This week’s F.I.E.R.C.E Woman is someone who I have the utmost love and respect for. She is a woman who embodies everything that a F.I.E.R.C.E Woman is. She inspires, empowers, recognizes, and cultivates evolution. Maria Aponte is one of those people who by just being in her presence inspires you to believe that you are capable of doing anything. She is an educator, activist, author, performer, playwright, curator, producer, you name it she’s done it.
Born and raised in New York City’s East Harlem, (El Barrio) Maria has worked extensively in Latino Theatre. She has performed in various theatre productions; and videos that dealt with racial discrimination, women’s rights in theatre and film. Maria’s work as an artist and teacher is focused on community art related projects and the empowerment of women through positive affirmation of self esteem and education.
Her book Transitions of a Nuyorican Cinderella which was published in 2012 won 2nd place for Best Poetry in English at the 2013 International Latino Book Awards (an award that my book Letters to My Daughter is up for this year). Maria is everything that I aspire to be. She has recently launched Latina 50 Plus, a program which pays tribute to Latinas over fifty years of age who were pioneers. Women who shaped their careers in a time when Latina women were venturing onto pathways where very few Latinas were seen or accepted. This program acknowledges the trailblazers who were among the first in their profession. By creating this venue which expresses public appreciation for Latina women over fifty, Maria is giving these women the opportunity to tell their personal narratives so that they can provide a historical perspective on what it was like to have lived in a time when Latina feminism was not the norm or tolerated.
By honoring these Latina Pioneers, Maria believes that we are honoring the history of women of a certain generation who laid down the stepping stones of change for future generations of Latinas. These are the women who mentored and inspired younger women (like me) to pursue their own dreams and realize their own goals.
Personally, for me there are many Latina 50 Plus women who have inspired and continue to inspire me. What Maria is doing with Latinas 50 Plus is what I am doing with the I am F.I.E.R.C.E initiative for younger women. Coincidentally (or not) both of these initiatives launched around the same time. Maria, thank you for laying the foundation for Latinas like myself. It is because of you and women like you that I can dream and believe that those dreams are not only worth pursuing but also worth making come true. You are this week’s F.I.E.R.C.E Woman of the Week.
For more info on Maria or the work that she is doing with Latina 50 Plus visit her personal website at: