“Yo bitch, you look rape-a-licious,” one anonymous commenter wrote. Another chimed in, “You should just be happy that someone found you attractive enough to master bate to. Your so ungrateful.”
Her vlog has over 7,300 subscribers and that video currently has over 27,000 views. “Oh my God!” Lazo, 25,
remembers thinking when she saw the numbers back in 2013. Her enthusiasm got
checked when she started to read the comments. “I quickly realized this video
went viral for all the wrong reasons.” The video has over 1,500 comments and many of
them are stomach turning. Some men, it seems, did not like the subject matter at hand.
But Kat Lazo, an opinionated Latina
feminist vlogger intent on shaking up the status quo, is not afraid to ruffle
feathers. She's been making YouTube videos
since she was an undergrad at the
Fashion Institute of Technology. When she
shared her story of a man masturbating on the train as he stared at her, and then being ignored by the police, she was making the point that street
harassment can and does escalate. “It makes a
simple task like walking down your block ... very tedious and
very nerve wracking,” she said in her video.
Lazo works as a video production specialist at race forward, which produces the progressive digital daily COLORLINES. Lazo also works with Uplift to produce videos about sexual assault. But it was with Bustle that she made her Latino-vs-Hispanic-Spanish video which below up on social media and more importantly educated lots of folks on the differences of terminology. Identity is something that Lazo thinks a lot about. Though she calls Riverdale, an enclave in the southwestern Bronx, home now, she grew up in middle class Astoria, Queens with lots of immigrant European families. She spent many years being asked if she was "Spanish". “I corrected them every single time. It was frustrating,” she explains. Now, she finally has a definitive answer with her latest viral video. For the record,
Until a term comes around that fully encompasses and embraces both the indigenous and African influences of Latin America, I will identify as an indigenous Latina.Lazo’s mother is Colombian and her father Peruvian. There were times growing up when Lazo would not mention her Peruvian ancestry because it was frequently met with derision. “Oh, you’re Peruvian? Ew,” she heard. “Peruvian whore,” some called her. Saying she was Colombian didn’t elicit the same response. Over time Lazo began to understand the anti-indigenous sentiment behind the hateful utterances. Today, Lazo isn’t ashamed of her Peruvian ancestry. “I found a lot of beauty in my father’s culture,” she says. It is her indigenous features, inherited from her father, that set her apart.
Related From Vivala: Latinx: An Intentionally Inclusive Language
Lazo now produces Project Bronx with her fiance Adam Levine-Peres. “It’s a labor of love,” Levine-Peres says. Lazo taught Levine-Peres when to stop talking and listen. That concept inspired his most popular video “What is Mansplaining?” about the phenomenon in which men interrupt or speak over women to explain concepts about which women know more. Like Lazo’s street harassment video, Levine-Peres got lots of criticism for his mansplaining video. “Femi-whipped, emasculated moron,” one anonymous commenter wrote.
“I got into the YouTube game because I didn’t see myself. I came from the acting world and I was really frustrated at the stereotypes that were put on me,” Lazo says. “Therefore I took an accessible platform to make my own content in order to have my own views heard.” She was inspired by women of color like Issa Rae, of the Awkward Black Girl series, and Francheska Ramsey, whose video “Shit White Girls Say… to Black Girls” is at nearly 12 million views. English-dominant Latinas are still largely absent from YouTube. As of late, Lazo has been uploading videos to her Facebook page to increase viewership as social media users are increasingly dependent on Facebook and decreasingly likely to exit the platform to consume information.
This year promises to be big for Lazo. She and Levine-Peres will celebrate their ten years together by getting married in July. She anticipates having more free time to satisfy TheeKatsMeoww fans with new video content. To start, she wants to look at light-skinned privilege in the Latina community. She also wants to educate people on machismo’s counterpart: marianismo, the Latina’s role of quiet, pure sufferer. Lazo grew up in a machista home, where her mother, after a full day of cleaning apartments, had to cook and serve dinner, then clean up after her husband. “It was really enfuriating to see those inequalities in a household, in a place where you’re supposed to feel safe.”
Even with haters, expect more from Lazo. Apparently, challenging norms runs in her blood.
I come from long line of bad ass berraca women who, despite all this machista bullshit, have really done amazing things.