Tag Archives: activism

What Do We Tell/Show the Children?

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Holy winter break batman. When the kids are off from school, I barely have any physical space to myself, let alone mental space to process things out via typed text. In the space I occupy with my daughters, this space between Egypt, Libya, Puerto Rico, Bahrain, Algeria and Yemen, I have woken up on many mornings wondering how, what do we tell/show our children about movement(s), justice, and responsibility?

In the space I occupy with my children somewhere between Egypt, Puerto Rico, Libya, Bahrain y Algeria, in the same country as Arizona, Mississippi and Wisconsin, they bear witness from afar. And when I speak of my children, I am not just speaking of my biological daughters but of the community who sit almost daily at my mother’s kitchen table. I read aloud from the news. Pull out maps and point to these places.

My children are movement children. You can ask my mom and sister, who still laugh at the fact that La Mapu’s first full sentence was “No Justice, No peace”. Poroto, has traded in her “si se puedes” for “Egypt, Egypt, Egypt”. La Mapu has taken a renewed interest in one of her patrias, Puerto Rico, one afternoon surprising me by asking aloud from my mother’s living room as she watched cartoons, “how do the liberation struggles in the Middle East translate to the student struggles in Puerto Rico?”

I nearly cried with pride.

While she fought with her sister on the floor of Julia de Burgos in El Barrio, I noted she argued because she wanted to pay attention. She was watching the videos I have been watching and reporting on for months, of Puerto Rican students getting beaten, tear gassed and sexually assaulted. She was paying attention, on her own terms.

I stopped forcing la Mapu to meetings, conferences and rallies as soon as she was old enough to stay a few hours by herself but she can’t escape that this is the world we live in, impacting loved ones, some whom she has met, some whom she knows through their blogs and twitter avatars. Last night, she cried over the dead in Libya and all I could do was hold her.

But what of the children who are left unaware as I was as a child. When I woke up at age 16 and suddenly realized I had been lied to about history and my role in it, I felt angry, betrayed and motivated. My life has never been the same.

I am participating in an event as a story teller in a local museum in a few weeks. The theme is art and activism. How do I talk with children who don’t witness and navigate these spaces on a daily basis or are like those Central Park horses with their eyes fixed on the tiny camino in front of them, blind to the rest of the world around them that they stand in the middle of?

I have never lied to my children about the struggles that exist in this world. Some of them they experience on their own, some of them through my work/life. But what of the children who are shielded? How to hold their hand slowly, open their eyes slowly so they are not afraid but awakened?

That is the question that has been waking me up for weeks.

I welcome answers/suggestions.

Free Range Mami

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I was feeling massively aggravated on Sunday. Aggravated because there was laundry that needed to be done. Aggravated because el Chileno doesn’t believe in a visitation schedule and kind of just shows up after he gets done doing what he needs to do, even if that just means sleeping in because he hung out too late the night before. Aggravated because I would rather been at a rally against what the Israeli government did to the Flotilla instead of helping my 12 year old prep for finals even if I wasn’t so keen on the org behind the rally. I wanted a public space to express my anger with my presence, not just typed letters.

My frustration reminded me of my younger mami’hood days. Mami’hood 1.0 if you will, when if I wanted to go to a rally I packed up la Mapu and went. If there was a risk of arrest or if I knew I was going to get arrested, I let my mom know and she would stay with la Mapu. But that was in a different time with a younger, more willing, less tired mother, with a different, more easy-going child and with only one child.

I guiltily wondered, how many mamis were on board the flotilla and how they probably didn’t worry about their kid’s finals or dirty Dora the explorer panties.

I’m often asked how I do it all and most of the time I feel like I do it pretty damn poorly, from mami’ing to organizing, to writing. I feel like I’m always behind, always struggling, always broke. I mean my kids are generally great, smart and aware pero I feel like people are always watching me and not in a creepy please don’t break into my house again way, pero to judge.

I am not the upper middle class mommy writer who leaves her kid alone in the park and gets a ton of media coverage on it (and of course she has a book deal pero that’s a whole different post).

Porque where I live, publicizing leaving my 12 year old kid could get a visit from CPS and then get my kid taken away. Where I live, my sister takes her pre-k class to a puppet show about safety and all the 4 year olds yell that they should not talk to the police officer because where I live it’s been feeling like Phoenix for a long ass time for familias. Where I live, the police knew me at first because my apartment was broken into, but now after seeing me at a few local rallies and marches, they know my kids and I and give us the “you deserved what you got” look.

“free range” is inaccessible, whether that be in the local Associated Supermarket where the free range eggs are $5.00 or in the local park where the mami/vendors hold their children tight next to the shopping carts filled with elotes or bottles of water.

I’m still frustrated that I can’t go to a million meetings and rallies planned this week because I am so broke ass right now and need to work doing something I am not really enjoying at the moment or because poroto is a little more inquieta than her sister and can’t be expected to not run into a line of police officers at a protest.
Everything is measured here, carefully.

The Cocina vs las Calles : Historias and Enabling

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I’m contemplating a break pero I don’t know exactly what from or how. I’m tired, physically and emotionally. Two weekends of rallies/marches in a row along with the usual hustle of single mami’hood and tutoring work remind me that despite the fact that a friend in the movement says I look like a college student, I am approaching my mid-30s.

Emotionally, I am trying to figure out patterns in my life that I keep on repeating and how to stop them, especially when they leave me feeling so gross afterwards. For example, during a surprise visit to casa mala by an ex-lover/partner in various struggles, we got to talking about bad relationship habits, especially among heterosexual Latino artist/activists. We both admitted how we fall into stereotypical machista roles in “taking care” of our partners. Partners are supposed to take care of each other pero what when the taking care of is one-sided or falls into the fucked up expectations of what mujeres are supposed to do for their hombres. When both are activists/artistas and both are doing critical important work, why does the mujer make the shared bed, cook the breakfast, serve the breakfast, clean up and el hombre is left to do his work? It is something I am guilty of allowing and I have to question where is that line of supporting fellow artists/activists so that they can do their important work and sacrificing your own shit because of internalizing fucked up gender roles? You know that saying behind every great man is a greater woman? Pero si los dos are in the same fight, doing parallel work, why should anyone be behind the other?

Yesterday after a marcha/rally in the Mala’hood, some gathered in a casa for some after protesta food and drink. Someone commented that women need to go in the kitchen to prepare the food so los hombres could go in the sala to chill. A few of the mujeres hemmed and hawed and made comments back and never mind that it was the mujeres who were behind this particular event, pero in the end, the mujeres ended up in the kitchen and los hombres en la sala (there were two hermanos who did go to the kitchen- so props to them). I don’t hate on la cocina or on the important work that mujeres do there, not just in terms of preparing sustaining foods but in terms of passing down history and plotting our own work. Pero porque siempre nosotras en la cocina and on the streets? Creo que I would love nothing more than to have an hermano in the struggle preparar me una comida or even mejor for us to prepare that meal together, sustaining ourselves and passing down history and plotting.

Pero creo que the absence of this and my own guilt in having perpetuated this means that for now, I remain soltera except for the pedacitos de companerismo that I bring into my life by invitation only and sometimes all I really want/need is a thank you and some mutual respect.

How Can Mami Movements Move Forward and be Resourced

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This is a continuation of this post, based on conversations had at the Women’s Equity Media Summit with Noemi and BFP.

In all honesty, I don’t even quite remember the questions we were answering pero I know that BFP primarily came up with this:

Multiple Media tools politicized for transformative justice

Are those our resources? Our goals? Part of our vision? Sounds like a plan of attack to me, a way to use our weapons of media, media as defined as how we communicate ourselves to others.

And how are mamis of color movements resourced?

501c3’s are not the only way we seek/need resources or want to be resourced as. We are more than charity cases, communities to be served.

BFP gave an excellent example about how in her hood the only way families, especially Latino families could get services like coats for the winter, was if they fit a certain mold, that is cleaned up and made themselves more presentable, looked deserving of services.

We should not be resourced based on our education but rather on our history of work

Education is a privilege. I personally have two years of college under my belt pero most people won’t even consider me for jobs or my opinion because I had to drop out to take care of my child. Forget the years of experience or how I have personally have helped others get their degrees. Without letters after my name on a piece of paper, I don’t fit in.

We should be resourced in terms of the role we play as part of larger struggles, as part of a continuation of historical lines of struggle.

We should not be tokenized

We should not be expected to compromise our values

We should not feel the need to compartmentalize ourselves

Resourced doesn’t just mean money, it means, especially within the context of online work, linking, citing

we should be resourced by the community, as we are part of the community

How are you resourced vs how you would like to be resourced?

La Lucha Continua

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En serio, que parte te regalo?
Seriously, which piece should I give to you?
Que pedazo de mi carne y su historia te vendo?
What part of my flesh and it’s history can I sell to you?
Cuanto me das por una libra de lagrimas?
How much can I get for a pound of tears?
Cuanto me das por cada cuenta de rosario con nombre de un muerto
Manny
Anibal
Anthony
Hilton
Frankie
Luis
Marcelo
brisenia
How much will you give me for each rosary bead named for the dead?
Is there a list building app for that?
Cuanto me das por las horas de miedo por mis hijas menos blanca que yo?
How much will you give me for the hours of fear for my daughters less white than me?
Seriously, what’s the going per hour rate for that shit?
And do I get some sort of credit for the threats, bruises, and tape
is there an employee incentive program for the healthcare that I cannot get
that I am told that I don’t deserve
como se traduce que mi vida como madre y mujer
no vale fucking nada?
What the fuck do I need to put on my resume?
Who the fuck do I need to pay to bring me over that border
when I’m told that my border ain’t real
cuz one mañana abuela woke up to work the fields
step over her drunk father
as an American Citizen.
How much tit or pussy do I have to fucking flash to make it any clearer that the dollar I earned doing just that is worth any fucking less than yours because it ain’t backed by a degree or sponsored by an organization
cuz it ain’t got a book deal.

I do not get to clock out of this shit,
ever
or write it off on my taxes
as a business expense.

En mothafucking serio
tell me to my cara
mujer a mujer
que los 16 años
that have included the oh so valued
television, radio, newspaper appearances
speaking in front of the UN, congress and las divinas called del south bronx
que this lucha isn’t about who the fuck I am
isn’t about my identity?

LLC

The Luis Ramirez Murder: A Logical Step in the Process of Establishing a Subhuman Class

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Cross-Posted at VL

banner165newSeems live every org and their mother want to take the recent injustice in the Luis Ramirez murder case and use it for toned down cries for justice separated from the multiple places that breed the kind of hate and disrespect that led to the crossroads we as a community find ourselves at now. This is why The Sanctuary (of which I am a proud member) hoy draws a line in the sand.

The process of defining a subhuman class and institutionalizing discrimination and violence against that group is not new. How quickly and conveniently some of us allow our collective memory to cover its own tracks. Parasite, diseased, leeching, dangerous, over-breeding, vermin. These terms and this imagery have been deployed for ages, on various groups of people, on various pieces of land, in the service of various endeavors; and always to bring about the same ends. To demonize and dehumanize a group of people so that other people come to understand that the social compact with the demonized group is broken; that discrimination and violence against the dehumanized class now carries no moral consequence. That is the meaning of this latest ruling by an all-white jury in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Racial murder of a Mexican carries the same consequence as walking up to a white person and punching them in the belly: simple assault.

Are you down to make the commitment to radical cambio for our lives? Then read the entire post here.

Luis Ramirez and Every Mother’s Sons and Daughters : Seeking Justice by All Means Necessary

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Cross-Posted from VivirLatino

Writing this post left me shaking and crying. I have been writing and working on these issues for almost 15 years and it is angering, sad and scary the way it keeps happening over and over again.

539w
in 1991, in the rapidly changing immigrant community of Corona, Queens, NYC 19 year old son of Dominican immigrants, Manny Mayi Jr. was beaten to death.

Last year, Marcelo Lucero was killed.

At the start of the new year Wilter Sanchez was nearly killed.

In February of this year Jose Sucuzhañay, an Ecuadorian immigrant was beaten to death.

Speaking Spanish can get you beaten.

And most recently, Luis Ramirez was beaten and killed and those accused got away with murder.

I could go through recent and not so recent history and clearly see a pattern and practice of hate that has been growing. A pattern and practice of racism, nativism, fueled by the media and government, eaten up by the mainstream public.

People in Shenandoah celebrated, went out into the streets and rejoiced after an all-white jury found Brandon J. Piekarsky, 17, and Derrick M. Donchak, 19, guilty of lesser charges and acquitted them of criminal homicide and aggravated assault.

And then people have the nerve to ask why are more Latinos not more active in the fight for immigration change?

This is not just about laws, this about lives.

So what do we as a community do?

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