There is a most visible shift happening on the internet. We guess we could pinpoint it to the U.S. 2016 presidential election. We see a massive uproar in advocacy for human rights, mental health, climate change, and more topics that seemed to be all over our news feed and social platforms. Consumers turned their anger into action, and with that, we have seen more initiative in communities before. Which may have re-introduced us to the term “Social Justice Warrior.”
With all of the chaos happening, we see social justice warriors bringing light to the issues and sharing the truth on topics exploited in the media. One problem that has been waring within the nation is the influx of ICE raids and the mistreatment of Black and Brown immigrants within the country. Tania Teyacapan is a self-proclaimed social justice warrior who uses her pinup modeling career to be informative of the misfire treatment within Latinx & Black communities. Her work doesn’t stop there; her continuous community involvement and educational initiatives create a conversation around her Indigenous roots, motherhood, not selling her culture. We had the opportunity to speak with this leader on her work and her overall perspective.
TQS: You discuss, decolonizing, and reaching divinity with each other, what does this mean to you?
Tania Teyacapan: To decolonize means to rediscover our ancestral practices. From our language to our customs, beauty standards, and so on. Colonization was meant to destroy indigenous communities, unbalance the spirit of those who were victims of the transatlantic slave trade as well as various other marginalized communities of the present day. Often we see how marginalized communities continue to face forms of unequal treatment and access to resources, but we do not ask why such is occurring. Although the Elite may find it easy to blame those who find themselves with socioeconomic hardships, the fact of the matter is many obstacles that people of color face is due to colonialism, which began in the year 1492 when Columbus stepped foot in what is known today as the Bahamas. Once we acknowledge the systemic forms of social disruption, could we begin to heal. Once folks of color begin to rediscover their sacredness, they will be able to gather the pieces that were robbed. By practicing our original ways, shaping our ideologies, and accepting our roots, we will call in the energies that will take us back home, which in turn will teach us the beauty of self-love.
TQS: As an advocate for living in your culture and being apart of it, what are some traditions you are passing down to your family?
Tania Teyacapan: My family is of Lipan Apache and Chichimecatl Guachichil decent. Both are very interconnected to our great mother. Due to living in the present time, I am tempted with present-day things such as social media, specific clothing brands, etc. However, I try my best to incorporate our old ways with grounding myself (spending time with our great mother) by walking barefoot on the soil of the current reservation I live on or walking on the beach, sitting on a rock, and so on. I am trying to learn both of our original languages, reclaiming our form of traditional dressing, learning our songs while pushing my son to bird sing with our Kumeyaay relatives, and having my daughter partake in ceremony with our Mexica “Mesheeka” brothers and sisters. I believe it is important to teach my children that they are native people and that cultural exchanges assist in creating a better understanding of our coexistence with other tribes and communities when we are welcomed to.
TQS: Chicana is a word we see being thrown around a lot in fashion and influenced by outsiders. What would you say defines an authentic Chicana?
Tania Teyacapan: Chicana is a very complex term since it can be interpreted in many ways. For myself, I use it more as an identifier for being someone who has indigenous decent south of the European man-made border. For many, it has become a way to say, “I am indigenous to this land,” but due to displacement, they do not have the privilege and/or access to say what tribal affiliation pertains to them. So in a way, it has become an encompassing label for those who want to return back to their roots but need a place to start all while rejecting European influenced labels such as Hispanic and/or Latina/x. I identify myself as an ally to those who identify as Chicana but in reference to being “Mexican-American.” I myself have been socialized to deny such national labels because I am an indigenous womxn, and being of Apache and Chichimecatl are the identifiers I take great pride in.
TQS: As a pin-up model who also uses her platform to advocate for justice, have you ever felt the need to change or tone down your character prior to book engagements?
Tania Teyacapan: Definitely! At one point, I was strictly “pinup,” and I felt that I wanted to be the best one however I never got as many gigs as Mosh or any other white model. So I began to realize the Pinup scene was not as welcoming to Indigenous women as it was to white women. White women have been seen as the “true” representation of the current “nation” that is occupying native land. That’s when I transitioned into incorporating my culture into my work in hopes that I would continue to get gigs, and luckily my community has ensured that I continue to create visuals for our folks by providing me with jobs.
TQS:With your organizations and community work, lastly, what are the next steps in your life for you as someone for decolonization and against ICE. How will you keep advocating and educating?
Tania Teyacapan: I currently have the honor to work with my Native relatives in trying to better the life on reservations. I have made connections with folks who want to better the lives of all indigenous people. What happened to many indigenous children 500 years ago to present is seen when Central American native children are ripped away from their parents and thrown in cages. I am trying to create spaces where our children can learn about their people in all forms and create a safe space where they can express themselves. To create more opportunities for advancement and have indigenous folks reclaim spaces in all institutions today. I hope to see myself furthering my education to become a professor and mentor to help educate our youth and community.
Tania’s continuous work in the community and advocacy doesn’t just stop there. The social justice warrior most recently is creating a clothing line that will allow proceeds to go towards non-profits and organizations assisting with social change.