les escribí una carta a mis padres…

Queridos Padres,

Les escribo con amor y honestidad y siento que esto es la manera mas segura y correcta. Quiero empezar con decirles que los aprecio y los respeto como padres nunca me han dado para abajo y siempre quieren lo mejor para mi. También se que me dieron amor y un techo por muchos anos y eso nunca se me olvidara. Me ensenaron los buenos modales de trabajar duro ser valiente y honesta y humilde con todo ser humano y esos valores nunca se me olvidaran. Eh estado pasando por un camino de confusión y reflexión en este proceso estoy creciendo y madurando como una mujer profesional. Pero con eso también viene el hacer honesta con ustedes no tenia el valor en decirles como realmente me eh sentido Y quien me atraía como persona gay porque no quería causarles dolor y mirarlos tristes. No encontraba la manera de decirles y por eso no sabia como actuar y me alejaba de ustedes y empecé a tomar para sacar lo que traía adentro. Se que en los ojos de ustedes es algo difícil de comprender a un pero yo soy ser humana y sigo haciendo su hija y los sigo amando y queriendo siempre. Espero que me entiendan y no me miren diferente porque ya me canse de vivir una doble vida. Quiera a quien quiera quiero ser libre y poder expresarme y ser sincera con ustedes y darlos a respetar aun mas. Los adoro a todos y espero que después de esto estemos aun mas unidos como familia pero se que tengo que darles tiempo para reaccionar. Aquí estaré esperándolos con mis brazos abiertos los adoro mama y papa siempre!

Con mucho amor y cariño su hija.

malintZine Suggested Reading List (to be decent)

This list is probably going to grow (ALOT)- please feel free to comment and add your ideas for recommended reading or send your suggestions to malintzine@gmail.com

The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities – Ching-In Chen (Editor), Jai Dulani (Editor), and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Editor); Andrea Smith (preface)

Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide – Andrea Smith

Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism – Daisy Hernandez

Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks

Loose Woman: Poems – Sandra Cisneros

Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities John D’Emilio

Crip Theory Robert McRuer

The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros

Reading Chican@ Like a Queer – Sandra Soto

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color – Cherie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua

This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation – Gloria Anzaldúa and AnaLouise Keating.

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza – Gloria Anzaldua

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches – Audre Lorde

The Black Unicorn: Poems – Audre Lorde

¡Chicana Power!: Contested Histories of Feminism in the Chicano Movement – Maylei Blackwell

A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness: Writings, 2000–2010 – Cherie Moraga

Desert Blood: The Juarez Murders – Alicia Gaspar de Alba

Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings – Alma M. Garcia

Chicana Falsa and How to be a Chicana Role Model – Michelle Serros

Women, Race and Class – Angela Davis

Living Chicana Theory  Carla Trujillo

Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa Rigoberto Gonzalez

Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States  Joey L. Mogul, Andrea J. Ritchie, Kay Whitlock

MARIPOSAS: A Modern Anthology of Queer Latino Poetry  Emanuel Xavier

For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly Yosimar Reyes

Before Night Falls: A Memoir Reinaldo Arenas

Tragic Bitches: An Experiment in Queer Performance Adelina Anthony and Lorenzo Herrera

Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue  Leslie Feinburg

Virgins, Guerrillas, and Locas: Gay Latinos Writing about Love Jaime Cortez

Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About Carla Trujillo

Chulito: A Novel Charles Rice-Gonzalez

Gay Latino Studies: A Critical Reader Michael Hames-Garcia

Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics, and Theory of LGBT Liberation Sherry Wolf

Blues Legacies and Black Feminism – Angela Davis

Methodology of the Oppressed – Chela Sandoval

The Decolonial Imaginary – Emma Perez

Infinite Divisions: An Anthology of Chicana Literature – Tey Diana Rebolledo and Eliana S. Rivero

Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity – Chandra Mohanty

Arab & Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, & Belonging – Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany, and Nadine Naber.

A fat girl’s guide to life – Wendy Shanker

Pedagogies of Crossing: meditations on feminism, sexual politics, memory, and the sacred – Jacqui Alexander

Racial Formation in the United States – Michael Omi and Howard Winant

Feminist Genealogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures – Jacqui Alexander and Chandra Mohanty

Living for the Revolution: Black Feminist Organizations, 1968-1980 – Kimberly Springer

The Straight Mind – Monique Wittig

Color of Violence: The Incite! Anthology – INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence

Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment – Patricia Hill Collins

Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought – Beverly Guy-Sheftall

Entry Denied: Controlling Sexuality at the Border – Eithne Luibheid

Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law – Dean Spade

The Legacy of Conquest – Patricia Limerick

Race, Reform and Rebellion – Manning Marable

Autobiography of Angela Davis – Angela Davis

Are you a boy or a girl?

“Are you a boy or a girl?”

I walk into a gas station convenience store, pick up my Snapple and head to the register to pay. “Good evening, Sir. How are you doing today?” I ask, with a smile on my face.  “Good, how are you?” the clerk responds.“I’m doing well” I say. He tells me my total and I hand him a $20 bill. While making my change, he keeps looking up at me. I know this look. He is trying to figure me out. My baggy clothes and fitted hat are making it hard for him to identify me.  He looks me in the eye and says “are you a boy or a girl?”. I hate this question. It makes everything awkward. “Does it matter?” I respond “I just need my change”. I can see my change in his hand. I can see the look on his face. It has quickly changed from a smile to a scary look of anger, confusion and frustration. “I need to know. Why won’t you tell me? Why are you doing this?” I shake my head, take my keys out of my pocket (just in case I have to run) and I say “What am I doing to you?” hoping he will see how ridiculous this line of questioning is. “You look like that and you won’t tell me if you’re a boy or a girl.” I look him in his eyes, snatch my change out of his hand and quickly walk to my car.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”

I am pacing in front of a public restroom again, my eyes darting back and forth between the two signs. Heart racing. Palms sweating.  Men. Women. Men. Women.  I don’t fit into either category.  A mother walks out of the side marked “Women” with her kid, so I figure this would be a good time to go in because it’s probably empty. I dart towards a stall and I see a woman standing at the sink washing her hands. I walk into the stall and latch the door. “Excuse me. Excuse me. EXCUSE ME! Are you a boy or a girl?” the woman at the sink yells. I don’t know what to say. My deep voice is only going to make the situation worse. She is now banging on the door, trying to push it open. The door is shaking in front of me. She isn’t letting up. I pull up my pants, close my belt and open the door. I rush past her and walk out of the restroom. I can hear her screaming after me. I just want to get away from the whole situation. But I still have to pee.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”

The workweek  is over. I am ready to enjoy my weekend.  I walk to the corner, raise my arm and try to hail a cab. A group of young men and women are standing on the sidewalk 10 feet away from me.  They are looking at me and laughing. I’m trying my hardest to ignore them. “Yo!” yells one of the men.” “Yo, I’m talking to you. What the fuck are you?!” I am starting to panic. I begin to walk away. “Don’t fucking walk away from me, I’m asking you something!”. I can hear his footsteps running up behind me.  He grabs my shoulder, steps in front of me. He’s pissed off. I look at his face and think “he looks like he could be my brother”.  Same skin color, same face shape, same lips and nose.  He grabs my collar with both hands and slowly says “are you a boy…or a girl?” I get myself out of his grasp and say “just leave me alone” and I turn around to walk away. I see stars when his fist knocks into the back of my head.  I turn around and begin to defend myself, but my brain and body aren’t responding the way they should. I can’t believe this is happening in broad daylight, with people all around us. As he is punching and kicking me, I can hear his friends laughing. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me but I always hope it will be the last. “Maricon!” he screams as he kicks me one last time. He picks up his backpack, joins his friends and walks off with a smile on his face. No one helped me. No one even noticed.

You don’t have the right to ask me that. It is none of your business!! Because you really don’t care about how I identify and respecting that identity. You want to know what is in between my legs and furthermore, why?? You don’t have a right to my body. You especially don’t have the right to get angry or violent because I don’t want to answer you. 

The man from the last story shattered my knee. It is a source of constant physical pain in my life and with every step I take It’s a reminder of what hate and ignorance can do. It is also a reminder that although we shared identity and community as people of color, he still hurt me. Where are we going wrong that we are making victims of the most vulnerable people in our own communities? Whether it’s sexism or transphobia/homophobia played out through hate-crimes or domestic violence, there is a problem. How are we to move forward, if we are causing pain in our own families? We are supposed to heal each other, lift each other up. And as of now, we are failing at that. 

“Although only an estimated 2 to 5% of the population is transgender, 1 in 12 Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming people will be murdered. The average life expectancy for a transgender person is 37 years old. 49% of transgender people attempt suicide. A nationwide survey of bias-motivated violence against LGBT people from 1985 to 1998 found that incidents targeting transgender people accounted for 20% of all murders and about 40% of all police-initiated violence.”- transgenderlaw.org

Mother to Son: familial obligations & roles as wombyn

It is almost humorous how our rolls have changed.

malintZINE wasn’t the beginning of recognition on part of the injustices against Chicanas by their fellow Chicanos, but has been a catalyst to verbally combat the hetero-patriarchy that has thrived within the Ethnic Studies movement for too long.

Privilege is not an easy thing to give up, so it is not surprising to the wombyn of color that those who have been proud of their power status feel targeted, victimized, and wronged.  When the oppressed finally point out the oppressor, his first move is to be defensive and lash out.

We really thought you were better than that, because you preach the core of Tucson’s ethnic studies where ever you go. In Lak Ech (you are my other me), panche be (seeking the root of the truth), and most importantly, re-humanizing through a de-colonial anti-violent framework.

Wombyn have been accused of aiding the patriarchy that so demeans them. Articles published by allies are accused of irony as a deflection from the real problem. When other men step up and point out the macho bullshit that is frequently used by their brothers in every day dialogue, there is no comment from the perpetrator.

This type of hypocrisy is ill-informed and truly divisive.

The wisdom of wombyn allows the idea that generational oppression can take some of the blame for the indecencies that continue today. Boys are taught by men how to be men and how to be man is to not be woman. It is a vicious cycle that has been used as an excuse for the behavior of today, synonymous with the whites excuse for the treatment of peoples of color. The continued ignorance of the commonalities of these inequalities is astounding, considering white supremacy is a main topic of discussion of the good ol’ boys club. Tezcatlipoca is self-reflection. Practice what has been preached for so long, or learn to listen to others who’ve not had the privilege to continuously reflect and practice self and communal care.

We’re not asking much, besides our voice be respected, and we’re being polite. We should not have to ask for a place to speak when we were brought into this world to be the force that holds you in your place – our traditional role as caregivers, teachers, and mothers. We’re not asking for you to relinquish all that you’ve accomplished, we’re just asking that they stop using our backs as a platform to stand on while you rub our noses in what you won’t give us credit for.

We’re not your bitches.

We want the men in this movement to acknowledge all we have sacrificed to continue this struggle next to them, even though they have continued to walk in front of us. We want more than politically correct apologies. We want more than the discussion of May 3rd at a TUSD board meeting, the only macho documented injustice against wombyn that is supposed to serve as a deflection to a white man for what our brown brothers do to us every damn day. We want your unwarranted support, as we have given you ours. We loved you like sons, brothers, fathers and you have treated us like disposable objects. We are saying no more, and we mean it this time.

This is more than just a time-out.

This is us shoving a mirror in your fucking face and demanding you see who you really are.

Yes, we are being aggressive.

Yes, we are using force.

And yes, we are silencing you.

Please tell us, how does it feel?

The Fight for Ethnic Studies Beyond Heteropatriarchy and Male Privilege: a Call to Address & End Violence in all its Forms

By Raúl Alcaraz Ochoa | Tucson, Arizona | http://www.antifronteras.com

“Gender violence must be understood within larger systems of capitalism, settler colonialism, white supremacy, and heteropatriarchy… One of the major contradictions in political mobilization is that we often replicate the same hierarchical systems we claim to be dismantling. Gender violence is prevalent within progressive movements as it is in society at large.”

(Andrea Smith. “Introduction” The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities, pp. xiv-xv)

As Mexicano/Chicano born men, we come from a long legacy of beauty, but also one of colonization, gender violence, and resistance. As working-class brown cis-males (non-transgender men), we are oppressed through class and race, and those of us that identify as GBTQ (gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer), are oppressed through sexuality and gender as well. Within white supremacy, capitalism, and colonialism, we have been abused and victimized, and through male privilege, and the system of heteropatriarchy, we are perpetrators and abusers.

Heteropatriarchy (straight male supremacy) is all around us—in our personal/political lives. Whether it is in our homes and neighborhoods, and in movement-building in the struggle to defend Ethnic Studies, or to resist anti-migrant attacks such as SB 1070, (In)Secure Communities, or mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex, patriarchy and sexism are widespread.

As men we receive privilege from this system of oppression. The list of examples of privilege include (but are not limited to) our parents granting us more socializing freedom than our sisters and expecting less household chores, using offensive, demeaning or sexist language, employing street harassment and sexualized body language that objectifies others, dominating a meeting, group or effort and cutting off, questioning, or undermining female or LGBTQ leadership, using body language, damaging property, and raising voice to intimidate and assert power and control, battering or sexually assaulting the feminine-identified body—these are all are symptoms of a masculine & heterosexual-based system based on domination and aggression that gives masculinity (in its social, political, and cultural forms) power and privilege over anything not perceived as masculine.

One of the most prevalent manifestations of a heteropatriarchal system is the perpetuity of sexual violence. Historically, European colonizers used sexual violence as a primary tool of genocide. As Andrea Smith documents in Conquest: Sexual Violence & American Indian Genocide, “Colonizers have long tried to crush the spirit of the peoples they colonize and blunt their will to resist colonization. One of the most devastating weapons of conquest has been sexual violence.” To successfully rob indigenous lands and maintain the institution of slavery, gender and sexual violence was a central strategy of the colonizers and slave masters. From this (specifically gendered) systematic violence, the United States nation was born, and its legacy still felt and manifested today in interpersonal and internalized ways among oppressed groups.

Today, when gender violence takes place within activist/organizing communities of color, silence, denial, and organizational and community self-protection are common responses. We may feel that it is a personal matter that isn’t any of our business, or feel pressured to not “harm” the movement by “making it bigger and more public than it needs to be”. However, as Meiver De la Cruz & Carol Gomez write, adopting these stances is “where our movement breaks down and community accountability fails. Our silence and inaction give permission for violence to continue. We must then turn the mirror on ourselves and take a hard look at our own internalized oppressions that act as barriers to responding to domestic and sexual violence, and ask ourselves the tough questions:

· What is our collective responsibility to tackle this private and public conundrum?

· How do we hold ourselves and offenders in our circle accountable for abusive behavior?

· How do we unravel the emotional entanglements and ties that can either cloud or enhance our judgment?

· How do we take a stand?

· [How do we support the growth and transformation of both the survivor and perpetrator of violence?]

· How can communities prioritize domestic and sexual violence as an integral part of the social justice struggle?

· How do we move intimate violence from the private sphere and into the public light without feeling as if we are ‘betraying the cause’ or exposing our communities of color to dangerous public scrutiny and further oppression?” (1)

The truth is that the personal is political and the political is personal. In other words, home and the movement are one and the same. The foundation of our movimiento is both our personal relationships and our lived experiences and traumas. “The trauma we experience in private (whether at home or work) spills over into our community work, and often it either drives us or paralyzes us. [Therefore], it is impossible to respond to sexual violence, domestic violence, sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, and classism as isolated entities.” (1)

It is critical that we connect gender violence to other forms of oppression. We speak out and rally to condemn the cultural and institutional violence of the white supremacy we face from the State of Arizona, but when it comes to addressing and holding ourselves accountable to instances of gender violence in our own families and community, we retreat to denial, avoidance, or explicit enabling. As long as our community is incapable or unwilling to address male privilege, gender violence, and heteropatriarchy, our movement will be one that lacks community accountability, is led by abusers and enablers, and has failed to respect, prioritize, or validate the experiences of women. We cannot fight for Ethnic Studies or Migrant Justice, and at the same time turn a blind eye to the struggle and experiences of our own mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters, comrades, and partners.

“This is not a depoliticized call to focus on personal self-development instead of building movements to dismantle white supremacy, capitalism, and imperialism… [for] our movements to be successful they must prefigure the societies we seek to build. Movements must dispense the idea that we can worry about gender violence ‘after the revolution’, because gender violence is a primary strategy for white supremacy, colonialism, and capitalism. Heteropatriarchy is the logic by which all other forms of social hierarchy become naturalized. The same logic underlying the belief that men should dominate women on the basis of biology (a logic that presupposes a gender binary system) underlies the belief that the elites of a society naturally dominate everyone else. Those who are having an interest in dismantling settler colonialism, white supremacy, and capitalism must by necessity have a stake in dismantling heteropatriarchy.” (2)

To conclude, I encourage our community to create a safe and open space to consider the following questions:

1. What would a movement against white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, colonialism, and imperialism look like, centered around a gender and LGBTQ consciousness?

2. How do we employ a community strategy to address violence abuse or harm that creates safety, justice, reparations and healing, without relying on police, prisons, criminal justice courts, childhood protective services, or any other state systems?

3. How do we put at the center the experiences of both the individuals and communities involved, and the larger social conditions at work? How do we support both the personal growth of the survivor and perpetrator and at the same time make strides towards community and political transformation?

This is a callout to respect and believe the voices and experiences of survivors of gender violence.

This is a callout to stand in solidarity with women, children, and LGBTQ people by challenging our own male privilege and the system of heteropatriarchy.

This is a callout to make it clear that we do not accept, perpetuate, or enable domestic or sexual violence.

This is a callout to find solutions and processes in community accountability and transformative justice models.

This is a callout to trusting that survivors of gender violence know best, and that others (especially men) not try to guide their process of healing and guide women’s process of liberation, and that men follow the guidance of women in this struggle.

This is a callout to build healthy communities and movements that are safe, empowering, and liberatory for women, children, and LGBTQ people, because if we struggle from below and center our movimiento on those most oppressed, only then do we fight for true liberation for all. Only then will a revolution be truly for everyone.

Just as the Ethnic Studies Movement of Tucson, Arizona demands an end to cultural genocide and violence, this too is a callout, essentially, to address and seek to end violence in all its forms and manifestations. There should be nothing revolutionary or mind-blowing about a revolution that includes and humanizes us all.

Sources:

(1) Meiver De la Cruz & Carol Gomez. “Ending Oppression. Building Solidarity. Creating Community Solutions.” The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities, pp. 27-28.

(2) Andrea Smith. “Introduction” The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities, pp. xv