LadyFest Miami is a grassroots festival in South Florida, organized by volunteers, that showcases local talent and engages residents on local issues through music, art, and workshops. LadyFest Miami notes that its purpose is to provide “an inclusive space for ALL wom@n and their allies to unite, challenge patriarchal expectations, and celebrate womanhood in its many forms.” LadyFest Miami will take place Friday, September 25 – Saturday, September 26, 2015. We spoke to the founder of the Latinegras organization and friend of BoriquaChicks.com, Omilani, about why she will be participating. The talented singer, songwriter, educator, and filmmaker will host a live performance on Friday and showcase the Latinegras documentary on Saturday. To view the LadyFest Miami schedule, click here.
Omilani has been involved with the festival for two years, but has been an activist for various women, community, and Latino/a issues since she was 12 years old. Becoming involved with LadyFest Miami was a natural progression for her. As a teenager she worked hard to ease tensions between the Latino and African-American communities–leading workshops and using the arts as a catalyst for social change.
In addition to traveling to Cuba as a youth, Omilani was featured in the media several times for her work in bridging the gap between African-American and Latino communities in North Carolina.
(historical media clippings via Omilani)
When she was approached about participating in LadyFest Miami, she had no idea that it was such a massive movement. LadyFest festivals have taken place all over the world since 2000. Although each festival is not connected, they each promote women involved in arts and activism.
Check out highlights from our conversation with Omilani below.
Omilani shares her motivation behind participating in this special event:
Everyone needs a space where they feel free to be themselves. LadyFest is more than just an arts festival highlighting expressions of creativity. It is a celebration of womanhood, and women as women define themselves.
On owning her identity:
I’ve always been the underdog. People laughed at me, kicked me around, and made fun of who I am. I wish I could say that was only in my youth, but as an adult who has been blessed with many talents, I have found myself the target of mean-spiritedness too. These things can weigh heavy on your spirit and make you not want to be who you were born to be. For many years, I kept all of that inside. I was in denial of who I am and felt a pressure to meet the identity expectations of my environment.
On creating more than just a project with Latinegras:
As a songwriter, music is my therapy and I just wrote out my thoughts line by line in a song “Latinegras.” Life is a heckuva thing when you feel all alone, but as I shared my story I realized I wasn’t alone. People not only related but wanted to know what was next, what more, and how we can move beyond the issues. Latinegras has been healing for me and many people. Sharing my story was the turning point. I realized that I am not just a color, I have a culture, I have an identity, a land base, and an ancestral calling to do this work. The more I deny me, the harder life is, therefore Latinegras is more than just a “project,” it is a life mission that transforms everyday.
Watch the Latinegras trailer below.
Flashback to last year….
— Y.R.Public Relations (@yrprmiami) September 20, 2014
Check out more tweets from last year’s discussion here and join this year’s conversation by using #LatinegrasLadyFest.
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