Being a parent is difficult regardless of age, gender or the things that can make us feel different. Many parents struggle with a lack of access to a living wage or adequate healthcare or the support they need. This can be particularly difficult for women.

The narrative about the “perfect” mother is virtually impossible for any of us to achieve and is unfair. The pressure to be perfect makes it difficult to ask for help when needed. This is particularly true for women who have experienced addiction or who are trying to recover from a challenge with substance use.

Many communities face issues with substance use and addiction and should be responded to with treatment and support, not criminalization and stigma. As advocates work to reform a system that prefers jail rather than care, the stigma that judges folks instead of being there for them also needs to change. The “Message to Our Mothers/ Mensaje a Nuestras Madres” project (M2M) launching in Denver later this month will begin by leveraging the power of art and storytelling to change the culture around substance use.

Inspired by the work of Branislav Jankic, this project aims to give voice and connection to families dealing with substance use. The Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) and Elephant Circle are bringing Jankic’s film Letter to My Mother to the Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake (4255 W Colfax Ave, Denver) for a free community screening on July 27th.

Letter to My Mother is a visual and literary body of work that reveals an impactful look into the lives of mothers who have dealt with addiction in the United States. When the artist’s mother, a former prescription drug and alcohol addict, was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2012, Jankic, who had experienced his own struggles with addiction throughout his teenage years, began writing a letter to his mother expressing his regrets for their dismantled relationship and his misunderstanding of her struggles hoping to show both love and forgiveness.

On a quest to re-assess and reconcile his relationship with his mother, he decided to create a narrative that is often left hidden and produce a dialogue about motherhood and addiction outside of its stereotypically taboo associations. He was hoping to find pieces of his mother amongst other mothers dealing with substance use and ultimately develop a sort of portrait of her through their photographs and letters. This work was later published into a book also titled Letter to My Mother.

After screening of this powerful documentary, COLOR and Elephant Circle will begin a 9-month project to cultivate dialogue and understanding in Colorado. Continuing in the vein of Jankic’s work, local artists will collaborate with storytellers to cultivate connections and combat stigma.

Through this project the communidad will begin to do more and show we support madres without judgement.

COLOR works to for the benefit of Latinas in Colorado. For more information about this and other items please contact Jolene Cardenas at Jolene@colorlatina.org or call 303-393-0382.