Help Move the Mami Memoir Forward

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Those who have been in my life via the internet since I began using it as an outlet in the 1990s, those who knew or have known me before and those who know me only recently, Family Florshare one piece of knowledge: how important mami’hood (the way motherhood works with women of color politics/identity) is to me.

I became acutely aware of this when I became a mother myself but the role and space mami’hood holds was a powerful influence before then – through the strong mamis in my family, to the mamis fighting for justice for their sons against the NYPD, to mamis I met struggling to balance activism, art, and their families.

Long ago, I planted a seed of wanting to write about what mami’hood looked like to me – how I became a part of this very special neighborhood, how I grow into it (often painfully) and how I help it grow (often joyfully).

I am blessed that this year I was accepted to VONA Voices Writing Workshop at the University of California, Berkeley, June 22 – June 28. Once I arrive, I will spend a week with Staceyann Chin and other writers of color working on my mami’hood memoir.

I am humbly asking for help in funding my time at VONA. I am currently a full time student and not working steadily and the cost of VONA Voices is $1450, NOT including travel costs. I am still waiting to see if I received any financial aid, which I applied for but in the meantime there is a deposit to be paid.

Part of my VONA application involved the beginning of a real manuscript and I really feel like VONA can/will help me move my writing forward to the next level.

If you can donate, it will be very much appreciated. I also appreciate and warmly accepted good wishes and love, though for those who don’t have money to give.





Gracias

Mala

Lessons from an Undergrad Women’s Health Class : I’m guilty

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One of the general education requirements involves me taking a health class. So, this semester I have been taking a women’s health class.

Twice a week at 9 am I file into a usually stuffy room with my classmates, primarily young Latinas.

At first I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that the instructor was a woman of color. That sigh was very short lived.

While much of the class so far has focused on emotional, mental health and self improvement, I often find myself wonder in my women’s health class if I’m in class or a 1950’s sex ed class strongly emphasizing the gender binary and Christian morals.

According to my teacher, a woman of color, men and women act in very prescribed ways and relationships between the genders (she sees only two) are good if each understands how the mind of each innately function.

Some examples of things she has said:

Women are good multi-taskers.

Women naturally nag and this hurts the self-esteem of men.

Men are simple.

Women are complicated.

Women are so hormonal

women are so insecure

Women need women friends because you can never be sure that a male friend doesn’t want to sleep with you.

While my teacher hasn’t outright expressed her religion, it’s obvious where her values are. She has shown “motivational” videos that teach the value of positive thinking even in tough circumstances. While none of the videos mention God or Jesus, the organizations that put out the videos are all Christian like the Foundation for a Better Life.

Some other messages I have heard in class:

Sex before marriage is a mistake.

Sexual pleasure has no part of self-worth

I don’t know how many young single moms there are in my class. I know I was a young single mom and even though I have been at the mami’hood things for a while, her messages to young moms struck me.

In one class the teacher said that being a young unmarried mom is a mistake but those that fell or fall into that category shouldn’t beat ourselves up too much.

“It’s spilled milk,” (no pun intended on her part – I think)

In the last class I attended ( I skipped a class to watch my little one receive a medal for getting on the honor roll ) she said

“Do things right, do not give your body if you are not married and if you are guilty – we’re not here to judge you.”

So children of unwed moms are accidents to be “cleaned up”.

I and many others “did things wrong” and are “doing things wrong” by having sex outside of marriage.

But my guilty ass shouldn’t feel judged.
Great messages for young women no?

Full Time Woman of Color Returning Student Blues

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I’m in my second semester as an undergraduate student. It’s not my first second semester. It’s been almost 17 years since I first attended college as a fresh eager young adult and I can remember my second semester of my first year at a New England liberal arts school as a scholarship student also working three jobs on campus. A lot of the stressors are the same. I didn’t find the work particularly difficult, there was just a lot of it back then. I had to balance papers, readings, class discussions with work back then. Now, I’m juggling a full course load while with a few freelance gigs here and there, while balancing taking care of a family and a home. There’s a reason why I think it’s good to go to school when you’re younger. You generally have more energy. The physical drain of going to classes is felt so much more in my 36 year old body.

But there is something else. The first second semester of my undergraduate education felt hard because I felt isolated as a student of color from the city in a mostly white  suburban environment. I was dorming with roommates who felt threatened by my involvement in political causes like the working against police brutality and speaking out about the Puerto Rican political prisoners. My dorm room altar to the ancestors and Orishas scared them. My music annoyed them. It didn’t feel safe for me the way they felt unsafe around me and my ethnic markers.

Privileged white students bothered me then, when I was 18 and 19 years old I wrapped myself in the comfort of my community in New York City that I could always return to and who would send me care packages of news clippings of rallies and other events I was physically missing but was connected to.

Here, I am far from my home of New York City again but by choice. My community here is my little blended family in our house in the hood, my small circle of mostly women of color friends, and my years of experience as an activist and writer which I always draw strength and inspiration from.

It’s funny though, how in higher ed, even if its a community college setting while I wait for my old credits to transfer over so I can finish my Bachelor’s degree at a four year college, things haven’t changed that much when it comes to the low expectations set for students of color and the blatant display of privileged temper tantrums coming from certain students when confronted with the ugly reality that has always lived outside their sheltered doors.

In my journalism class, where few know of my extensive work as an independent media maker, I was told, in front of my class of mostly young Chicano students how ambitious I was for daring to say I intended to transfer to a private university. In that same class, I was given a backhanded compliment, told my writing was so good they had to check and make sure it wasn’t plagiarized because of my extensive vocabulary. When I’ve gone out to do interviews for the student newspaper, I am complimented on my professionalism and on doing my homework when asking questions. These compliments have come from professors and students alike.

Is so little expected of certain college students that good work is praised in a coded way that repeats stereotypes of what students of color are capable of?

In English class, where we are having discussions on privilege, today there was a small backlash from some white women who resented having to read texts that critiqued the growing gap between classes and how that was connected to race, gender, and sexuality.

They actually defended the idea that not every child could have clean, safe playgrounds and protested what they felt was an attack, by a woman of color author whom they met only as ink in the class textbook.

“It’s not my fault I have a $500 bag.”

“It’s not my fault my parents gave me a car,”

“There are so many opportunities for single mothers like food stamps and financial aid.”

“What do you mean every parent can’t buy their child a microscope to play with?”

I thought that as a 36 year old woman these things would be easier to hear coming from the mouths of young students. Part of me just wanted to shake my head and dismiss the above actual comments as a result of youthful privileged innocence. But as a 36 year old woman, I also know better. I know the adults some of these students will become. They will become the politicians, the pundits, the doctors I take my kids to with my their Medi-Cal card who speak down to me assuming I won’t understand their jargon.

I want to do a better job at documenting these experiences. There is so much talk about ensuring that young students of color succeed in higher education without real consideration about how lowered expectations and stereotypes do so much damage that cannot be fully measured in dropout and retention rates. I want to document these experiences not just as a therapeutic exercise for myself, as my writing always has been, but also as a call for reflection and discussion among students, academics and would be  higher ed students.

My teenage daughter and stepson are both looking at colleges with excitement and I’m sure a little bit of apprehension. I want good, challenging experiences for them that will raise them up, not make them further doubt themselves.

People don’t say poor students of color can’t do well outright. It’s much more coded now in the language of common core standards and long standing practices of underfunding now hidden under the guise of school choice and new tracking that asks students to deny their languages and cultures.
I’m privileged to be experiencing higher ed again but as an adult woman of color with a rich arsenal of experiences under her belt, I can see things that so many can’t or won’t. Out of this privilege comes a sense of responsibility to speak up and shine a light on this system. I don’t know what will come out of it but here I go.

Work : Not what I want but maybe what I need

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I have traveled this year but I'm still waiting for my fortune (beside this slip of paper)

I have traveled this year but I’m still waiting for my fortune (beside this slip of paper)

I ended 2013 hoping I would start 2014 with a full time reporting job. I successfully made it through two rounds of consideration, including one interview and was invited to partake in a final interview process for a local blog. It was not an exact fit. It was writing about an area that I will admit and admitted I need to learn more about (transportation issues) but I was eager to learn and even more eager to have a full time job.

After the final interview I felt discouraged. I had enough experience but maybe not the right experience. I looked at my fellow candidates, all men who could be read as white and felt notably “unhip” compared to them. I also was pretty sure the job wasn’t a good fit for me.

When I received the email telling me they went in another direction, I wasn’t surprised but I was saddened. I didn’t have any other major prospects looming but I certainly had bills looming. I deconstructed the email. The job was given to someone who had been part of the organization in the past and someone they felt was capable of “handling the writing load”. Was it nepotism? Did they think I couldn’t handle the workload? I wasn’t just saddened anymore. I was downright depressed about it. I cried. I questioned my ability. I worried. I still worry.

It wasn’t a complete loss. I was offered a freelance role with the organization, which I gladly accepted. I meditated. I prayed. I spoke to my spiritual advisor about it who encouraged me to look back at my history of writing and push forward with my own writing projects I have left on the backburner because of fear. Fear of what? Fear of not being good enough. Fear of showing my ass. Fears based on past traumas that actually have little to do with my current status, talent, skill and experience.  I was talked through my scripts of self-doubt and letting them go.

I’m not exactly satisfied. I don’t like the idea put forward by my advisor and put forward often by my partner if doing work outside of my passion, writing. Been there, done that and I resent it. I remember how much I hate retail and wonder what else can a returning full time college student can do while maintaining my passion and taking care of my family.

But I push forward. I’m looking back at my writing. I originally thought that doing so would lead me to write about mami’hood – experiences as a single activist mother of color and was surprised by the fact that is not what drew me in. What drew me in were stories about my intimate relationships with others so I’m going to follow that thread and train of thought for now.

I push forward. My full time semester is coming along with the workload. I push forward with transfer applications to a four-year college. I’m struggling though with what to do next for money though as I watch my bank account balance dwindle.

Loving Each Other Harder in Academia and Beyond

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The view from one of my classes last semester.

The view from one of my classes last semester.

There is no other choice. 2013 reminded us of that. Projects like #FemFuture, roundtables where absence shouted louder than words, forums that threatened the bodies, hearts and minds of women of color affirmed what those of us connected in person and through keyboards have known historically, have historically carried in our blood, that loving one another and ourselves as hard as we can at any given moment is our very survival.

When I tweeted to my dear herman@ BlackAmazon in April of last year that we needed to love each other harder in the face of the violence of erasure and making invisible, those were more than words. It is a practice. It is negotiating complicated relationships with one another and the world we have to face everyday. It’s more than just public love letters back and forth. It’s everything in between. Everything that is not seen or not publicized. It is aching feet from retail battling with itchy hands wanting to write, tongues anxious to speak.

Now those words – chosen carefully: loving each other harder is an event, The 2nd Women of Color Student Conference (formerly the Women of Color Student Summit) of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus.

This raised so many mixed feelings in me. I was honored and humbled that my words and feelings were connected to something larger.   I was a student of color in a four-year university environment. I remember how hard it was. My survival there was based on relationships that I built with other women of color. Those women were fellow students and there were also faculty who faced discrimination from students, from faculty and from the administration.

While it was not the hostile environment that ultimately caused me to leave that institution it certainly played a role. As a first year student in the New England liberal arts college I was harassed because of the music I listen to because of how I spoke because of where I came from and because of people’s perception of all the aforementioned. The fact that I chose not to shrink back into invisibility, the fact that I chose to fight back through being active on the campus by being outspoken by creating events and performing poetry, by defending professors of color who were not given tenure, by hosting events on colonialism including the Puerto Rican political prisoners and my hourly manifesting in my dorm room my culture, my history, and my spiritual beliefs and practices made me more target. I was a threat. I was so much of a threat that my roommates essentially got me kicked out of my dorm at the end of my first year. I left after the first semester of my second year.

From the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus:

Loving Each Other Harder will continue and expand upon those themes, and provide an[MO1]  opportunity for attendees to examine these ideas in the context of intersectionality. What are the multiple identities of women of color? How do they affect the learning, leading and living experiences of women of color students, particularly at predominantly white institutions (PWIs)? How do these identities affect how women of color see and work with one another?

16 years later I returned to school to continue where I left off. I didn’t return to a four year, predominantly white institution. I returned to a community college that was predominantly people of color. Right now I am applying to transfer to a four year predominantly white institution. I wonder what that will look like for me – my multiple identities: NYRican, mami, returning/non-traditional/not young, working etc. How will I work with and see the other students? How will they see me? The fact that the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus is hosting such an event, for the second year in a row, shows me what I have heard from so many others, that little has changed for women of color since I left college 16 years ago.

I know I am not the only one with these questions, which is why I welcome the space that the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is creating. I hope that the space will be replicated beyond a once a year a conference and be integrated into the daily work of that university and others. It is needed, for me, for others.

On Making Lists and List Making

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Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 12.54.39 PM

Whenever a new year begins media makers put out lists of trends and people to watch. These lists deal with fashion, politics, films, art and increasingly social media.

I’m no stranger to these lists. In my over a decade of being a Latin@ media maker for fun and profit I have found my name and my work on a number of these lists. This year started with me being named one of 8 Latinas You Should Be Following on Twitter by Cosmo for Latinas.

I never know quite how to react when I make these lists. I’d be fronting if I wrote that I don’t like the ego stroking, the momentary attention that comes with being named. As an independent Latina media maker who has never shied away from controversy, the affirmation, however ephemeral, feels good. I’m always also humbles when I make such lists. While making the Cosmo for Latina list probably has something to do with a feature article I wrote for their upcoming Spring 2014 print edition, it also has to do with years of hard work and constantly putting myself out there despite not being “traditional” and constantly challenging the idea that mujeres como yo do not deserve space, a voice, a spotlight. On this particular list I find myself sharing digital space with the heads of non-profits and “feminists”, titles I don’t claim.

When I make these lists, of course I share the information. I express my gratitude. Things I’m supposed to do. Then I do what I’m not supposed to do: delve a little deeper.

I look at this list and others and note who gets named and who doesn’t. Looking at the label “Latina”, it’s mostly white or white looking Latinas, straight and cisgender Latinas, college educated Latinas who have followed the “correct” path of upward mobility, and visibility in their field. I think of all the Latin@s I know and love, the women of color, the AfroLatin@s, the mamis who have had my back and vice versa when we are hot but most importantly, when we are not – which is more often.

It’s never been a goal of mine to be on a list, to represent or speak for anyone else except for my lived experiences and myself and things I have witnessed, heard, held down conversations about, studied, analyzed. When I joined Twitter almost six years ago, like when I extended my life online way before then, it was for me and it still is very much for me and it’s been good for me. I tweet about politics, live tweet significant and insignificant events. I’ve gotten work through twitter. I’ve made deep friendships through twitter.  I’ve found love through twitter.

Being on a list though – any list – doesn’t mean everything or anything though. Being “known” especially as a woman of color doesn’t mean I’m well paid. In fact, at this very moment I don’t have a steady, full-time job. I worry about where and when my next paycheck is coming from.

I am not a malagradecida though. I’m very grateful for each and every moment I live and share, online and off and the people who have been with me and the new people I find and who find me in all my complexities, with all my greatness and all my flaws.

A year ending in firsts ; A year beginning with firsts

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The past year was full of firsts. First time back in school after 16 years. First time committing to my spiritual development. First time getting a learner’s permit to drive.  First job interview in a while. This is the first New Years in Los Angeles with my pareja.

Just like 2013 was filled with firsts, the New Year is starting with firsts. My pareja, his son and I are traveling together for the first time. It will be the first time I meet any of my pareja’s family (besides his son). I will meet his brother, sister in law and niece. There is a chance I will meet his father.

I am not nervous. I’m not worried about if they will like me or not or if they will compare me to the mother of my pareja’s son. For me, I’m looking forward to enjoying the time watching how he functions within his family. My partner has met my mother and my sister and spent time with them in both New York and Los Angeles.

I’m glad I was able to kiss my partner at midnight although it was a new years like no other. My partner and son didn’t count down which was strange to me, as were the fireworks that lit up the East Los Angeles Sky.

I had an old moment last night while standing on the front porch of our home, with my partner’s arms around me. Suddenly I felt nostalgic for new years past, watching my own grandmother’s eyes well up with tears at midnight for those who couldn’t welcome the New Year because they were dead or far away I missed my daughters, who, are staying in New York for another week. I missed my mom and my sister, who of course cried when she dropped me off at the airport in Queens.

Maybe one day we will all spend the holidays together. That would be ideal.

It’s been three years since my pareja last saw his, which to me is so strange. My mother gets upset if I don’t speak to her once a week. I can’t imagine not seeing my family for three years.

I’m happy though. I’m exhausted from traveling to the East Coast from Los Angeles and back and then to the middle of the country, but happy. I think all new years should start with meaningful firsts, like this moment sitting next to my pareja in a plane.

Returning to writing when the columns (and checks) end

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A journal is open with a black pen in the seam. A glass of white wine is in the background

Routines are important

When I moved to Los Angeles over a year ago,  I was lucky enough to get a column on Univision/ABC’s English language website, that we now know as Fusion. The NYRican in LA column charted my experiences adjusting to life in the City of Angels and living with my hijas and my pareja after years of single mami’hood in Queens, NYC. It was an amazing opportunity and practice to have a byline every other week connected with a major national network.

However, “luck” is probably the wrong word. It means by chance and not because of my own work as an independent media maker for years. When I began writing publicly online as Mamita Mala, no one paid me to do it. I didn’t do it for attention or in the hopes of getting a book deal. I did it because as a struggling political single mami I had things to say and I knew there just had to be others out there feeling, thinking the same things. Before social media was social media, my online writing was a way to connect. Many of the things I wrote about  related to my personal life, including probably way too intimate details of my puterias, but even those stories were deeply connected to the artery of a larger community of women of color reclaiming our own voices. That is a very conscious political act that can get very easily lost when you move from writing essentially for yourself and your chosen family to writing for a larger broadcast outlet, at least for me.

Writing a column was not easy and I wasn’t perfect at it. I had pretty much free range of topics and wasn’t heavily edited, so I retained my voice which is a rare gift. However writing a column requires  a certain amount of discipline I will admit I am  not always good at keeping. I can and do get derailed by stressors in my life.

My first year living in Los Angeles certainly was filled with stressors:  a cross-country move, leaving my family behind, the bumps that come with a blended family, work.

I also have to admit that I got comfortable with writing for a major network.  I didn’t write for myself anymore. I didn’t keep up the blog that was a large part of my success. I didn’t even write on my own personal blog where “Mamita Mala” was born. I saved all my writing energy and ideas for the column. Everything else was locked away in the pages of my personal journal. There was no other output.

So when the column suddenly ended without really an explanation as to why (although I have my speculations), I became stuck. I was depressed by the lost opportunity (not so much the income as it never paid enough on it’s own). Another political blog I wrote for stopped using freelance writers. I applied for blogging and writing positions on other websites and was not getting them. So I just stopped. I ignored the spaces I helped to create. I became convinced that no one wanted to hear from a woman like me,  a Rican mami with years of experience, a unique voice but undereducated and perhaps over-opinionated.

That was a huge mistake. It was giving up and giving in to the widely held message that my voice and voices like mine don’t matter, that my experiences don’t matter, that my existence doesn’t matter.

But it does.

This right here is the next step. I have to make writing my public practice again and not just because I’m getting paid.

I will continue to write personal pieces like this one on my Mamita Mala blog as I did for oh so many years.  I will also write posts about being a NYRican in LA here as well because well even though I have been here for over a year, Los Angeles never ceases to amaze me.

I will continue VivirLatino. There is still a need for independent new reporting and analysis, not to mention sharing the wonderful work of so many other people.

As for my future as a professional, meaning getting a paycheck for my writing, I never wrote thinking of it as a career even though that is what it is. I’ve had and will work to continue to have opportunities writing for national publications and outlets. I will continue to look for those opportunities.

I also believe we can create our own opportunities. My own life is proof of that. It’s why I created Mamita Mala Media to not just promote myself but work with organizations and individuals on media creation and strategies.

All of this has to be grounded in the number one rule. Writers write, be it for themselves or for publications that will give them a byline. It’s been years since I have written or performed poetry and it is something I miss and want/need to return to.
Now it’s a time to become radical again, return to root – raiz. I am writer so I will make my own opportunities, create and foster my own spaces while pushing to make existing spaces more inclusive.

Retail Makes Me Cry

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A few weeks ago, for my NYRIcan in LA column, I wrote about how my retail gig in a major department store necessitated an additional shift in my identity and how unhappy that makes me. What I didn’t share was just how unhappy it really makes me. Last week I spent nearly an entire morning sobbing before heading into downtown for another shift. This morning, I cried again while having a conversation with my pareja about my limited options as a college dropout and my frustration at seeing others get jobs I feel qualified for.

My pareja blames my lack of focus since I moved to Los Angeles and he’s right in some sense. The truth is that I feel like now I juggling more than I did when I was single back in NYC. There’s more housework including laundry and cooking. More house responsibilities like repairs which means more house costs to pay exterminators, electricians, gardeners, contractors. I work anywhere from 22-35 hours a week in retail earning a dollar an hour more than California minimum wage. I write a column twice a month and contribute five to six posts a month to a political blog. I tutor 2-5 hours a week. I pay for the bulk of the groceries, the house gas bill, and student loan debt from a college I dropped out of. I care for my two kids the best I can, trying to keep up with their homework assignments and sending the youngest to an after school program so I can work later shifts. There are many nights I come home and the younger one is already asleep. Yes, I am very distracted and the truth is I’m also very depressed.

I don’t expect a ton of sympathy. As my pareja points about often, most people hate their jobs. And I’m very privileged. I live in a house. I have access to food. I am relatively healthy. But yes I would like some sympathy or at the very least some understanding and support. The truth is that I feel like I am doing less writing than ever. My loyalties are stretched thin with work and family relationships taking priority. But I remember when blogging was right up there. When I considered it work even if I wasn’t getting paid. I remember when with less I felt like I did more, including volunteer work. Now I feel like I have more but am getting less.

I see projects like Fem Future and lifestyle bloggers getting non-profit gigs while I get passed over for a local writing gigs and non-profit work that would leave me feeling more human than retail work does. And it makes me feel horrible. Like no matter how much work I have done online, for magazines, websites etc, it’s still not good enough because I don’t have a college degree.

The other day a customer I was ringing up told me, “I know times are tough but you shouldn’t be here,”. I wanted to kiss him and slap him at the same time. He was right. I shouldn’t be there but not because I’m any better than any of my co-workers and certainly not better than my mother who raised my sister and I while working retail, only just retiring less than a year ago. I’m no better than some of my dear friends who work retail. I just don’t want to be there.

Retail kills my energy and brain cells. I will admit to not wanting to write about an eight hour shift on my feet. In fact I don’t want to do anything after working. I especially don’t want to talk to people after making small talk, making change, and taking payments with a forced smile. I can see why my mother and so many others zone out in front of the tv after work. Anything to escape until the next shift begins.

But there I am and there I will be until something “better” comes along that hopefully will make me happier or at the very least cry a little less.

Why We Can’t Ignore Being Ignored or Accused of “Sniping”

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I cannot count the number of times I have sat across a table or beside BlackAmazon, how many times I have texted, emailed, or said on the phone to her “You just need to ignore them. Don’t give them so much of your precious energy”. The conversation has been repeated for as long as I have been on the internet and even before. Who are the voices that get heard and how do they get heard? How can people hear/see me and my experiences.

Before I moved to Los Angeles, one of the last things I did was watch Beasts of the Southern Wild with BA and when it was over the two of just sat next to each other. She was quiet and I was stifling sobs. Not because it was a “great” movie but because the two of us, as two very different women of color felt so much for Quvenzhané Wallis, as a character and most importantly as a little black girl. And we knew, with all the clairvoyance that history and our lived experiences give women of color, what would happen.

Ignore it. Don’t give it your precious energy.

And then #FemFuture

Ignore It. Don’t Give it your precious energy.

But I did. My peeps were talking, writing and responding. It wasn’t that I was jumping on the band wagon. But like WAM! Like Seal Press, all the other invites, tokenizing, reports, books, conferences, blogs non-attribution, lack of solidarity, this was about work love, love work, love and work being diminished, pushed aside, misnamed as hate, jealousy, sniping. This was and is again about selective memory and history.

We can’t ignore it. It is our precious energy.

When I met BFP for the first time I reached out and touched her. I told her “somos carne” – we are real flesh, not just what we choose to write about, share, make money off of, get our degrees on, get grants to present and travel. This is about three mamas, Noemi, Fabi and I, sitting in a room in Detroit, children playing at our feet, eating out of a cooler and us laughing so hard until we cried. Crying so hard until we laughed. It’s about a hand rubbing Rose’s back at a conference table as she spoke in the face of transphobia masked in “good intentions”. It’s about sitting in TK’s living room with her worrying about how her daughter will go to college. It’s about hearing BA sing, watching Nadia recite into a mic, seeing Anna with my teen, witnessing Lex dancing, recording voice with Moya, and chopping vegetables with Adela. It’s about visiting Stacey’s hotel room with cupcakes. Making sure the house has a ramp. Making sure your friend has a bed to sleep on even if it’s in your living room. It’s about Karla and I ordering room service and going to the gym with Jun-Fung. It’s about two Mariposas telling me I belong. It’s about Bianca sending me coffee and giving books to my teen and Lenee introducing la Mapu to Turquoise Jeep.

It’s not new and that gets old. Every few years something will rear it’s ugly head at us and remind us that everything we did and do for each other doesn’t have value in someone else’s version of the future. This is not a debate about “feminism”. I’ve given up on that easily and without an ounce of shame. It’s about how we as women of color, trans people of color, gender non-conforming people of color, our familias, our kids have been making a future everyday online and off.

You can’t ignore our precious energy. It’s what we give unto the world everyday whether we are working long ass low paying hours in retail, getting our Doctorates, making movies, writing poetry, skyping, making websites, breaking or building relationships, curating fashion shows. We are constantly communicating our lives, making media that reflects the path behind us and sets the stones for the road before us.

The future has been here all along. Choosing to ignore that, not cite it is to erase our precious energy that is our very being. And we will not allow it.

We Love Each Other Too Hard.