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. 

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???? 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

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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. 

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How Latino Organizers in Arizona Helped Flip the State From Red to Blue

Entertainment

How Latino Organizers in Arizona Helped Flip the State From Red to Blue

Photo by Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images

When Arizona was officially called for Joe Biden this year, a number of think pieces appeared on the internet that assigned the responsibility of Biden’s win to white Republicans. Headlines ran calling the victory “John McCain’s Revenge”–a reference to the late Arizona senator who had a contentious relationship with Donald Trump. Pundits hypothesized that white Republican voters cast their vote for Biden to spite Donald Trump, who had previously insulted the beloved Arizona Senator’s military record.

Soon after this narrative began to trend, Latinos quickly took to social media to set the record straight. “Hey @CNN,” wrote Julio Ricardo Varela on Twitter. “@CindyMcCain is not the only reason that Biden won Arizona. It wasn’t just that. Can you at least discuss the overwhelming Latino support and the organizing history of young Latinos in the time of SB1070?”

In the noise of election pontificating, the media largely ignored the efforts of Latino grassroots organizers. The efforts that ultimately helped flip Arizona. It is not a coincidence that Latinos now constitute the base of the Democratic party in Arizona.

It was no coincidence that so many Latinos mobilized this year. In fact, the event was a deliberate and organized process spearheaded by activist groups like the MiAZ coalition. The MiAZ coalition is a five activist groups that organized a massive field campaign targeting Latino voters. Altogether, Mi AZ reports that they made nearly 8 million calls and knocked on over 1.15 million doors.

Mi AZ reports Latino voter turnout in Arizona was at an all-time high of 50% this year, up from the record of 44% in 2016. The organization also reported to local news website AZ Central that according to their data analysis, “nearly 73% of Latino voters in key Latino-majority precincts in Arizona chose President-elect Joe Biden” over President Trump.

In an in-depth and touching Twitter thread, Arizona-based educator and organizer Reyna Montoya wrote a briefer on what changed Arizona from blue to red “for folks who may be wondering what is going on.”

In the thread, Montoya described her first-hand account of the trauma that Latinos in Arizona faced through the last few decades. A collective trauma that ended up mobilizing the Latino community for Biden.

Montoya described Arizona’s “English Only” law that passed in 2000. She then described Prop 300 in 2006, a measure that forbid students from receiving state financial aid for college if they couldn’t prove they were legal residents of Arizona. The final event was what most personally affected her: the passage of SB1070, a law that required all immigrants over the age of 18 to carry immigration documentation with them at all times.

“This was personal,” Montoya wrote on Twitter. “I remember my mom being scared. I remember being extreme cautions about driving anywhere.”

It was Arizona’s anti-Latino sentiment and, consequently, the legislation the state government passed to curb the rights of Latinos in the state that ended up backfiring. Instead of suppressing a community, the anti-Latino legislation ended up lighting a fire under many young Latinos, prompting them to organize. To fight back.

“In 2011, we decided to organize, build community and focus on rebuilding Arizona.,” Montoya wrote so brilliantly on Twitter. “Since 2011 until now, we have been educating others on immigration.”

“We have decided to no longer remain in the shadows,” she said. “We decided to let our voices be heard.”

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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.

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