Do you all realize what has happened?
Photos, films and still life displays are being favored over the living, breathing human individuals themselves.
These captured moments in time – immortalized forever – reminding us of the “good old days” when everyone could actually work and function together for a more just and historically accurate education, one that represented us all. These frozen and professionally edited images take us back to a nostalgic time, back to when we once respected each other, when we once felt safe around one another, back to when we once trusted each other.
We go back and reminisce because currently those sentiments no longer exist.
In the Tucson Ethnic Studies community in the year 2013 that is gone now.
And rather than work hard and attentively to regain back what has been lost with honesty, humility, dignity and a sense of moral values we cling on to physical objects that allow us an escapist type sense of comfort; looking to the past, obsessing with the past, fetishizing the past.
As if the present and future growth of this community is no longer important.
I don’t want to be part of any movement that uses disillusionment as a coping mechanism to unacknowledged and unresolved forms of gender violence.
What a waste of energy that must be, to uphold a glossy paper and roll of film movement – a voiceless shadow movement toured around the country rather than upholding the actual local community base itself that is absolutely hurting right now.
That is not building, that’s just showcasing to unaware spectators all of our faces that are no longer present, our mouths that are no longer open, and our eyes that no longer see truth.
Bloggers at the Three Sonorans have, again, pointed fingers of accusation at Chicanas of Tucson. It seems that we (and a few men) are responsible for divisiveness within the community, for accusing rapists and misogynists of their crimes, for calling out the men and women of the Chican@ community for their hypocrisy and machismo and for demanding that Precious Knowledge be abandoned as a source of financial support by Save Ethnic Studies because a victim of crime directly involved with the film asked that it be so. And this is a bad thing?
Underlying the blogger’s concerns over a current issue involving copyrights, profiting and local artists is a broiling anger towards Chicanas who insist upon speaking about the inequities and injustices that they have experienced from within the community movement. And again, the blogger persists in attacking the accusers rather than naming the crimes and acknowledging that these problems exist. We do not pretend to know his motivations, and they don’t really matter. What is relevant is that he continues to imply that a woman’s concerns are not valid unless they have been legitimated by the community and, in this case, the men of the community. The blogger points his angry finger at Chicana feminists as the problem, though he willingly admitted in a recent post that he knows little about feminism.
Contrary to what Three Sonorans suggests, leaving the Chicano movement behind is not a tenant of Chicana feminism (aka Xicanisma). Xicanisma, as both an academic discipline and way of life, did not originate because Chicanas were so enamored with “White” feminism that we decided to create the “Brown” version. Nor are we so feeble-minded that we cannot think for ourselves and our communities. Our studies are grounded in the commitment to our communities, our ancestors, and our children. Our actions are rooted in the knowledge that real progress does not occur unless and until the needs and concerns of all members of a community are addressed.
Believe it or not, Xicanisma developed as a response to the persisting efforts of academics and activists of all colors–including White feminists– to keep us silent. Chicanas—and all women of “Latina” heritage– continue to encounter these efforts to silence. It is nothing new to us, our mothers and grandmothers often prepare us for it, so we know from the time we are small this is something we have to face. We also know that if we are going to ever change anything, we have to continue to fight those efforts, even when they are coming from within our own communities.
The bloggers at Three Sonorans would do well to brush up on Xicanisma before further attacking it and the men and women who support it. They may be surprised to learn that it too draws upon Indigenous knowledge to promote equity and justice for men and women. We know that our Nahua traditions do not just speak of Quetzalcoatl but of our female energies too, such as Xochitl, Coatlicue, and Tonantzin. We know that our ancestors sought the counsel of the women before war. We know that women were speakers, leaders, healers, and artists. We know that there was a time when men and women honored one another and stood up for that. We work to live those traditions and teach them to our children. And try as they might, no one will silence us in those efforts.
A suggested reading list for Three Sonorans for an introduction to Xicanisma—we’ve thrown in some Indigenous knowledge too for good measure. (Note that writings by these authors too contain precious knowledge): Gloria Anzaldua, Ana Castillo, Cherrie Moraga, Emma Perez, Antonia Castañeda, Chela Sandoval, Alma Garcia, Sandra Cisneros, Michelle Seros, Aida Hurtado, Gabriela Arrendondo, Sonia Saldivar-Hull, Alicia Garcia del Gaspar, Norma Alarcon, Tey Diana Rebolledo, Vicki Ruiz, Carla Trujillo, Andrea Smith, Paula Gunn Allen, Leslie Marmon Silko, Wilma Mankiller.
I have played a spectator role with the Tucson machismo circus that has taken place for a series of months. I have watched this so-called “beef” created by men stating that man-haters are after them, and care more about taking an online blogger down rather than focusing on reviving Ethnic Studies. Let me break down some consciousness for you, DA, the fight to bring back Ethnic Studies begins with you. The problem here is patriarchy, and your failure to recognize your volatile actions within your “community.” As a self-ascribed journalist, you praise men like Sean Arce and place them on a pedestal for being the “face” of a movement. You ignore writing about any women, unless it is for your convenience. As a blogger, you pick and chose what topics you wish to write about and cover up realities such as domestic violence cases committed by these Chicano “idols.” Why are you so pissed off that a group of women have gathered together and created their own blog that calls out your bullshit? Are you afraid because their words are true? Or is it because the narratives that these womyn tell discredit your news articles? I can see it from New York: you’re scared. You are doing the same thing that the state is doing, you’re censoring true histories. As a self-ascribed journalist you are expected to write the “real” stories and narratives according in our communities, right? Then why do you fail to include the whole truth, and constantly use your media platform to bash empowered women who threaten your narrative? Censorship, false histories, and distorted realities are exactly the same bullshit we see in the history books, and the reason the Arizona State Legislature banned Ethnic Studies. They, like you, fear the truth. They fear the real histories and personal narratives of people of color because it threatens white supremacy and it threatens the patriarchal system which you all fight to keep intact. You may not be white by DNA, but your actions and behavior sure the fuck are. You threaten women, censor women, and wish to continue to dominate the struggle with your macho bullshit. Tell me, DA, how are your actions different from those who hold patriarchal powers like your nemesis (I should say your equal) Huppenthal? You both have attacked a minority community because you fear them taking power. Any power that a womyn of color possesses through her words are a threat to your masculinity.
This morning I looked at my news feed and saw your post, “In Celebration of May, Moon, Mothers, and Womyn.” I thought that you finally got it, I believed you had turned over a new leaf—I was wrong. Your post made me angry at your underlying attacks on women through this contradictory essay that is ostensibly geared at honoring women, the life givers. Not only do you continue to use your hetero-nornative approach within your blog, your bullshit machismo rants overpower the original reason you supposedly wrote this post— to honor the mujer. You are so scared, extremely scared, of Malinztine. You are scared of them because they are pointing that smoking mirror right back at you and showing you the real perception of who you are: a sad, pathetic man who only has machismo and a blog to hold on to.
Within your blog you mention that your partner is Chicana, bilingual, has family on both side of the border, and is, or was, poor. Sorry to burst your bubble, DA, but I am also a Xicana, poor, bilingual, with family on both sides of the border—as are many other Chicanas. You celebrate your partner’s struggles and fail to recognize the struggles of her peers, the women of Malinztine. Just a couple of months ago I remember you posting a status that attacked a single mother, who is Chicana, and is in poverty. Why did you choose to attack this woman and choose to honor another when both have the same histories and struggles? Oh, I get it: you got to penetrate one of them; therefore it is ok to show love for that woman while disrespecting the rest of us who carry the same personal experience. Let me teach you something that you might have chosen not to consider in ethnic studies books — you are full of patriarchy and hella full of shit. How dare you write a blog where you seek to reconcile your differences with women in Tucson and then slap them in the face with your sexist and hetero-normative words?
Then you proceed to make an ass out of yourself and declare that your partner is “embodying the greatness of a woman.” Why — because she is pregnant and has your “DNA” inside of her? Would she be even greater if she were cooking barefoot for you in the kitchen? Oh, this stung a little; well it hurt for me to read your post today. Mujeres should be honored every single day, not only when they are carrying your child. Are you so blind that you fail to recognize how hetero-normative your blog was today? You should know better than to ever make these types of comments. Have you forgotten about a woman’s moon cycle? You know, the period in time where they carry the most energy and are the strongest? This occurs every month, not only when DA’s “DNA is implanted inside of her.”
You mention the moon — by which I am sure you must have meant Coyolxauhqui. How dare you even mention the moon and the female energies and powers without understanding your own people’s history. Coyolxauhqui was killed by a man, her limbs destroyed because she was seen as too strong and powerful. I find it insulting that you reference the moon when you continuously cut off the spiritual limbs of the women in the struggle every day with your machismo, words, and failure to gain consciousness as a man of color. You attack all of the modern Coyolxauhqui’s who are the womyn warriors in my community. Your attacks on them are direct attacks on me. You have insulted my sisters and me enough, and now it is time to fight back.
This is a new time in the history of Xican@ struggle where women do not hold their tongue nor step back behind men, waiting for their order. We love the movement too much to allow for your love of domination and sexism to destroy the minds, bodies, and souls of women who have done more in their young lives than you ever will in your life time by sitting back and being an armchair revolutionary. Your time is up, DA, you are at the point in your life when you must decide if you will change or if you will continue being the person you are today. One road leads to destruction, while the other leads to reconciling the damages made and moving forward in the struggle as equals. You can’t be a feminist or an equalist and choose to respect one pool of women while disrespecting the other. I share the same struggle that your partner had, and that same struggle also belongs to my sisters in Tucson. I think you might have forgotten about the philosophy of In Lack Ech —that attacks that you are staging against my sisters are a direct assault to me —moreover, the only one you’re hurting in the end is yourself and the thoughts of the child your are about to bring to this earth. You must change your ways and think about the 7 generations after you. Do you want your future daughter in the struggle to experience violence, subjugation, and abuse like we did? You must change now if your answer is no. As a Xicana who writes as a method of personal healing, I ask for you never to put down women of color and their words. As a Xicana who is on the frontlines of a movement, I have been a victim of verbal abuse and assault and have used Malintzine as a space of healing. Your campaign to shut down this blog is a direct effort to continue to keep us silent victims. The only ones who profit from our silence are you, the Chicano Machista males. You will no longer be free to bash women without a rebuttal from one of us. I thank you for making me angry enough to write my first post on this blog. On a final note, you are full of contradictions and macho bullshit. Try to come at me DA Morales; I would love to see you try.
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!