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Houston Breakthrough, October 1976
Page 7
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Houston Breakthrough, October 1976 - Page 7. October 1976. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. May 5, 2015. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/3590/show/3576.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(October 1976). Houston Breakthrough, October 1976 - Page 7. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/3590/show/3576

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, October 1976 - Page 7, October 1976, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed May 5, 2015, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/3590/show/3576.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, October 1976
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date October 1976
Description Vol. 1 No. 8
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • Periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 20 page periodical
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 7
File Name femin_201109_521g.jpg
Transcript Y branch is blossoming By Rosalind Soliz Several years ago the gym at the M.D. Anderson-Magnolia Park "Y" in Houston's East End was used exclusively for boys' athletic activities. That would be expected if the center were a YMCA, but it is not. The center at 7305 Navigation officially operates as a YWCA. The emphasis on boys' programs at a facility designed to benefit the community's women is the result of a quirk in the Y's history. The center's director, Angela Serna, recounts: "About 40 years ago the community asked the YMCA to build a center to provide boys' athletic activities to keep the boys off the streets. The YMCA declined but the YWCA accepted," Serna says. To some extent, the center has kept the boys off the streets. "In fact, it's been their hang-out." An after dark inspection finds few girls at the center. "They go home early to do their homework," Serna says. But reported crowds of boys in and around the building, located in a high crime area, make evening visits to the center less than inviting for a young woman. And where did that leave the girls of the predominantly Mexican-American community? "They had dances and bazaars," says Serna. Restricting the woman's activities to domestic work was a cultural norm in the community. "Mexican women have worked beside their husbands in the fields and fought beside them in the Mexican Revolution," Serna notes. But it is part of the culture to identify the male with physical strength and the female with the emotional and psychological strength that binds the family, Serna adds. Thus, the emphasis on physical activities for the community's males. But things are changing "The Magnolia branch has been going through a transition that started as early as 1971," Serna says. That transition was pushed by women like KTRK- TV newsreporter Elma Barrera, then a Magnolia YWCA employee. Women among the staff and membership were oriented toward having athletic activities "They realized they could participate in basketball, volleyball and other sports and began demanding sports programs." The Magnolia YWCA is trying to meet the demands of its women. "The girls now use the gym 50% of the time," Serna says proudly. But this was allowed with reluctance from the boys and the community'' "This is what I'm up a- gainst," says Serna when talking about the community's attitude towards its girls. She led the way to a trophy case. Serna pointed to an inexpensive- looking trophy about a foot tall. "That is the (community's) annual girl-of-the-year award," she said. "And that," she said, pointing to an impressive trophy about three-feet tall, "is the boy-of-the-year award/' Serna knows she cannot immediately change the community's attitude. At this point she just wants to see more significance and encouragement given to girls' achievements. "I want to be sure girls get the opportunity to do things other than housework." Sports activities teach girls how to be more independent, according to Serna. That allows persons to break away from submissive, passive roles regardless of sex, she adds. That break is important. Although Serna's interest in girls' activities reflect her feminist ideals ("I never made a conscious change to become feminist--! always was one"), she also strongly believes in the expression of human rights. Human rights is one reason Serna wants to push additional girls' activities as well as programs for the rest of the membership. Serna, who has been with the branch for a year, adds she is optimistic but realistic about what she can do for the center, which services a low-income Mexican-American community, where wage earners are factory or domestic workers. language, GED instruction and preparatory classes for the citizenship test. These courses are practical and offer pride in self- development. Surprisingly, that is what the community's women get out of the very popular cake decorating class. The participants are mostly women whose work centers around the homes. It gives the women a feeling of pride and achievement when thev can be creative, produce a professional-looking cake and bring home a little money when they sell the cakes, Serna says. The success of the class shows a need for more such courses for the Mexican-American women in Houston's East End. Serna is the first Mexican- American woman executive branch director in Houston. Actually, being a first or in a unique position is not a rare experience for Serna. She has several firsts and achievements behind her. Serna has degrees in Education and Spanish from the University of Texas and Pan American University and is now working on her master's degree. In more affluent areas the Y s draw operating capital from membership dues and fees charged for special activities. Accessibility is no problem for members in these areas where the two-car family is the rule. However, the Magnolia branch has the smallest membership, according to Serna, and produces the least income of the Houston Ys. Despite some limitations the Magnolia YWCA does offer the usual gamut of Y activities: tap dancing, ballet, swimming, gymnastics and other classes. Serna's greatest concern is in expanding programs that serve needs unique to the Spanish- speaking community, or as she puts it, "the ones needed for survival." For the youngsters that means bi-lingual, bi-cultural preschool classes. Serna notes today it is essential that Mexican-Americans and other minorities learn to live within the "dominant" culture yet retain pride in their heritage. Social problems often result when this is not done. Children who do not learn conversational English have language problems and subsequent employment difficulties. On the other hand, children who master the language and are successful in the Anglo-American world, sometimes turn their backs on their heritage. Survival courses • for the community's adults, continues Angela Serna, mean additional classes in English as a second i "The girls now use the gym 50% of the time [at the Magnolia YWCA]. . .But this was allowed with reluctance from the boys and the community." Before she reached her teens, Serna's parents decided to settle in Archbold, Ohio to provide a home and other comforts for Serna and her younger brother and sister. In Archbold, the Sernas were something of an oddity. Extremely few Mexican-Americans permanently settled in the area. They came and went according to the crops, Serna says. Under those conditions Serna grew up in an undemanding cultural environment. There was no visible Mexican-American community pressuring her to conform to traditional standards. And not being an Anglo- American she was not expected to conform to that community's ways, either. If being Mexican-American was an oddity, being Mexican- American, educated and a female is another unusual combination. She encourages women to seek careers but adds, "it's a lonely world for Mexican- American women who are educated." She says career- oriented Mexican-American women sometimes have to make sacrifices to get ahead. At times, these women feel social pressures, questioning decisions to forgo marriage and a family for a career. "I chose to work in Houston because I wanted to pick an area where I could work with blacks, whites and browns; adults, preschoolers and young people." ANGELA SERNA Imaginative gifts, toys, crafts from around the world! Unicef greeting cards '^m\\m Center 2813 Westheimer ythere your gift gives tuke BANK AMERICARD MASTERCHARGE MON-SAT Housing Discri mination Is Illegal