Nikki Lopez: FLORES
1) WHO ARE YOU? TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF, HEY, EVEN BRAG A LITTLE.
My name is Nikki Lopez and I’m a second year History/Mexican-American Studies student at the University of Texas at Austin. I was born and raised here in Austin, Texas. Currently, I am an intern for the Gender and Sexuality Center on campus and founding member/President of FLORES (Feminist Latinx Organization Empowering Society). I love dogs, sleeping and food.
2) TELL US ABOUT THE WORK YOU ARE DOING AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT.
I was in AFROTC for my first year of college, and even though I really enjoyed it, I didn’t feel like I belonged there. So many things were happening in the world and I wanted to do something about it instead of following orders from other people. After searching through HornsLink (UT’s directory for campus organizations), I noticed there wasn’t a group on campus that geared towards Latinx feminism. So earlier in the fall semester of 2016, I decided to quit ROTC and start my own organization.
FLORES is about advocating for Latinx and women’s rights while embracing our Latinx heritage. I feel like this group is important now because of the threatening and intimidating statements that the Trump administration has been making. Because of this risen tension, I wanted there to be a space on campus for students to come together and finds ways to help the Austin community fight for social justice issues, as well as to hold discussions about issues happening in Latin America.
Right now, we are selling buttons for $1 and all the proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. Previously, the donation were sent to the Legal Defense team at Standing Rock. Some of our future events include holding discussions about Afro-Latinx Identities, a workshop about getting involved in Austin (specifically fighting gentrification) and a “Mala Mala” screening night. We also plan to have collaborations with other orgs on campus in order to network and help each other build our groups. We also have random giveaways throughout the semester where we sell raffle tickets for a given amount in order to get extra funding. Usually the baskets have a theme, but they mostly contain gifts that are from Latinx culture.
3) WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME CHALLENGES IN PURSUING THIS WORK?
Before I started the group, I knew what I wanted to do, but I was really disorganized and kept changing my mind about the vision of FLORES. I really had no clue on what or how to run an organization. One thing I did know is that I knew a lot of people who were interested in the group and wanted to help me. My friends have been a blessing because of how much they have supported me. Our organization’s officers have helped kept everything in line and I’m thankful to have them help me run this group. They’ve helped me plan events and coordinate meetings. Compared to last semester up until today, FLORES has really blossomed into something great.
4) WHERE AND HOW CAN WE SUPPORT YOU IN YOUR QUEST?
One big way you can support FLORES is spreading the word about the group and coming out to our events! You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Make sure to give us a “like” whenever you see something from us! We are still a newly established group, so anything helps.
5) WHO INSPIRES YOU?
Selena Quintinilla-Perez would have to be one of my biggest inspirations. Selena has always inspired me to always follow my dreams, but to never forget my roots. Representation really does matter and luckily my parents knew that. Having a role model who I identify with on many levels really shaped my outlook on life. She achieved so much and had so much more going for her. I’m so happy people cherish her and make sure her legacy never disappears. Our house was filled with her music and every time I watch Selena I still cry like a little baby.