Born and raised in north Los Angeles, Arlene Mejorado is a photographer, multi-media artist, and researcher currently working out of San Antonio, Texas. Growing up as a millennial with a transnational experience, she was heavily influenced by her participation in punk rock, banda, and hip hop social & cultural spaces. At the age of 21, she discovered her love of photography while documenting a trip to Chiapas, Mexico. She received a degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and is currently pursuing new academic and creative endeavors. Her research interests are diasporic communities in the U.S., racial experiences in society, gender and agender identities, and hybrid cultural & musical formations. In 2013, Arlene co-founded Mujeres en Medio, a women-of-color digital platform for storytelling, media production, and activism.
Diasporic Nicaragua is a tribute to the beautiful and generous people I met in Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast in the summer of 2013 during my participation in the Afro Diaspora Research Program abroad with the University of Texas at Austin. These 5 photographs were selected from the larger series published on my website. I grew up in a multi-cultural Mexican-Nicaraguan household in Los Angeles. My brothers are Nicaraguan and my Sister is Guatemalan but just like in many “Mestizo” households, African ancestry was always suppressed in the family’s historical narration. When I published my series Diasporic Nicaragua, my Stepfather (Born in Leon, Nicaragua) asked “Are you in Jamaica?” The unfortunate ignorance to the Black Atlantic of Central America is alarming. My time in Bluefields helped me realized my position within white privilege as a Chicana in a Latin American country. This is an experience and conversation that has been more easily shared with my Black friends than with my Latina/Chicana friends but gradually I see more people humbling themselves and engaging which is exciting yet overdue. I want my photographs to spark conversations about racial justice and I want my work to challenge anti-blackness in the Latino community. I would like to thank UT Austin professors Dr. Juliet Hooker and Dr. Ted Gordon for welcoming me into their homes in Bluefields and for facilitating an amazing summer program around racial justice.