Monday, October 5, 2009

Latinas using social networking sites to share experiences

Rebecca Aguilar, a former television reporter, grew increasingly frustrated as she sat in her Dallas kitchen last summer watching the confirmation hearings for the first Latina Supreme Court justice.
Aguilar watched senator after senator grill Judge Sonia Sotomayor about her 2001 remark that she hoped "a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male."

Since when, Aguilar thought, is being a "wise Latina" a bad thing? She decided to start Wise Latinas Linked, a social networking group on Facebook, to portray "wise Latinas" as role models.

In two months, the group has grown to nearly 1,700 members. It has become an online plaza where Latinas nationwide, and a few from Canada and Mexico, gather to network, share experiences, trade job information, plug community events and professional efforts, and seek advice on everything from getting a divorce to obtaining a mortgage.

"I thought of it as a place where women who feel that they do not have a voice can find their voice," says Aguilar, 51, a TV journalist for 28 years who is now a freelance reporter and video producer.

Latino activists and scholars say the site can help fill a void for Hispanic women who feel disenfranchised by language, education and economic barriers. It is one of a handful of sites for Latinas to network.

"We need more," says Veronica Rivera, legislative staff attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund. "The reason this particular site is so active is that there is a lack of networking going on among Latinas."

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