If you read about Portland in Color in Street Roots earlier this fall, you can thank our guest today for writing the feature. Her work spans music, culture, and art, with intersectional activism and community at the the heart of her pieces.
Not only does Emilly's work highlight people and issues of marginalized communities, it asks the larger community to act. It's natural to feel helpless and overwhelmed by the state of society and the greater world, but reading her pieces are grounding because they emphasize how can change begin with our own actions, right in our local communities. If you aren't familiar already, her From Slacktivism to Activism column is an incredible resource for locals to educate themselves on current events and get involved. It's a reminder that we can look to ourselves and our communities to move forward.
Name: Emilly Prado
Background: Chicana by way of California and Michoacán, Mexico
Medium of choice: Writing but also photography, zine making, & dabbling in digital illustration
Astrological signs: cancer sun, gemini rising, sag moon
Karaoke jam: “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” by Tammy Wynette, “The Jump Off” by Lil Kim, and “Como La Flor” by Selena
Tell us about one of your favorite Portland memories: Because I can’t pick just one, I’ll share two.
Even though I’ve lived in Portland for eight years, two standout memories happened this past year. In early March, I was super lucky to attend a beautifully intimate Helado Negro show at the Doug Fir. I actually wrote a live review for the Portland Mercury detailing just how blown away I was, but the entire evening was magic. My friend Daniela Karina set the mood with a killer DJ set and shortly after, my cousin and incredibly talented musician, Luz Elena Mendoza of Y La Bamba, played a set accompanied by nearly all femme musicians. Anis Mojgani, an award-winning slam poet, performed before Helado Negro went on and I cried. I had never experienced a lineup that included a poet, but more shows should! Finally, Helado Negro went on. It was my first time seeing him live and his music came alive for me. Soft glowing bulbs lit up every time he sang into the mic and the tinsel mammals added another shimmery element of sound. My favorite moment came when he played “Young, Latin, and Proud” and the entire front row (nearly all Latinx) linked arms and we gently swayed and sang along.
And another favorite memory occurred in October after I partnered with NXT LVL to throw a benefit for Puerto Rico and Mexico relief called #LaFuerzaPDX. So many wonderful musicians, artists, and community members came together to collectively raise over $2300!
Please share a time it was difficult living in Portland: 2012 was an incredibly tough year for me. I was feeling really isolated and lost after several major life changes occurred within weeks of each other. In a nut shell, I expected my life to be very different from where I was at and wasn’t prepared for the changes that had come. I didn’t have as strong of a network of friends as I do now and my mental health had tanked. I almost left Portland but decided to stay after I had my first tarot reading and she totally accurately warned I was running away from my problems but had to work on myself. It was true! Instead of leaving, I took a long solo trip, and five years later, I’m really happy to have made that choice.
How do you stay inspired in Portland? There is so much in this city to be inspired by. Connecting with the amazingly powerful and growing POC communities in Portland keeps me going. When dealing with the stress and alienation that can come with being Brown and living here, I hibernate or escape by traveling when I can. Spending extended periods of time alone can help reinvigorate inspiration, especially when it comes to my own (not for journalism) writing. And while I dig getting close to all the beautiful nature around Portland when decompressing, I prefer my outdoor adventures to be comprised of yurt glamping and hot springs.
How can Portland support you? People can support me and my work by donating to my meals-out-while-working-fund (aka venmo @emillyprado or cashapp $emillyprado), buying my zines, and attending and/or donating to the events/fundraisers I share whether through my From Slacktivism to Activism column or through social media.
To stay up to date on Emilly's writing and events, follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. See more of her work on her website www.emillyprado.com.
Portland in Color is a self-funded project. If you enjoyed this feature, please consider donating to keep the series going.