The fusion of percussion and vocals by Los Angeles band La Chamba produced an upbeat vibe throughout the ninth annual HOPE International Music Festival. Amid busy food stalls, students swayed their hips to the music or crouched on the pavement with rainbow-colored chalk in their hands.
Sarah Guinon was among 11 representatives from Colleges Nine and Ten who collaborated to host the music festival. About 200 people attended the event to show solidarity against obstetric violence — mistreatment during childbirth — toward Mayan women in the Yucatán Peninsula.
“There is a lot of interaction in HOPE this year, like with chalk art and other interactive pieces,” Guinon said.
The HOPE International Music Festival at UC Santa Cruz was created nine years ago by students who wanted to bring music to a spring event while spreading awareness about an international social justice issue and raising funds to benefit an organization. This year, HOPE raised $512 from donations and food purchases.
The concert ties in Colleges Nine and Ten’s themes of international and global perspectives and social justice and community. Last year, the concert’s proceeds supported people affected by the typhoon in the Philippines, while this year, Marina Gonzalez Flores — the festival’s co-leader — proposed a theme geared toward women’s reproductive rights in the Yucatán Peninsula.
“Mayan women have no control over their bodies while giving birth. They are powerless over their reproductive rights,” Gonzalez Flores said. “What’s worse is that now it’s being naturalized and women are complacent over the norm.”
The money raised from the event will be sent to a Mexican non-government organization (NGO) called Semillas, which provides funds to women activists all around Mexico.
“These women also fight for LGBTQ rights to labor rights to reproductive rights,” Gonzalez Flores said. “Some women are creating workshops, some women are creating marches. Anything helps, like money to buy office supplies and posters.”
Local singer-songwriter and social justice activist Gina René opened the event and was followed by La Chamba, which took over for the rest of the afternoon. The organizers set up several activities as a fun way to educate guests, like a chalk sketch of flowers adorning the female reproductive system and hand-shaped pieces of paper to write and post messages of solidarity on a painted image of Ixchel, the goddess of midwifery.
“I was very captivated with the posters of the women leaders of Semillas and I could hear the band practicing, which brought good music to the event,” said UCSC student Mireya Mateo. “From what I could see, everyone was having a good time and was interested in learning about the maternal health of Mayan women.”
Mateo accompanied Gonzalez Flores last summer in interviewing Mayan women leaders in the Yucatán and Campeche regions of Mexico.
“I was very impressed with the work the HOPE committee did for the festival,” Mateo said. “Knowing the women leaders of Semillas and that the HOPE concert funds would go to them made it feel very personal to me.”