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Thursday, March 16, 2017



The Smiling Brown Play/presentation/performance was historic. It was nothing short of amazing. Below is the schedule for March 12. I can say it was intense. The good news is that it was taped. This project is akin to the Vagina monologues. The most important aspect of Smiling Brown is the dialogue. From the discussion held at the end, it was decided that we may do it again for 5 de Mayo in Tucson, but also in Phoenix in April and possibly in San Antonio before the actual premiere in Los Angeles. It will also make for great curriculum. With the footage from Jason Aragon of Pan Left, we will produce, perhaps a mini-documentary and perhaps a 10-12 minute version that can be used in schools and other educational settings. The topic of color and light-skin preference is very powerful and in many cases is taboo. The project is ongoing. Feel free to send in writings/poems, recordings or videotaped testimonios. March 12 at the Tucson Festival of books barely scratched the surface. But also, that is a reminder; Smiling Brown will also be a book. Send to: More details later. At the moment, a huge thank you to all participated in the Tucson preview and all those who have sent in testimonios to different parts of the country. In the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2018, there will be a Smiling Brown tour. The hopes are for the premier in the Spring of 2018 in Los Angeles. Will keep everyone posted re this.


Light skin preference and the denial of Indigeneity.
by Roberto Rodriguez.

What this project/book/play examines is light-skin preference in the Mexican, Central American and Andean communities of this nation, particularly in relationship to indigeneity and denial of indigeneity. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this is a taboo topic in these communities. The reason for that is because the play primarily examines the internal dimension to this phenomenon; i.e. how it plays out within family/relatives/friends. The external of course manifests as racial profiling in all of this society's institutions. Part of what the play chooses to examine are the earliest memories when children become conscious of their color and that there is meaning attached to their color, and of course, most of these memories are negative.


Somos Mas Americanos – Tigres del Norte

Dulce Juarez (tape)

Why am I so Brown? By Trinidad Sanchez

SMILING BROWN 2:30-4:30pm

Opening Poem: Susana Sandoval 7 min (live)

Susana is a poet, human rights and Indigenous rights activist. She recently spent 3 months at Standing Rock.

Sarah Gonzalez MC
Sarah Gonzales is an artist, community organizer and educator living in Tucson.

Roberto Rodriguez Dr. Cintli: Genesis of the Smiling Brown Project:
Associate Professor in Mexican American Studies at the UA, founder of the Smiling Brown Project and a life-long writer. Currently writes for Diverse Issues in Higher Education.
Mictlani Classroom powerpoint re color preference.
As a critical educator my objective has been to interrogate colonization through a decolonizing curricular and pedagogical focus in a K-5 classroom setting; the most decolonizing experience that I’ve provided my students is the opportunity to love their humanity, contrary to the dehumanizing goal of colonization. This self love objective is rooted in the study of this ancient energy of Tezcatlipoca as experienced by my students’ love for the color of their skin, expressed through art and poetry. 

The Vai Se Voi family: Presentation on raising their family right (and importance of Indigeneity to family/community).
Chanequeh Vai Sevoi, Tetaviecti, Cajeme, Sewailo, Gigi Naamu, Tuituli, Marisella Kurues, Chucho, and Maria. Calpollequeh of Teoxicalli Pueblo Tlamanalco. Maria and Chucho are the proud parents of 6 beautiful children, instilling self-love and self-worth through cultura.

Anabel Aguayo: Morena Color de Llanta:
Anabel is a social worker and a graduate of the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.

Alexandria Partida; live testimonio
Alexandria is a University of Arizona graduate and an aspiring doctora.

Monica Contreras - live testimonio
Monica Contreras is a recent graduate from the University of Arizona's Mexican American Studies program. She is a former MEChista, proud Chicana and was born in Arizona.

*Diana Diaz - videotaped testimonio
Diana Díaz was born in Fresno, CA to Mexican and Salvadoran migrants. She graduated from the University of Arizona with my Bachelor's in Art with an emphasis in Linguistics.

Eva Alcalde & Mictlan Alcalde testimonies
Eva (mother) and Mictlan (son) were both born in Tucson. Mictlan is aspiring to be a warrior artist, and his mother is a visual artist. Eva has received her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees from Arizona State University School of Social Work. Mictlan attends Roskruge Middle School and is in the 6th grade.
Alfred Chavez taped testimonio
Alfred, a graduate of Northern Arizona University was born and went to school in Tucson. He has dedicated his testimonio to his Nana Nellie.

Timo Padilla poem
Timoteio is a public health educator, poet and emcee working within the anti-violence movement. Timoteio organizes, educates and works to end violence against women, and build solidarity with LGBTQ identified folks, while considering intersections of privilege and power as they relate to masculinity. Timoteio pursues this work through a decolonizing framework, dismantling systems of oppression, while building towards indigenous resilience. 

Ruben Botello: Anglolocation:
Ruben is retired and works at Americas and Caribbean Islands Union & American Homeless Society  

Susana Sandoval & Karizma Blackburn: testimonios
From Chicago, Susana was our opening poet. Her daughter: Karizma Blackburn is a writer, vocalist, activist who has traveled to Kenya and Standing Rock, North Dakota to fight for water rights. 

Juvenal Caporale:
Juvenal is a PhD candidate in the Mexican American Studies Department at the University of Arizona. His research interests include street gangs, criminalization, and youth identity and resiliency.

Tara Truddell: poetry and performance of her works and the works of her father, the late John Truddell. 

Armando Bernal:
Armando, born in Tucson, is a long-time Tucson educator and a retired librarian.  

Leilani Clark poem
Leilani is a Tucson native, long time immigration, human and Indigenous rights activist.She currently lives in Las Vegas.

DIALOGUE WITH AUDIENCE: Moderated by Sarah Gonzalez

Piel Canela
By Anna NietoGomez

“I grew up believe everyone’s skin color was some color brown.  Perhaps that is because I am brown, and people in my family were either lighter or darker than I. It’s rather funny that of those who are some color of brown, I do not know who is darker or lighter.  I don’t even describe what color of brown I am.  I think it is because it changes from season to season, and it seems to be a different color now that I am older.  But when I see a picture of myself it is a smiling brown, but not the color of a brown crayon… “

For an article on this topic, please go to Nakum Journal:…/smiling-brown-gente-de-bron…

Thanks to all who have assisted in this process, including everyone presenting on March 12, and also: Evelina Fernandez, Jose L. Valenzuela, Andrea Romero, Cathy Gastelum, Marc Pinate, Milta Ortiz, Jose Garcia, Anna Ochoa O’Leary, Ada Wilkinson-Lee, Kyle Peterson, Anahi Herrera, Elizabeth Soltero, Jason Aragon and Brillana Barraza.

Because it is an ongoing project, we are still looking for stories, written, recorded or videotaped: Inquire or send to:

You can support this project with a tax-deductible donation to the University of Arizona Foundation.

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