Dedicated to women of color and gender non-conforming people of color in higher education.
Cover Art: She Made Me Nervous (2012) – Courtesy of Favianna Rodriguez
Acknowledgments from Guest Editor Ramona Beltrán
In summer of 2013, I was attending Café Cultura’s open mic night in Denver. The community feature that night happened to be Native students from the Upward Bound program at University of Colorado, Boulder led by the multi-talented, Tanaya Winder. A dear friend introduced me to Tanaya and shortly after shaking my hand she gave me a copy of the second issue of As/Us. I couldn’t wait to open the glossy covered book and when I did, I was met with words that resonated with my soul. As I explored the many forms expressed in those pages from other Indigenous women, I felt as if they were speaking words of my heart. I decided to include several of the issues in a community-organizing course I teach at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work. As expected, students were profoundly moved and transformed by the bravery, vulnerability, and creativity within the stories, poetry, and images. In fact, students said repeatedly that the As/Us literature helped them make sense of and give body and name to the academic readings, theories, and concepts we were studying in our class. This is what poetry and art does. It moves and teaches us ways that our intellectual and academic pursuits cannot. It takes us places inside others and ourselves and illuminates pain, joy, despair, elation, laughter, systemic oppression, social justice…it makes us feel about what we think, see, and study. It offers us nuanced answers to the questions evoked by our spiritual and material lives. And when we listen, it requires us to translate those answers into action.
Since Tanaya first handed me my first copy, I have been committed to the As/Us movement and the community that she and Co-Editor, Casandra Lopez built. I published my own creative works for the first time in Issue 3 and was welcomed into the growing community of contributors dedicated to amplifying our voices in ways that are for us and by us. It was over a cup of coffee that I told Tanaya how important this journal had become for my students, my community, and myself. I also mentioned how healing it was to have my voice validated in the As/Us community as a woman of color who struggles to feel seen in the academy. It was then that she had the idea of doing a special issue of the journal dedicated to other women like me, as well as gender non-conforming folks of color, who often swim against the current in the ocean of academia. It was both terrifying and thrilling to consider taking on that role and stepping into Tanaya and Casandra’s shoes. The process has been an incredible teacher to me. I am humbled by the beauty and power of all of the pieces and people represented in this issue. There were times that their voices kept me afloat within my work and within my institution. For that, I am so deeply grateful.
I want to acknowledge both Tanaya Winder and Casandra Lopez for the important work they do to create space for our voices to be centered. Thank you to Print Production Editor Bob Sabatini and the entire As/Us team. Special thanks to Dr. Debora Ortega and the University of Denver Latino Center for Community Engagement and Scholarship and Dr. Tom Romero and the Interdisciplinary Research Incubator for the Study of (In)Equality for your support and encouragement of this project. Thank you James Herbert Williams and Michele Hanna at University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work for your support of my scholarship and teaching. Thank you to Kali Jefferson and Esther Turcios for assisting me with the many details leading up to production. In acknowledging my intellectual genealogy, I also give thanks to my fierce women of color mentors, who paved the path for me: Karina Walters, Bonnie Duran, Tessa Evans-Campbell, Irene Vernon, and Deb Ortega. I also want to acknowledge my friends and family for always holding me through my journey in academia and life: Dr. Gita R. Mehrotra, Belinda Beltran, Vincent Gonzalez, Tetabiate Gonzalez-Beltran. I extend blessings and gratitude to all of the contributors featured in this special issue. A special shout-out to Elton Naswood for introducing me to Tanaya, and to all the women in the “Binders Full of Women of Color in Academia” group. Forever in my life, any effort of which I am a part is dedicated to my mother, Consuela Castro Beltran.