by Chanel Ward
Each month, The Weekly Issue/El Semanario introduces a member of “Our Community, Our Partners” program, highlighting their valued efforts in elevating our communities.
Denver Native, self-identified Chicano and spiritual activist, Danny Stange, has worked with the Sisters of Color United for Education (SOCUE) for 11 years, currently serving as both the Mobilizing Director since 2014 and as the Grant Manager since 2012. Professor Belinda García founded SOCUE in 1989 as a grassroots organization that has evolved to include men, LGBTQ, youth and elders over the past 29 years.
The mission of Sisters of Color is to cultivate Promotor@s de Salud, to defend the health of the community. And really it’s about our ability to affect long-lasting holistic health, our value is that all Indigenous communities have the inherited right to self-determination.
“My Native spirituality is central to my entire purpose in life,” stated Stange. He is an active member and danzante with Huitzilopochtli, since 1993, a role that has remained constant in his life as well as being a father to his seven children.
Father, son, husband and Promotora, Stang’s positive outlook on life and spiritual connection to his Indigenous roots has made him an incredibly affective community leader who spreads laughter and love. The following is an interview with Stange.
El Semanario: First and foremost, what is a Promotora?
Stange: So, Promotoras – promoter is the word – but it really stems from the people that are from the community, within the community and are more like peers. More than somebody who is educated outside and then comes into an area to work, they’re people from the area that they live in; and so Belinda García was our founder and where she learned about Promotoras was in Central América, Guatemala, Nicaragua and México, where communities have no access to government services because of their Indigenous heritage. So, the Promotoras were the people that were helping take care of the sick and the elderly; they were the ones that took care of the community. In Brazil their Promotora model is national and it’s a very important piece of their universal healthcare system and as a result, the Promotoras in Brazil, they advise the government on where to spend the resources for health.
What is Sisters of Color United for Education’s (SOCUE) goal and mission?
The mission of Sisters of Color is to cultivate Promotor@s de Salud, to defend the health of the community. And really it’s about our ability to affect long-lasting holistic health, our value is that all Indigenous communities have the inherited right to self-determination. We see health as mind, body, spirit, emotions; not just separation of physical, medical and behavioral the way the system does it. And we feel proud to have inspired some change in the system by bringing more Promotoras de salud. When SOCUE started in 1989, there were no Promotoras, in Denver at least, they were starting in some of the Chicano communities in Texas and LA, but we are Colorado’s oldest Promotora program.
Congratulations on being appointed the Treasurer of the Sheridan School Board, District A. Can you please share with me what your responsibilities are?
As a Board Treasurer, my responsibility is the fiduciary responsibilities of the school, going over the audits and making sure the board as a unit, together, not just me individually but the board together, we hire and monitor the work of the superintendent. The Superintendent is the only employee that we have and that superintendent – who we just recently hired whose name, is Pat Santos and he is, I would say, the first Latino superintendent of Sheridan schools and he is in charge of all five schools, and all of their employees – and we meet regularly with him. The main goals to change in the school district are the cultural relevancy of the education, the increasing pride of the students to feel welcomed and to feel accepted and to see more Latino educators hired into teaching positions as well as changing some of the curriculum to include more environmental awareness and changing cultural history. The city itself needs to see some big changes, as far as the access of Latinos being able to make some decisions.
Lastly, is there anything you’d like to add?
My dad used to say, “they [men] sit around the campfire, and all the guys would talk about what to do, then when they made a decision they’d turn around and if the women said okay – sometimes they say, nope – than you got to go back to work.” Keep talking about it, because the women have more sense of empathy and are righteous and want justice. They consider the well-being of the children, they consider the well-being of all the people and not just of certain individuals, so they have a more inclusive attitude and their sense of judgment is a lot more accepting of what needs to be right for the people. I pray that my brothers, other machismos out there, will learn to self-reflect and step up and support their women. Let women have a better role! They say God made the man first, yeah, out of a woman, on Mother Earth, where the dust comes from; the Mother Earth.
For more info on Sisters of Color United for Education (SOCUE): https://healdenver.org, HEALdenver@gmail.com or call 303-446-8800. 938 W. 8th Ave, Denver CO 80204. Hours: Monday/Tuesday 11am-6pm, Wednesday 12-6, Thursday 1pm-8pm, and Friday 1pm-8pm.
Chanel Ward is an Independent Reporter for The Weekly Issue/El Semanario.
To Join Our Community, Our Partners: HTTP://OURCOMMUNITYOURPARTNERS.COM/