, Aparicio is adamant that her next role will be something greater.

“I come from a community where there’s no movie theater, and as a consequence, the population — especially the children that grow up in those communities — has less of an interest in the cinematic arts. [Cine Too] has the possibility to reach these children and provide an opportunity to instill in them the passion for cinema and teach them about this art form,” she explained in her interview. “I’m conscious that every step I take may open doors for someone else and at the same time it’s an opportunity for society to realize we are part of it and that we are here,”

In her interview, Aparicio points out that while she is very aware that Indigenous filmmakers and allies “have a complicated job because these things can’t be changed overnight,” she is still pushing for real change.

“Wherever I go, I’ll always be proudly representing our Indigenous communities,” she asserted. “We can show people that the only limits are within us.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com