Calling upon the Chicano Pope to Reflect

How was the Chicano Pope chosen? Did I miss the anointment ceremony? The Chicano Pope proudly grinds the biggest axe to attack those who do not heed his mandates and demand for complicity. This is a call for the Chicano Pope to thoughtfully engage in the issue of accountability.  After all, it was the Chicano Pope who wrote, “What is so frustrating about politics is that there is so little accountability. We can continually screw up as my students would say and are not accountable. Because we as a society are ahistorical, we are unable to sort out the lies that our leaders tell us or correct our own errors…The biggest obstacle to furthering a Chicano, Latino, or anything you want to call it agenda is a lack of accountability.” Wise words but is the Pope exempt from heeding them?

The Chicano Pope feigns objectivity and freely admits that “In times like these I have found myself trying too hard, and becoming a motivational speaker instead of a teacher, relying on what some may call hyperboles to make my point.” He also proclaims that he is “protective of the legacy of the sixties.” Is the Chicano Pope trying to suppress intellectual inquiry that does not fit into his hero making narratives?  Are the accusations that Reies López Tijerina molested one of his children off limits? Or does this history not matter?  A few months ago the Chicano Pope openly encouraged us to embrace another “martyr” by boasting, “Based on my reading of history the stock of Sean Arce will reach epic levels. If he were living in California or Texas there would have been at least a half dozen corridos (ballads) written about him.”  The Chicano Pope has been silent on this issue, why?

Maybe the Pope “dreads” going to NACCS in San Antonio because for the last two years he has used the organization to peddle charlatan leaders who silenced and threatened those who disagreed in Tucson. Or does this history not matter?  People donated to ethnic studies and defense funds because the Chicano Pope had blessed these fundraising efforts.  Are these organizations going to offer yearly reports that detail where all the funds were spent?  The Chicano Pope asked us to donate to these causes and held the collection basket in his hands as he blessed those who reached into their pockets. Where is the accountability?

The Chicano Pope has made it clear that, “If people would be held accountable, this would put people on notice.”  Chicano Pope, this is your notice.  You have sold Chican@s short and out.  The paper trail you leave in this lifetime grows each time you lead the Chicano choir in nationalist hymns and engage in perverted reasoning aimed at silencing dissent in order to achieve a “Wonderful Life.”  What you offer is delusion.

Stop using smoke and mirrors to encourage ignorance and to discourage deeper examinations into shameful, antifeminists and homophobic histories. Stop casting stones against your CSU Northridge colleagues, NACCS and anyone who disagrees with you. And, realize that you do not have the power to dictate where outrage should be directed. This message is also a call for the Chicano Pope to examine his conscience. Stop seeking conformity.  Embrace new ways of thinking and listen to youth instead of preaching to them. This is hard to hear because your narcissism gets in the way, but Chican@ Studies will not crumble if you retire. New forms and people will step in and build on what it is and once was.  And, yes, it might even be better. Don’t be a Chicano Pope who presses for the conservative and traditional.

Step aside.

It is time.

Take It All Back

Women with the courage to fight taught me how to take it all back
Your rape cannot take my pleasure
Your hate cannot take my love
You war cannot take my peace
Your ignorance can not dull my light
My voice calls out and is echoed
We come together
bound in women-centered community
We are safe because we promote women as leaders in all sectors
and live as leaders
Leaders who know their strengths
Leaders who turn to community for support when we are weak
We stand together and up in all our actions
Our lives lived and daily choices are our protest…
We are safer together in the streets than our own homes
We confront violence and subjugation
Through this willful confrontation we create society that values
truth, courage, compassion, effort, equality, and safety
Your rape cannot take my pleasure
Your hate cannot my love
Your war cannot take my peace
Your ignorance will not dull my light
Together we take it all back

Anonymous is a Woman

Why do (some) people keep complaining that those of us writing original work for this blog are choosing to remain anonymous? Why are you so uncomfortable? Is it a problem because we don’t need credit for our words? Are you disturbed because our egos don’t need stroking with pats on the back and high-fives? Does it bother you to not have a specific target to aim at when you disagree? Are you afraid that it’s your sister, your girlfriend, your mother who’s writing — and you don’t know?

We speak collectively because of our politics. We do not claim authorship for each individual piece because our experiences are shared by many women. We are creating safety for ourselves and our sisters by speaking our truth. We are unnamed because we are everywhere. You should assume that every single piece that has been published so far was written by a different woman. That’s a lot of voices rising in unity!

The other day, I heard someone call this “K’s blog.” Well, it’s not K’s blog, or A’s blog, or B’s blog. Dozens of women — an entire alphabet of mujeres — have already contributed, and a collective is staffing the submissions email addy, the Twitter feed, the FB page, and the Tumblr. This is not the work of one woman, no matter how awesome she may be. This is the work of many, and we are moving like wildfire, burning away patriarchal debris and illuminating a woman-centered landscape.

Just so you know — I’m not a member of the editorial collective, and my view on why anonymity is important may resonate with them, but it may not. You don’t know who I am, your assumptions are probably wrong, and you don’t have any say about what is going on here. You can’t bully us, and you can’t beat us. But you should definitely listen to us.

Why malintZINE?: A Letter From Your Editors

One Zapatista philosophy says that a community should move as quickly as its slowest member. When people first see me, many falsely assume I’m that slowest member. Within the United States our language, our economy and our norms are part of a legacy of conquest that pushes me to that abject space—a place in society, in our communities, in our homes—that few embrace, initially anyways. I limped through the margins, silently fearful and with the world’s weight on my preadolescent, adolescent, early adulthood’s shoulders. The veil was in place, and I couldn’t have dreamed an alternate reality; this is life, and I am powerless. Or so I thought.

I needed that authority, college, to begin lifting the bandana situated over my eyes. Fuck, I’m so privileged. I needed those “experts” to tell me good job and validate my queer, my krip, my brown, my poor, my violated existence. No teacher ever pushed me to think of myself as powerful. My mama, tias, primas, Yaya, and sister validated me all my life—but their opinions didn’t matter though because our concerns came second, third, or never. Mentors—brown, poor, (dis)Abled, rich, white, hetero, queer, abled, angry, abused, tired, frustrated, powerful—people took my hand and pulled me from the outskirts, walked me to the podium, and told me my voice mattered.

Theory in the Flesh. The Personal IS Political. Your Voice Matters. You Are Unique and You Are Alike. It’s Okay to Dwell en La Frontera.

And I learned how to be powerful. I learned what power is. I learned that I have an important place en el mundo. And I will keep learning.

MalintZINE is an open space where that “slowest” community member can shout out, “slow down and wait for me” and the community stops to listen to that individual’s needs. The community does not try to throw out excuses for the community’s (in)actions, justify its too-fast pace, or ignore that individual. In fact, many within the community are thankful that the brave “slow one” spoke up and expressed a need or needs because others within that community were too scared, too intimidated, too hesitant, too unsure to speak up themselves. MalintZINE limps along with me declaring that it’s okay to slow down. It’s good to voice your concerns, needs, dreams, and desires.

She is a space where mujeres all over the world can feel validated and safe from ridicule, rejection, or retaliation.

Our Voices Matter.

Nuestras Herstoria es Importante.

Contigo.

To the community in Tucson Arizona, Los Angeles, all community activists, and artists in resistance:

It is our intention to support by building and mending bridges, to begin a healing process and to address the concern/issue of Olmeca crossing boundaries from mentor to mentee with women in Tucson Arizona. We a group of community members from Los Angeles write this letter with the intention of being transparent, inclusive, and accountable to the larger community as we share this process which is coming to a closure.

*We want to take this moment to clarify the process as it relates to the concern.

*Although we’ve faced challenges and a bit of communication struggle, the process was a call to duty and we chose to work through this process out of respect for the community we work with. In addition, this process in all its forms was a necessary step for bringing closure regardless of its length.

* In addition to Olmeca’s situation, this experience and collective process has helped everyone involved by reflecting on our understanding of roles in positions as leaders, educators, organizers, and artists. Through this process we developed agreements amongst the participants that we hope we can adopt as a group and serve as an example for others who relate to this experience. Although we have not finalized these, we are working collectively to holding ourselves accountable to revisit and agree to follow them.

* We want to refute any rumors and misconceptions that have arisen.

*Because the process has been difficult, we acknowledge those community members who decided to be part of this process and want to honor them and thank everyone who came together. Overall, we recognize that this is for the well being of our community here in Los Angeles and that of Tucson, Arizona.

*With that said, we would like to share the process resulting from these dialogues:  

The process took place for over a period of 1 year and ½.  Initially, there were internal phone calls, dialogues, and e-mails in three occasions before a larger circle was invited to participate to dialogue that included a larger community of artists, community organizers, teachers, and other leaders:

1. Address it with the people involved.

2. Decide to sit with your community and create a safe space. We decided that it would be best to create the two safe spaces. One for each side affected. Then one larger space for the community to come together and share their piece. Since this issue took place in Tucson, Two spaces were created in Arizona and two spaces in Los Angeles.

3. We acknowledge that after several attempts of wanting to resolve this issue in a healthy way, Olmeca’s intention to put an end to rumors and misconceptions and answer any questions resulted in him calling the last meeting by inviting community to a collective process where he later agreed to participate in whatever process the community would agree too.

4. Four rounds of dialogue occurred, beginning with a recount of what happened, and people’s personal feelings about it. It is important to note that participants prepared themselves knowing that this would be a difficult process.

5. Although we realize that this is ongoing, our last meeting brought closure to a community process by simply listening. This allowed some to heal, purge and let go of emotions, ill feelings, and counterproductive comments to move forward and bring forth this statement.

6. While this is an ongoing process, we acknowledge that Olmeca has gone through an internal process to address the issue such as going to counseling, not going to Tucson, and overall taking a step back from organizing and participating in doing shows in relation to Ethnic Studies.

7. As part of the process of moving forward and closure, Olmeca has recently been invited to continue working with community at Tucson Arizona.

In the following section, Olmeca shares his reflection as it relates to the issue/struggle:

This is about my wrong doings…about losing sight of ones role in the community and failure to see ones position of privilege. This is about how we can disrespect each other as men and women and individuals in a community that is striving to create a space of rebellion and healing. As people of color in the struggle we are constantly under attack.  So, this is about correcting the wrong, amending the heart, and ensuring we walk together thru a process so that we don’t perpetuate the problem or leave room for outsiders to further instigate.

My disregard for my role in the community during this time and my position in the community placed a burden on muxeres in Tucson, the community in struggle in Tucson and my own in Los Angeles.  Although, I did not cross sexual boundaries, I crossed the boundaries as a mentor and community leader and disrespected boundaries in a community space.

Understanding the impact of my actions, I have been reflecting and participating in collective reflection to ensure those affected are respected as the healing process continues.

For the 1st year or so, I took a step back from creating music, writing and networking. I went to independent counseling to get deeper understanding and reflect on my actions. Throughout the process I sought dialogues to reflect and get a perspective from close relatives who were affected and who had heard of the issue.  I went to Tucson and met with the muxeres directly. We made agreements.  They included; not performing for Ethnic Studies; seeking counseling and not participating in Tucson or spaces where some of the women affected may be present. Honoring those agreements, I also opted out of participating in anything having to do with Ethnic Studies.  Even if we agreed that fundraising was okay, my participation in fundraising didn’t keep people from asking questions or questioning whether or not they should be involved. It was better for me to opt-out of that work than to jeopardize it by participating.

At the same time, there were heavy misconceptions about my actions and they needed to be addressed. I called for community dialogues in L.A. to listen to the community’s concerns, feelings about the issue. My family was also affected. I realized that my doings didn’t grant degradation to my character at this level or humiliation to my family or those who were participating in this process.

Dialogues with my community in L.A. have been medicine both for myself and the community as a whole.  The muxeres in Tucson have been thru a lot and I am humbled by their process.  They held me accountable and I have nothing else to do, but grow as a man, community member and honor their palabra.  I hope that thru this process, we can all continue to gain knowledge about ourselves and grow stronger as a community in struggle.

This statement is to address community who has either been affected by this issue or have misconceptions or misinterpretations in regards to the issue. The women in Tucson have acknowledged this process and welcome Olmeca back into their community. We would like to note that this closure is still in process and ask that those involved in this process not be asked to delve into details and allow for closure to take place here in Los Angeles and in Tucson.

We reiterate and acknowledge that agreements were created out of the community dialogue. Therefore, we also want to honor the process that was created. Having shared the reflection and the end of the process, we ask community to refute misconceptions, support the process in Tucson and Los Angeles and respect Olmeca’s participation in this process.

We hope all those who read this honor the pain of the muxeres affected in Tucson, and in their choice to not remain silent or be silenced as it was difficult, emotional and an issue that was imposed on them.  The community of Tucson, Arizona, including the muxeres, youth, and teachers share this difficult experience and it is important for our community to acknowledge and learn from it.

With respect,

Community of Los Angeles

*This came about because in July of 2010 while in Tucson with Olmeca, myself along with my compañera and another artist discovered that, Olmeca was attempting to start relations with one of the young mujeres from a Tucson student group SJEP, that Olmeca was asked to speak too, serve as a mentor and be an example for. We confronted Olmeca about it that night and asked him to quit what he was doing. Upon returning to Los Angeles we received news that he was also having inappropriate conversations and making disrespectful advances torwards two other young mujeres from the same student group. Once again we confronted him about this in late August, 2010. After a long heated meeting we made acuerdos that night in which we asked him and he agreed to respect the mujeres’ space and time of healing and allow them the opportunity to address this situation with their community, peers and Ethnic Studies staff. Within two week’s time he broke those acuerdos, placed the 3 young women and their peers in much more difficult situations, added further stress to a community that was already burdened by the Ethnic Studies struggle. From that point forward I choose to confront this openly, without a template to address these kinds of issues of men in power, overstepping boundaries and abusing power dynamics in their best interest. I made mistakes in not addressing this in a much more open platform, but that happens when individuals are trying to silence things “for the good of the movement”. Regardless no matter what repercussions we suffered along with loss of friendships here in LA, blacklisting or whatever resulting effects came of us addressing Olmeca’s actions, I stand behind holding him accountable to not only his disrespectful actions towards the 3 young mujeres but also the stress and burden he added to the community of Tucson.