Martha Alguera

Music Event Producer, Executive Assistant, Gun Prevention Activist

February 2, 2017


How old are you?

I’m 39.

And where are you from originally?

I was born in Nicaragua but came back to New Orleans when I was three weeks old.

Why are you still in New Orleans?

Because I love it. It’s home. I can’t live anywhere else. There’s just no place like New Orleans especially if you’re a music lover. You can’t get that feeling anywhere else. There’s such a huge community here. I grew up in this neighborhood with parades lining up on my street. The first time I saw Mardi Gras Indians I freaked out. I feel like I lived here in a past life. That’s how strong I feel about it.

And how would you describe the work that you’re doing within the music community here?

It’s mostly music event production as of late. I worked that benefit in September for the Baton Rouge flood victims and then in October I worked festival production for a Latin Festival. I’m working backstage at Jazz Fest in the Cultural Pavilion because the country they’re featuring this year is Cuba and they were looking for bilingual people. Musicians will also hire me to help produce their shows or be the back stage production manager.

Do you remember being told or taught anything when you were growing up about the behavioral expectations of being a girl?

Definitely, especially growing up Latina. It’s little things like serving the man, bringing food to the table, making sure the man was always taken care of first kind. But I also had a really kickass, strong mom. I’ll never forget this. She didn’t have a job at the time but when she found out her second husband was cheating on her she packed all his shit in trash bags and changed the locks on the door in one day. I remember thinking, “You don’t have a job!” But she did it and she went out and got a job the next week. She led by example.

Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?

Sexism to me is equivalent to white privilege because a lot of people don’t even know that they’re exhibiting sexist attitudes. And sometimes women don’t even know when they’re experiencing sexism.

How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?

Angry. As a human, it makes you feel devalued. Why would you treat anyone different because of their gender? But it’s so embedded in the culture and society that it’s hard to distinguish if something is actually sexist. It’s exploitation. “You’re so exotic.” No I’m not! I get that from guys all the time and it’s sexism even though they think they’re complimenting you.

Do you always notice when individuals are acting in a sexist way?

Not always but I am very aware of it now more than ever. I have two daughters and being independent and being strong for them is huge for me. I have a housemate and she’s got two little kids. We have a single mom household here and we support each other. So my whole life is supported by women. I’ve always had a strong group of female friendships. I’ve even had a good circle of women around me in my career. I like working with women because there’s a feeling of sisterhood.

How would you describe the difference between blatant and subtle sexism and do you react to both?

It takes me a minute to process it when it’s not blatant. You go home and think, did that really just happen? And you always come up with the best comebacks after the fact!

Can you recall any specific instances of experiencing sexist behavior against you?

Years ago, I used to work at city hall. I was in my mid-twenties and was the only girl there my age. There was a guy who had worked there for a few years and he had a crush on me. At first it was super innocent. He would just with me and mess with me. Then one time I was in the kitchen getting ready to leave and he asked me if I was staying for lunch. I told him, “No I have a lunch date, I’m going to go out,” and he grabbed me and he pushed me against the wall and asked who I was going out with. I told him to let me go because I couldn’t move. And he wouldn’t let me go and I told him that if he didn’t let me go, I was going to start screaming. I reported him and I had to go to a judge to handle all the reports of sexual misconduct. He got written up and had to see a counselor but  ended up quitting after that because he was hot shit around there and it felt really weird. I haven’t thought about that in a while.

Are there any particular stereotypes of men or of women that drive insane?

The only thing I don’t care for is women that don’t support other women. I was at the Women’s March and there were all these women holding signs that said “Why don’t you go cook for your man?” like it wasn’t even important. Of course it’s important. What is your problem that you don’t see that? Are you blinded by sexism and anti-feminism that you can’t see why people are doing this? It’s infuriating to have to explain it because you’re a woman, you should know.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve raised two girls on my own and I’ve always been in that single mom role and trying to figure it out and make it work. I just really want to be a role model to my girls and to other younger girls. You can do it. You can do whatever you want and whatever you put your heart into. It might take you longer than expected but I really do believe in the sisterhood and the strong network of girlfriends.