More than just a hashtag.
Meet Mercedes, otherwise known as #mpfrias, a passionate and fearless Latina poet who shifts between love stories and politics. She’s stemmed with roots from the Dominican Republic. As a writer, student and educator, MP speaks about current issues that are both controversial and relatable. Her work is directed towards the young, inner-city demographic (18-32) and her passionate and relentless work has won the support of thousands of loyal readers.
She’s surely on a mission to constantly uplift women, and that’s why we love her. For the past four years, MP has been hosting an event entitled “Scarlet: A Celebration of Female Expression” in the Bronx, NY. BET decided to visit her yearly event this year and we were overjoyed to find a sea of women of color showing support and love to one another. All the good vibes!
The night was focused on celebrating the creativity, strength and intelligence of women. Guests enjoyed dinner and drinks while participating in a panel and Q&A featuring spoken word artists such as Elizabeth Acevedo and Jasmine Mans, comedian Sasha Merci, model Jenny Gonzalez, artist Zahira Kelly and writer #mpfrias. Guests also enjoyed music, live art and performances from very talented women in NYC.
We interviewed MP about her inspiration for the event and what #BlackGirlMagic means to her and this is what she had to say:
Q: What sparked the idea for you to create The Scarlet Event?
A: I really wanted to produce an event where creatives from New York can network and showcase their talent. The Scarlet Event began as an interactive art show where young adults were able to meet like-minded people. The show was not meant to be all women — but after I started recruiting I noticed that mostly men were applying. After dozens of male-dominated applications, I put out a flyer requesting fashion designers, believing that this would change the dynamic a bit. Out of the 40 emails I received, three of them were from women. It was jaw dropping. I realized that it’s not that there aren’t enough women in the field, it’s just that for some reason, they weren’t applying. At that moment, I came up with “Scarlet: A Celebration of Female Expression,” and as difficult as it would be, decided to limit the performers and artists to women only. It was time for them to step out and shine.
Q: We know you love girl power. What does being a feminist mean to you?
A: Feminism has shaped my life immensely in the past few years. It has taught me to rethink all the ideologies I once believed to be true. I began checking my family members on sexist and racist comments they made and even checking myself on my own internalized misogyny — that I had no idea I possessed. I have spent the last few years un-learning; feminism has made me question everything. Realizing that I was a feminist has definitely changed my life for the better and teaching others is probably the most important aspect of that.
Q: How does spoken word, art and dancing empower women?
A: There are so many different ways to express yourself, which is why spaces like The Scarlet Event are so important. What empowers one woman might not empower the next — and we have to keep that in mind when considering something as subjective as art. Spoken word, dancing and visual art are ways to channel your experiences and connect with other people who may understand or feel the same way you do.
Q: How did you go about choosing the talent for your show?
A: Social media. About four months before the event I begin posting flyers asking female artists of all kinds to contact me. I also spend some time recruiting and going through hashtags on Instagram and Twitter. If I find anyone I’d like to showcase I reach out to them via email or DM. This gives us a really diverse group to choose from. “Scarlet: A Celebration of Female Expression” has exhibited illustrators, painters, photographers, MMA Jiu Jitsu practitioners, belly dancers, comedians, spoken word artists, etc.
Q: What was your favorite part of this year’s event and what is your vision for this project in the coming years?
A: My favorite part has to be the spoken word. Every year they blow my mind. This past event I had the honor of experiencing Elizabeth Acevedo, Jasmine Mans and Erica Marta’s spoken word pieces. As a writer, I appreciate wordplay so much and I believe these women have definitely mastered the skill. I see The Scarlet Event going nationwide. Eventually, I would love to take it to other places like Miami, Chicago, Texas and Los Angeles. I think that this event will give a platform to women.
Q: What woman do you look up to and why?
A: Serena Williams. I wrote her a letter when I was in 5th grade, and since then, my appreciation for her has not changed. She has had to fight for her spot as the number-one athlete in the world and defend her title every single day. She has had to work three times as hard to gain respect because she is a Black woman. The world has attempted to compare her to men, other women and other athletes and through it all she stays focused.
Q: What does Black Girl Magic mean to you?
A: Black Girl Magic is an essential part of society today. Young Black girls need to know how absolutely irreplaceable they are: their energy, talents and intelligence need to be celebrated daily. Being a woman means having a connection with other women. There is nothing more beautiful than having an understanding sister, best friend, or team to share your ups and downs with. Having a solid support system of the same sex is vital for your growth.
You can find more information about The Scarlet Event on www.TheScarletEvent.com. Thanks, MP, for being a constant reminder of how much Black girls really do rock! Don’t forget to catch Black Girls Rock’ hosted by Taraji P. Henson on Sunday, Aug 20 at 8P/7C only on BET!