Political Art in a Trump Era

Felt compelled to share this excellently-written piece by my friend Kaiya Lyons on her new blog about the intersection of art and law.

Although it’s entirely legal, the corporations’ readiness to pull out their funding evokes an ominous vision of the theatre community’s future. Especially considering the Trump administration’s proposed elimination of the NEA, corporate sponsorship of the arts in the Trump era is likely to be paramount to sustaining our country’s strong commitment to artistic freedom and, ultimately, free speech. Without active public funds going to the arts, it will fall upon corporations and individuals to prevent the chilling of artistic expression and political speech, which is “indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth” and essential to thwart tyranny and corruption.



The house is quiet
the door cracked open
hum of the fridge and
unmade bed
soft glow of the bedside lamp and
pictures glisten in their frames of
happier times before you left.

You left, while your body stayed
arms around me in the morning, frayed
and I held your hapless shell, hoping
empty plastic water bottles littering the nightstand
and your many guitars were signs that
you were still home.

Se resuelve: from the minds of two first-generation Cubans

While celebrities, journalists, and fashion show-goers sit front row clutching their boy bags and fedoras, don’t think about the fact that fashion has picked Cuba as the latest culture to appropriate, the latest “picturesque” setting to serve as a backdrop for painfully romantic images and for a fantasized source of inspiration. Don’t think about the fact that Chanel coming to Cuba may be the first of an invasion of multinational companies to disrupt the “untouched charm” of the lonely island. Don’t think about the fact that outside observers think they have the right to scramble onto the island and experience the crippled country “as is” before those multinational companies get in.

Don’t think about the fact that down the street from Chanel’s stage are 11 million Cubans who haven’t known so many of the pleasures and freedoms we all take for granted in our capitalist and “globalized” 21st century. Don’t think about those 11 million Cubans that can’t afford to lay on the white sand of Varadero’s beaches, where they once watched the water illuminate with nightfall. Definitely don’t think about the other three million Cubans who are political exiles, scattered around the world, watching from afar as the home they had no choice but to leave half a century ago, the home they will not return to for fear of pain, is suddenly the stage of a fashion show. Don’t think about the first generation Cubans, or the second generation Cubans, who never experienced the pain first hand, but have grown up hearing the stories and occasional allusion to the days where families were torn apart. Don’t think about the fact that the pain felt by Cuban exiles is so powerful that it surpasses generations and time, as embedded in Cuban culture as Celia Cruz and cigars. 

-Enrique Menendez

Cuba’s been getting more attention than usual lately—something or other about America extending a friendly handshake after 50 years of a cold shoulder. People had feelings. Cubans and Cuban-Americans had feelings. Then, Carnival announced it would be sailing to Cuba (barring people of Cuban descent from riding, of course). People had more feelings. Last week, Chanel’s Cruise fashion show took place on El Paseo del Prado, an iconic walkway in the middle of Havana. People have more feelings. I am one of those people.

Like many hyphenated Americans, I feel both completely at home in my cultural duality and completely alien. I know for a fact if I were to set foot in Cuba, I’d be una gringa¸ but at college in the Northeast I was “spicy” to my new friends. Similarly, I’ve often expressed feeling torn about this whole Cuba ordeal. At the root of this unrest is some small comfort at the thought of Cubans soon having access to resources, information, and other crucial commodities we in America take for granted (and I tread carefully when I say lack—as one of my friends who recently immigrated from the island put it, he didn’t realize what he was missing until he came here). On the other hand, I see the histories of my family and many I know woven tightly into this decision, every new development tugging them directly this way or that.


Courtesy of Google Images

Continue reading “Se resuelve: from the minds of two first-generation Cubans”

Let Me Edit Your Life

Friends, bloggers, countrymen: I am now officially available for all your copywriting and editing needs. After years of editing resumes and cover letters on the fly, I put my English major to good use and established myself as a freelance writer.

Unofficially, I regularly edit and write for my friends and extended circles, but I am now offering my services to the public. Please visit my Writing Services tab (under Written) for more information about what I can do for you.

Drowning in Theatre

I saw three plays this weekend.

That may not seem like much, but add that to my 40+ hour a week (emphasis on the plus) theatre job and rehearsals for my play, and it seems almost masochistic to voluntarily spend any more of my time inside a theatre–alas, I saw some really great theatre this weekend. Two of the three shows were a part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival currently happening in DC, although all three were about women. Yay, girl power!


Saturday evening, I accompanied a friend to see Theatre J’s season opener, Queen’s Girl in the World. It is an autobiographical one-woman show written by Caleen Sinette Jennings, currently a professor at American University. An incredibly layered performance by Dawn Ursula depicts Jennings’ life as a black girl at the height of the Civil Rights movement in New York City. It has been a while since a show held my attention so singularly. I couldn’t look away from Ursula for even a moment. This is easily one of the best pieces of art I’ve seen presented onstage in a long time.

Continue reading “Drowning in Theatre”

24 on the 24th

It’s mind-boggling that exactly a year ago I was beginning my adventure in Spain. I spent my 23rd birthday surrounded by strangers, half a world away from my loved ones. I think that was the year my concept of birthdays changed from a “me me me me me” outlook to a “let’s celebrate life” mentality. Coincidentally, the 24th of September is a Catholic feast day, Dia de la Merced, which is one of Barcelona’s huge annual festivals. There was no better way to celebrate my new life and another year lived.


This year, I find myself in yet another new city, overwhelmed by opportunity despite recent setbacks. I feel celebrated, I feel loved, and I am grateful. This weekend was exactly what I needed to get me through the slew of 12-hour days, weekend work hours, and physical challenges that will continue into the next few weeks.

Time seems to be an underlying theme of this post. In the three months since I moved to DC, I have: lived with 12 housemates, broken a bone, started a new job, tried Ethiopian food for the first time, walked out of a bad show at intermission, watched my favorite band live, landed a role in a play, and let strangers sign my cast.

I am thrilled to see where the next year takes me. I feel rich in possibility.