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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Breakfast Over Mexico

A continuation of the Women’s Center series Women Eating Breakfast was served up in the Wheatley Student Lounge last Tuesday, March 23.

Muffins, bagels and juices were neatly arranged on the table. The delicious aromas of sausage, bacon, hash browns and coffee filled the room, the last particularly inviting considering it was 9:30am and very cold outside.

Guest speaker Alyx Kellington, a photojournalist from Austin, Texas, started her talk by saying when she was in school she, like many students, advocated various causes by signing petitions, but felt that it just “wasn’t enough.” Her desire to do more directly led to her presence in Chiapas, Mexico during its uprising in 1994.

Kellington moved to the Dominican Republic in 1985, where she learned Spanish and how to live without electricity and running water, an experience she compared to “boot camp.”

After a stay in El Salvador, she moved to Chiapas, Mexico, which is probably the poorest state in the country. They, too, were without electricity and running water and received very little help from the government. The area is home to many indigenous peoples and a variety of languages, but because they didn’t speak Spanish, Kellington said the people were seen as illiterate and stupid, and the attitude was, “There was nothing to be done for them, so leave them alone.”

This poverty and maltreatment was the reason for the Chiapas uprising in the mid 1990’s, which Kellington documented through her photography. During the rebellion, Kellington spent time living and interacting with women of the region, learning what life in the third world can be like. One of the most shocking things she discovered was that women there are “typically pregnant 22 times” in their lives, though they do not give birth every time due to malnutrition. “You are a baby machine at the age of 13.”

By sharing these women’s histories, “It was like I was lending my voice to their stories as opposed to using my own,” said Kellington, who left home at age 16 after years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of her older brother. Kellington’s combination of her own experience with that of the poor women of Mexico made for a powerful presentation.

After setting out on her own, she felt the need to “justify her existence” by doing something dangerous, which turned out to be photographing combat in Chiapas. Having accomplished her goal, Kellington put her camera down 5 years ago, saying, “It was time to slow down and refocus.”