at the top of the mountain overlooking the valley
The city and all its people inside.
A skin tight black dress flowing flowing, breathing,
as she stares up to the cosmos and brings down her
clenched fists- and soon the sky burst forth and you heard
that first damning sound of thunder while the acidic scent
of moisture in contact with earth entered your nostrils,
as she cries out in pain,
“Bring on the storm!
I, simply known as Malinche, who rides the winds as swift
as justice, am opening up these vaults
of pure and utter chaos!”
Forever ripped apart to the seams by the fires of judgment,
silence and betrayal- she held up her staff and the
darkness roared as the murderous heavy clouds
made their way towards each and every individual
down below the valley.
Hearts panicked, breathing stopped, thoughts reconsidered-
Those who heard in the distance that tell-tale sign
of the coming storm.
this lonely, lost, little girl-
all by herself
Caused this anxiety in men among men
For the truth.
would eat everyone alive with her.
But silently- like an echo, like a kiss She sees the valley below and sees the deep shadows surrounding it,
deeper than her own.
Perversely anticipating that first rip.
Sticky, oozing, iron and uranium shadows.
that would strive off the chaos of the storm-
ride these winds untouched to later feast upon
the rotting carcass of this once vibrant community down
below the valley.
she lets go.
She flies. Away, away, away and beyond.
Her fabrics turn amber and her smile is that
of the sunset now- the most beautiful time of light
before it disappears to the night.
The mysterious, shifting, reinventing and forgiving night.
She is at peace with her mountain, with her valley
with her storm.
As the clouds slowly disperse
to welcome in a cleansing rain that soaked
into the minds of those with parched souls.
I didn’t believe my friend when she was raped.
The last few years in Tucson have been a struggle to survive. With the battles in our communities and legislation targeting brown people of color on indigenous land – we have nearly killed each other and the work and the fight and the fighting has made us all sick – susto. It deserves writing that will never end now that it has started. Through it all, I now reflect on two moments when I know I fucked up. I monumentally fucked up and hurt other women. When it first happened, she was and we all were sorting through statements and over ‘what does this mean to this movement’ shit. She may have at first said something(s) and later they changed which isn’t uncommon with sexual violence and doesn’t delegitimize what happened to her or her voice at any given moment. Sexual violence is haunting and what happened to me with a family member fifteen years ago took me almost a year to tell anyone about. My mom. She knew and never questioned me aloud, but my family raged in confusion. My grandparents led my smear campaign.
‘The divorce and custody battles were just really hard on her she has got to be making this up for attention. Her father, our son would never do this.’
But he did and I still can’t name it. I never filed a report, never told a counselor, I didn’t bring it up in custody hearings, and haven’t explained to my friends who insist that I masturbate but I DON’T FUCKING WANT TO because touching my naked body disgusts me (for a number of reasons) and I haven’t talked about it with anyone the way I go over it with myself. I’m sure it accounts for my inability to have physical intimacy, even hugs are uncomfortable when they’re unwanted and they’re usually unwanted.
After this past summer I even wondered if it’s why V couldn’t force a sexual connection or some shit with me. I questioned myself over and over.
The loneliness of something I can’t even verbalize that was happening in my subconscious made me suicidal about things I could verbalize and understand like break ups. So my moment of attempted overdose or short episode with antidepressants seem unusually common and associated with the moments they took place in but I’ve come to understand that I carry my trauma everyday regardless if I acknowledge it and it shapes my behavior and response.
When she said she was raped, she didn’t use that language, in those first days she didn’t say to me, “I was raped”. She told me and one of my best friends at the same time. I refuse to go over details of what was said and will limit my details because the space to go over this with all of us – belongs to her. Arguably some friends (a word that has become interchangeable to also include: community member, co-worker, social justice acquaintance) thought they probably just had sex, that some of what happened was consensual and she didn’t want to follow through with it and so it was date rape, which apparently isn’t rape-rape in our disgusting shaming language for those who drink alcohol or like to fuck. There is nothing wrong with liking to have sex. We were all friends, all us comadres, going through a lot of shit in Arizona – we deserved to get dressed super cute and go out for drinks. There were nights we drank A LOT. I was going through a break up and thought I was going to die, as usual. Reflecting on the time we had as comadres, a tight inseparable group, it forever transformed me. My home girls, mujeres, had my back and I mostly healed that break up and got through it because of them and jäger bombs. We always took care of each other, took cabs, three or more of us, had our usual spots, and didn’t fuck around with guys. We went together and left together and slept over at each other’s places. On “Chican@ prom night”, a huge night for our community, it was different. We didn’t carefully plan our night besides our outfits; we’d be with hundreds of our friends and community members. I suppose we assumed we’d be safe. That there was no way something could happen to any of us around movement men we worked with. We didn’t plan designated drivers or anything like that, the night was predictable except for the predatory behavior of one, who now, obviously had a plan for his night.
We all went to a film premiere and then to a local bar for drinks and dancing. He was a creep. He was drunk and sloppy and grabbing on women half his age, he wanted to dance; he wanted to celebrate and be the center of attention. Women’s attention. I left before they did. We asked around about rides and getting people home and left.
In the next two days I found out something went intolerably wrong, and I didn’t know what to think of it all. There were talking circles and whispers and meetings and time moved slowly but it also went quickly. Inescapably slow and quick, so I have a hard time remembering each day. I think for the most part there were young women who never believed her (and still don’t), young women who always have, and those of us who thought nothing at all — who wanted to be neutral.
Neutral on rape.
The privilege of not knowing what to do and checking out. Checking out was easy. There was so much work to do as usual. Subtlety, my best friend and I combined the work we had been doing with work that needed to be done along lines of gender and sexual violence. She was more on point than I was (usually) and I basked in her energy and kind of said “fuck off” to everything else.
A month later after some unnecessary drama, I chose to think what everyone else in Tucson seemingly thought and I pulled the same shit my grandparents had done to me and like my former male teachers and people I looked up to, my only concern was Ethnic Studies. What does this mean for our comunidad, our fight? In my eyes, she did something that allowed for me to minimize her almost instantly and we fought over email exchanges that were cc’d to other young folks and that was that. I was Team Ethnic Studies (how the fuck did that happen and why wasn’t I just team myself?).
Folks around the country would call me as a respectable mujer and ask if they could show the film to raise money, they heard there was controversy and wanted to hear it from me. I would call one of my teacher/mentor from the movement and let them know and usually my answer was “yes– Yes, if I were you I’d show the movie.” I’m really struggling now with how sick it all sounds because it was all sick. But I was willing to do anything for Ethnic Studies, ANYTHING. I would’ve then and I will do as much now as long as I’m not negotiating anyone’s dignity in the process.
I remember when he called me, from Save Ethnic Studies, in a panic. He knew then the power I held so he manipulated me and convinced me she was enemy #1.
I’m just a man and I have no say in this, but you’re trucha and if she gets this around, she has eighty some page report on our community. This will destroy us.
Of course he needed me to engineer a solution, a way to exploit young people in the name of social justice education. And I was a pawn in this modern nationalist epic novel. I could be the down ass trucha home girl who was loyal to her Raza, gets arrested, cooks comida, works with the young students and is never mentioned in a history book twenty years from now. This is all so romantic to a young organizer. And I loved everyone involved in this fucked up mess. I even sat down with two women I thought would jump me with words, one being the perpetrator’s partner (I realize I haven’t mentioned that yet, yes he had/s a partner which complicated the situation even further) and tried being – neutral. When we met, she gave me a gift, a fox and chocolates. My friends told me not to do it; she wanted me to be a bridge. I am a bridge in so many ways, I understand that. If I could make peace I would but only recently have I realized that I can’t now and I couldn’t then. Even if my education taught me that I could change the world, I can’t take on every task or every hit that comes my way.
But I still did. I tried to organize a meeting with everyone at the table – all the comadres at least. Like, ‘let’s sorts this out as women.’ I was still in this mentality like it was a women’s job, my job, to sort through shit, find what was good and exemplify behavior for our community. I do this now, but I also do shit that exemplifies anger and lust and human shit. And CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW it’s not just my job to give a shit because I’m identified as a woman? So in the end, this was all silenced. She went away, literally – she moved out-of-state and out of the country and slowly the whispers became softer and softer. Our community dragged itself forward but this became the norm for all of us. Everything that happened then and since deserves endless words and stories or lessons for future generations and this generation right now.
During Freedom Summer, organizing became mundane and everyday. There were moments of hope and of accomplishing what we once had but what happened and was silenced will also be told.
I had a long emotional affair that was overdue to become physical and at summer time it did. When I kissed V I thought of my friend. In feeling like a slut – it was the same friend who named us both sluts after all, I would think of her. I would also think of his girlfriend. My political analysis of what we owe one another shifted in moment’s time. When he tried to fuck me when we were drunk it was because over all of this that I was able to know anything at all about consent and that I can change my mind. I CAN CHANGE MY MIND. When I’m drunk or he’s drunk or I can change my mind whenever the fuck I want. Or I can say no or I can say yes to this and no to that and seriously HE JUST SHOULDN’T HAVE TRIED WHEN I WAS DRUNK to begin with.
L and C are now my friends. I think.
L and I had lunch, she poured over journals and emails and texts. We spent a day together too, she’s been around now. It makes me feel alive. It is because of her resilience and resistance that I gather the will to act. When I hug her I don’t understand how she even lets me touch her. Hug her, to be around her glowing smile or share words with me… words to share with any of us.
C, she came to an event recently, she donated ten dollars to malintZINE. She hugged me. I thought her text messages were strategy, to get me to have lunch with her, so she can rip me apart, deservingly, although that’s never been her style. If she wanted to give me a regañada, I would sit and answer whatever she needed me to for her healing. She said she respects me still. I don’t understand. I lent her a book. My copy of Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her.
“The half life of love is forever”
Maybe these things mean not much to anyone other than myself; possibly them. I have and will continue to reflect on these past few years and my own behavior. It is through my reflection that I need to account for what has happened and document. Accountability to me is speaking my truth. Acknowledging the ways in which I can and need to grow. Responsibility is challenging myself to behave in ways that will cause growth to happen. I have a responsibility to L and C to do work from here on that moves towards – NEVER AGAIN. It wasn’t through ethnic studies that I learned in lak ech, tu eres mi otro yo. But through two ethnic studies alumni, both younger than me, who offered me forgiveness and room to grow. Creating some Chicana girl code of accountability and responsibility. To taking care of each other and never assuming anyone else will. To loving other women and loving yourself.
Here’s the thing — a little more clarification is necessary since it seems that the confusion continues.
First of all — this is not a competition for fans or views or reads. When we set out to launch malintZine on December 21, 2012 we had a vision of offering an anonymous space for women to speak their truths. Truths that had been silenced for too long. MalintZine has been and will continue to be a radically safe space that will ferociously protect the anonymity of our authors. But malintZine and her authors are not just the women who you’ve seen in photographs — we’re everywhere!! Indeed this space has been used to call men on the mat for their straight up bullshit and specific instances of fucked-upedness, but it has also been a safe space for sharing experiences than span the spectrum from fear to rape. We were not under the impression that the presence of our truths would come easily for anyone involved including ourselves. The truth tears down barriers, destroy relationships and bring others together. While we might have hoped otherwise, personal attacks were expected.
Since December 21, 2012 malintZine has grown into a larger community than we could have imagined that stretches from LA to Colorado, New York and Baltimore with a strong core of amazing mujeres in Tucson.
We were honored and blessed to have participated in and hosted events in the last week in Los Angeles and in Tucson. We were invited to speak in Maylei Blackwell’s class and sit on a panel with Maylei and Anna Nieto Gomez. In 1971 M.E.Ch.A held a mock funeral procession that was a ritualized attempt to kill Las Hijas de Cuactemoc. They carried caskets and walked with candles to a makeshift graveyard with gravestones for Hijas leaders and a lynched effigy of Anna Nieto Gomez (with her name inscribed). It was an honor to meet Anna, who stood up to the misogynistic Chicano leaders of her time, and a humbling privilege to sit beside her on the panel.
On Friday March 8th we had the pleasure of hosting Andrea Smith for a powerful discussion about accountability with well over 150 people in attendance followed by a launch party that brought together the community of malintZine readers, authors and editors. The ability to have the physical manifestation of the safe space that had been created online at malintzine.com was quite the event. There were poetry readings, zines, and plenty of music. Yes, there was a piñata and yes it was male bodied and yes we beat it with a stick until tamarindo, chamoy, lube and condoms gushed out. Yes, a drag king who resembled Three Sonorans attended the party and photos that have since been made public were taken. Three Sonorans has become the living embodiment of contemporary chingon politics. By his own doing, DA Morales has turned himself into a caricature of a 50-year history of misogynistic one-sided Chicano Movement narrative that holds its male leaders in blameless esteem. Herein lies the point — maltinZine was created to counter the continuation of that narrative and on Friday night we celebrated.
And finally, we expect that you will continue your personal attacks on our motherhood, on our loyalty, on our motives, on our writing skills, on our education or lack of education, on our age, on our perceived sexuality, on our children and on our character — but your attacks don’t blight the truth. You may know who we are but you should also know that we are not going away. If there is a month where you cease to spew your false problematic narratives — we will be happy to keep your name of our blog (maybe!).
malintZINE accepts submissions!
For more photos of March 8th’s International Womyn’s Day events hosted by malintZINE click HERE!
‘I shouldn’t have to hide who I am.
This is my reality- this is my truth.
Just my presence alone brings with it the entire weight of the mistakes of the Movement and the reason why true liberation has not yet been achieved.
So my truth now becomes your truth.’ This tragedy alone has morphed me into a new being. Like the violent hacking of the wood, the splintering and breaking apart of its body- for all to watch in deep fascination-
when that metal blade slices into the once piece of forest.
Over and over again.
That piece of wood- birch wood- in its painful alteration from one being to another, thought the knife was deforming her as she’s cut, and cut, and cut. But when she opened her eyes after the agony was finally all over, she looked down upon herself and saw she was now a beautiful kachina doll.
A butterfly maiden.
And soon her Creator painted colors on her base; vibrant, deep and fluorescent.
She looked at the new world around her in amazement as she sat in the sun to let her colors dry.
Some of her hues were dark- to represent all the past pains done on her body that morphed her into this new figure.
And bright- to represent all the days in her future, for she has survived the hardship and is still here to see another sunrise.
After she dried the woodcarver breathed life into her.
And then she flew away.
By Anna NietoGomez, Coughing Woman
Custom was that violence against women was private and should not be talked about in public. The women’s rights movement changed all that, and violence against women became a public discussion. Women demanded that they have the right to be safe at home, at work and at play. Traditionalists ignored this challenge, blamed the woman for the violence done against her and took no action.
Then women told their stories. First they began the telling with friends and family, but nothing changed. The story was forgotten, and violence against women continued. Then the telling became public. The telling increased from a solo, to a chorus, from a community to a nation. The telling were stories of all kinds of violence against women, sex exploitation, sexual harassment, rape and physical abuse.
The telling raised awareness that women are not safe, and when women are not safe, the family is not safe. The telling organized a larger agreement that women have the right to be safe in the home, at work and at play. The telling became political when the nation heard the same stories told by so many different women all over the country. Once the telling became political, laws were passed to protect women from violence. But laws are not enough. Courageous Mujeres created MalintZINE, a 21st century feminist magazine for mujeres of all kinds!
It told the story of violence against women in Tucson and of their efforts to stop it. Mujeres voiced to the community leaders that violence against women made community activism a hostile and unsafe place to be. Mujeres asked their leaders to condemn and help stop the violence against women.
But the leaders did nothing, they said the complaints were a nuisance. The leaders didn’t want to know what the women thought or said. They contended that the role of the Mujer was to be seen and not heard, to look pretty and to please the men at night. The leaders said stop complaining, there are more important things we have to do. They told the women to return to work. Lets work together so that Hombres are equal to Gavachos.
The leaders explained that the role of the Mujer was to make the men look good. It was disloyal to complain and air their dirty laundry in public. The leaders said hush, act right! Stop telling these stories, or we may lose the gains that have been made.
The Mujeres said, “Remember Penn State”. Those leaders ignored complaints of violence against students. The leaders perceived the complaint to be the problem, not the perpetrator. They knew the perpetrator and he was good for their program. The leaders agreed, the program was more important than any violence against students.
So the leaders lied to themselves and said they did not receive the complaints. Each time they heard the crowd cheer and basked in their glory, the leaders lied again, “We did the right thing”. So the perpetrator committed violence against students over and over again. And It was unsafe to play.
But the story was not forgotten because there were many more new stories to tell, and finally the telling became public, and the nation heard. Then there were consequences. But the crowd booed at the telling, “It’s a lie. Our leaders made us great, we owe them. Don’t take them away. Who cares what happened to the students.”
The program was not destroyed. Finally the perpetrator and the leaders who covered it up were removed. They longer enjoyed the glory. Again the Mujeres told their leaders, “Remember Penn State, this could happen to you.”
But the leaders refused to learn the lesson. They knew the perpetrators. They were good for the business of civil rights which brought fame, money and jobs. The leaders agreed, the business of civil rights is more important than violence against women. They said nothing, and did nothing. The leaders denied that sexual harassment was bullying, and pretended it validated women’s self worth. They expected women to provide sexual favors for the leaders and their male network. And women got something in return, they were envied for being pretty and desired and they got a free dinner to boot. Women who resisted or complained were discredited as disloyal and crazy. The Mujeres were ostracized, and shunned and feared losing their jobs.
The leaders told the Mujeres: The woman is to blame when she is raped. Change your behavior. If women do not want to be raped, stay home and do not go to play. Don’t drink alcohol, don’t wear short skirts or plunging neck lines.
The leaders did nothing to stop violence against women. They advised: ” Prove your loyalty to the movement, go home, forget about, and come back to work another day.” “It never happened if you don’t have a police report.” “No one will believe you, you’re promiscuous, we know your history.” “Have pity of the rapist, think of the violence against men.” “Don’t criminalize men of color”.
Without consequences, nothing changes, and violence against women remains normal. But Tucson is different . The Mujeres told friends and family, nothing changed, but it was not forgotten. Mujeres created malintZINE to tell their stories. The telling became public. The telling increased from a solo, to a chorus, from a community to a nation. The telling raised awareness that it is not safe for women to be a community activist. Some threaten Mujeres with lawsuits if they do not stop the telling. But the Mujeres persist. With the telling comes support, and allies who will help them make the community safe for women. What do they want? Public support to stop violence against women. A public apology for failing to provide a safe environment for women. A public statement of men acknowledging that gender violence work is men’s work too! Men’s compliance with a code of behavior that respects women’s rights and allows women to live in a safe environment. Social, as well as legal consequences to those who act out violence against women.