Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Our Photovoice journey: An act of exhausting bravery

Our paper brings you more than just “lessons learned,” instead, we show you how fears are deeply embedded in the political statements that our photographs attempt to visualize.  These fears, however, are interlaced by hope, conviction, strength and the belief that our voices, as U.S. Latinas, are needed to frame those political statements.

Initially, the North Portland HEAL Photovoice project hoped to use photographs to understand the everyday lives of Latino immigrant families in North Portland, however, we ran with the project and used photographs to bring forth our voices (which are either submerged or obscured by institutional practices that claim to speak for us). In short, we wanted to make a political statement about U.S. Latinas as creators of knowledge.

Political statements, however, bring out doubts and forces mujeres have to be brave.  The work that you see in these pages, while brave, is also extremely exhausting.  We write about the need to speak up in order to enact change but also write about the fear that often mutes the voices of women of color.   We fear that our experiential knowledge as Latinas could be swept aside. During the project we also came to realize how the many forms of oppression that operate at every level of society, especially in those the institutions that we participate in, could affect how we participated in this project. Finally, we feared that there would be limits to how much change our photographs could make in our communities.

This article is not a manual. It is just one way that one can use participatory action approaches to truly and sincerely give voice to those in our communities.  Our modification of the Photovoice methodology, which we dubbed as Mujerista Photovoice, is an invitation to challenge the way we do methods so we can make more visible the remaining work that needs to be done.

We look forward to continuing this discussion with you! Please offer comments or questions!
Angie Pamela Mejia, Olivia Quiroz, Yolanda Morales, Ruth Ponce, Graciela Limon Chavez, and Elizabeth Olivera y Torre

FREE access to this article for the next 30 days is available through this link. 

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