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Portraits in Color

The Worldwide Appeal of Lowrider Culture

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Historians trace lowrider culture back to the early 30’s and 40’s as an extension of pachuco culture.  If you’re unfamiliar with pachuco culture, check out Edward James Olmos in Zoot Suit.  Yes, he was in other movies beyond Stand and Deliver! Some historians trace its origins to the El Paso/Juarez region, while others say it originated in the barrios of East LA.  We’ll leave that debate to the Tejanos and the East Los crowd.  Post World War II, many ex-military men from the southwest migrated to Los Angeles to work in aircraft factories, bringing along their passion for customized rides.  By the 60’s, lowriders became identified with the Chicano movement, as these cars began to symbolize a proud cultural identity that still exists today. 

Photo: Jeffrey Hertz

These cars are an artistic expression of familia, culture and religion.  They glow with brilliant colors, religious symbols, and wired rims. You might see the sparks fly from their bodies scraping the pavement as they creep down the street “low and slow” or hear the squeaks of the hydraulics as they bounce from side-to-side.  

Lowrider exhibit Albuquerque International Sunport

Lowrider culture has had significant influence in the worlds of music, fashion, and art.  Back in the 70’s, you could hear War’s Chicano Rock anthem Lowrider pulsating from car speakers on downtown streets from Burque to LA.  The marriage between car culture and music re-emerged in the 90’s with videos featuring South Central LA rappers Eazy E and Dr. Dre.  Remember the G-thang video?  Lowrider influenced fashion even made its way into mainstream pop music.  Do you remember Gwen Stefani rocking the chola look in her early No Doubt days?  

Lowriders as an expression of mobile art can be found in prominent art galleries, in national museums like the Smithsonian, and adorning international avenues from Japan to Australia. Facebook groups highlighting Lowrider Culture have six-figure followings and towns, like Española, NM have branded themselves the Lowrider Capital of the World.   

I think it’s safe to say, the culture has officially moved from the underground to the mainstream.

Dr. Frank recently had the opportunity to catch up with two OGs from Duke’s Car ClubFrank Chavez and Albert Muniz to learn more about lowrider culture and its worldwide appeal.

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Portraits in Color

Achieving Equity in the Workplace

Only 1% of Fortune 500 companies have a Black CEO. Aside from the huge racial gaps in leadership positions, even getting a job for people of color can be a huge challenge. For example, studies have found that when Native Americans are similar to whites in terms of factors such as age, sex, education level, marital status, and state of residence, their odds of being employed are 31 percent lower than those of whites.

Dr. Frank recently had the opportunity to speak with Kara Bobroff, Founder of the Native American Community Academy and NACA Inspired Schools Network, Josue Olivares, Executive Director of the Rio Grande Community Development Corporation, and Ken Carson, Owner of Nexus Brewery to explore issues of equity in the workplace and how they approach building institutions with equity at the center. 

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Portraits in Color

#MaskUp: Are Masks Effective in Mitigating the Spread of COVID-19?

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Medical mask wearing has a long history that can be traced back as far as the 17th century. During the Flu Pandemic of 1918, cities around the world passed mandatory mask-wearing orders to help prevent spread and protect doctors and nurses from contagious patients. Historians suggest that Americans widely embraced mask wearing as an “emblem of public spiritedness and discipline.” Even our pop culture icons like Batman and the Lone Ranger were celebrated mask wearers…..OK, that’s a bit of a stretch, but you get the point.

Dr. Jennifer Phillips, UNM School of Family and Community Medicine

So, how did wearing a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic become so controversial? Ok, I think we know the reason for this too. So, maybe the better question is: what does the science tell us about wearing a mask? 

In this episode, Dr. Jennifer Phillips from the UNM School of Family and Community Medicine and Bridget Llanes from Bernalillo County Community Health Council join Dr. Frank to discuss the importance of wearing a mask, the types of masks that are most effective in preventing spread, how often you should clean your mask, and most importantly, what do scientists who study this have to say about wearing a mask to mitigate the spread of COVID-19?

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Decolonizing Wealth with Edgar Villanueva

It’s the inconvenient truth. Wealth in the United States has been accumulated through the ownership and exploitation of Black and Indigenous bodies and the outright theft of land. We are in the midst of a national reckoning with this past. A past that has celebrated oppressors by highlighting nobility, honor, and perseverance in statuesque form, while minimizing and even ignoring the unspeakable acts of violence committed at the hands of these “celebrated” individuals.

Edgar Villanueva, author, activist, philanthropist, and change agent examines this past and offers a path forward in his book Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance. In this episode, Dr. Frank and Edgar discuss the history of colonization and how it has impacted concentrated wealth in this country, the extension of colonization practices in philanthropy, Edgar’s launch of the Decolonize Wealth Project and Fund, and how we can use “money as medicine” to heal divides in communities of color.

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Breaking Down Walls with Dana Cortez

Disruption is the name of the game. When it comes to media, people of color represent a very small proportion of people in all facets of the industry from radio/TV personalities to people behind the camera. Dana Cortez, host of the nationally syndicated Dana Cortez Show is a trailblazer when it comes to disrupting the radio industry. She is one of the only Latina, syndicated radio hosts in a male dominated industry.

Born in Big Spring, Texas, Dana was destined for a career in radio. Her “Nana” would often say, “you’re going to be an attorney or a radio personality, because you have an answer for everything!” Dana would begin her journey in media with her cousin, forming a childhood duo that would deliver “Nursery Rhyme News,” where they would record themselves reading nursery rhymes. Little did she know that later in her career she would still keep it in the family by hosting a radio show with her husband and best friend D.J. Automatic.   

In this episode, Dr. Frank and Dana discuss their Latino/a roots, leadership and the responsibility to use media platforms for good, and Dana’s passion to keep moving the needle on women’s issues in America.

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The Fight for Economic Justice

According to the Urban Institute, the median wealth for a White family is $171,000. For a Black family, it’s $17,000. That’s a ten-fold difference in median wealth. As we know, home ownership is a key driver to building wealth. It’s part of the American dream. Recent data suggests that White families are almost 25% more likely to own a home than Black and Hispanic families.Economic Inequality is a really broad topic with a number historical factors, including colonization, slavery, redlining and tax policy. This episode focuses on two primary drivers of wealth: homeownership and entrepreneurship. 

Dr. Frank catches up with Carlos Contreras from HomewiseAlex Horton from International District Economic Development, and Queneesha Myers from Q’s Cakes and Sweets Boutique to talk discuss these important issues and how each of them is building a path towards economic justice. 

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I’m Fed Up! Black Lives Matter, Silent Protests, and the Work Ahead for Racial Justice

Some would say that the last two weeks have awakened the masses to the injustices Black Americans have been facing for centuries. The peaceful protests combined with the anger, rage, and frustration of the Black community is sparking a civil and human rights revolution unlike anything we have seen in recent decades.

While the Black Lives Matter movement has grown internationally, decisions on policing, prosecution, and sentencing happen at the local level. Communities have the power to shape the narrative when it comes to racial justice through local activism and intentional actionism.

Charles Ashley III, an Albuquerque-based entrepreneur and host of the podcast Ashy to Ashley, joins the show to talk about Black Lives Matter, the responsibility of community leaders to stand-up and demand change, silent protests that he and fellow business leader Michael Silva are organizing throughout Albuquerque, and the ongoing work ahead to ensure that the Black community is seen, heard, and most importantly, respected.

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Always in My Head: Our Family’s Story of Living with Borderline Personality Disorder

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, we are releasing the most deeply personal episode of Portraits in Color yet. This episode is a candid conversation between a father and daughter about how mental illness impacts an entire family. Analisse, daughter of Portraits in Color host Dr. Frank Mirabal opens up about her every day challenges living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

In her bravery, she decided that nothing was off limits. She openly discusses the deep scars from being bullied as a child, diagnoses and misdiagnoses, challenges with various forms of therapy and treatment, suicide attempts and the stigma associated with someone living with a mental health condition.

Personality disorders are much more prevalent than you might think. One in ten adults has a personality disorder that interferes with their everyday life. Ninety-percent of people diagnosed with Personality Disorders have had some form of childhood trauma. 

If you or a loved one is suffering from BPD or any other mental health condition, you are not alone. Please seek help by contacting a local mental/behavioral health provider. You can also find the treatment resources you need at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website. If you or a loved one is considering harming yourself/themselves, please contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Help is available! 

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The Many Faces of CloudFace

We live in an age where artists are becoming adept at using all of the tools at their disposal to express themselves. Cloudface is no different. In fact, Cloudface has also been able to integrate B-Boy, Hip Hop, and dance culture with his native roots to create an interesting amalgam of visual, sonic, and rhythmic art.

Coming from a family of artists and jewelers, Patrick Burnham aka Cloudface was delivered to us as an artist. To him, art is just as essential as air and water. It lives within him. In this episode, we discuss the struggles of artists during this unprecedented time of social distancing. We also talk about musical influences, live vs. studio art forms, and favorite art mediums for artists that like to explore their versatility. 

Be sure to check out Cloudface on Instagram at cloudface.xfrx and support his work by purchasing one of his many prints at https://cloud-face.com/.

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All Chola with Michelle Sena

All Chola kind of happened by accident. “I would have conversations with my friends about chola sayings that we thought were funny, says Michelle Sena, founder of the All Chola lifestyle brand. “I never thought it would actually turn into a business.”

All Chola embodies a strong Chicano/Chicana cultural aesthetic. From the low riders, the fashion, and the music, Michelle Sena introduces the long legacy of the culture, which is rooted in the Pachuco culture of the 40’s and 50’s, through her fashion brand.  

In this episode, we discuss the 150 different meanings behind the word “orale,” talk about the All Chola brand and it’s growing reach, share stories about “the hustle,” and talk about our beloved neighborhood, “The Brick.” 

This episode was produced in partnership with ABQ Artwalk and The Ruppe.