Night Walk

The light dims in the sky as my endless calls are met with no answer. After calling everyone possible, I realize the best idea is to start my long walk. Seven miles from a location I am unfamiliar with isn’t settling well in my stomach. Before I leave, I notice a rideless friend and ask her if she wants to join me. She agrees and we nervously start our voyage down the path of dark corners, empty streets, abandoned sidewalks and the hungry animals of the night.

Darkness falls as we walk; everything becomes unfamiliar and the shadows transform our surroundings. As if walking on thin ice we become hyper alert as cars pass, attentive when footsteps come near, and quiet when voices are high.  Our glances shift every which way and loud noises cause our bones to shake; we scare each other with our breathing. The first whistle we receive is from a man in his thirties. He pops his head out of the car window while doing some sort of gesture with his eye (that seems to resemble a wink) and goes on his way. My immediate reaction is disgust which is quickly replaced with fear, after all the night is not on our side. There are too many hiding places and way too many stories that are bouncing around in my head. Walking…

Honk, Honk…whistle, whistle.

The women walked through the alley and never came back.

Women walked home and never got there.

Women yelling and screaming with no one was around to hear.

I ignore these thoughts and we anxiously continue. A feeling as though rocks are in my shoes follows me down my path. My friend and I hide our concerns with conversation and forced laughter but our minds are elsewhere. We talk as we approached a bus stop where two guys sit waiting. Their faces don’t seem important enough to remember, after all there’s no set face for danger; it is their gestures that resonate more. As we get closer I see their glances fall upon us and their smiles lift to one side. My friend and I pretend not to notice their piercing eyes as we pass them. Yet it seems as if our non reaction only causes them more pleasure because they stand as we pass and call after us, “Damn girl, you got a nice ass, why don’t you come and have a seat.” The rocks in my shoes grow exponentially and my heart rate accelerates. It is becoming hard for me to think straight. My friend and I look at each other knowingly and continue our walk without acknowledging their comments.

The minutes move like hours and hours like years, the thought of home far gone. Yet I focus on the goal to make it home –if only it were as simple as tapping ruby slippers together! As I glance down at my fitted jeans and blue t-shirt I wonder if my outfit is to blame for the reactions of the night and if I should fear it being my end?  I wonder if these are the final thoughts one has when the night takes over, when finally the animal can’t take more of the taunting.

The braided hair,

Animal licks their lips.

The long pants,

Animals mouth waters.

The plain T-shirt.

Animals saliva. Drip. Drip,

It aims and—

ring, ring. (my phone)

“Hello?” I say.

A familiar voice answers, “Where are you?  I’m coming to pick you up.”

                                                                       

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

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

Good Girls

My hips, they extend outwards in imitation of the horizon believing they will be welcomed like the morning sun signaling the beginning of a brand new day—
They are not.
 
My belly, it extends forward and under filled with excitement to be part of the world bouncing happily along as if constantly waving to those passing thinking it will be met with the same cordiality—
It is not.
 
My thighs, they rustle together making me chafe as I walk to class—or anywhere really—thinking the constant “swish-swish” friction of fabric is like the chatter of gossiping friends whose conversation will be interesting to all those around them—
It is not.
 
No, you see, they exist in a world where they are unwelcome—even though they harm no one. Their absence is what is preferred by most, men and women alike.
 
On this campus you see slim, sun kissed ladies who do not rudely “swish-swish” to all those who walk by, or wave with their abdomens to strangers. Oh, no. they are good girls, disciplined. They are well educated and they know not to be intrusive, to not take up space except when they are beckoned. Except when they are summoned for entertainment or pleasures of another. They do not make their existence known.
 
Good girls silently and almost invisibly just passing by—no waving, no speaking. Just perfect. Just shut up.  Just don’t eat that. Just wear this.  Just buy that. Just don’t love yourself. Just hate the rest as well. Just behave.

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.

Culture of Silence

Acts of violence are committed against women in the Mexican-American Studies community consistently, yet it seems they are only discussed publicly when people outside the movement get involved. As a young woman in this community I should have been made aware of men in the movement who are known perpetrators of violence. I need to know which spaces are safe spaces and I need to be able to make informed decisions about the people I am involving myself with or organizing with. I believe that part of the reason I had no previous knowledge of any man’s history of gendered violence was because of a carefully constructed culture of silence. This culture of silence is also a culture of protection and of zero accountability. It was created to
pardon perpetrators of gendered violence and shield them from public scrutiny in order to maintain an image of social unity against injustice. The fact that information about people’s history with violence is kept from young women and other community members suggests that there is a system within the MAS community to keep that information private. It suggests that the people in power choose to glorify certain people and hide their history of violence.

Crafting a dialogue or narrative on blogs, newspapers, or during interviews also creates this culture of silence. Every time someone gives an interview or writes an article that intentionally covers up violence and injustice within the community – in order to fake a united, justice oriented front for the rest of the country – they are
contributing to the culture of silence. This is part of a larger issue, one that is centered around Three Sonorans controlling the national dialogue surrounding ethnic studies and vilifying the women or queer identified people who choose to counter this narrative, making the choice every time he writes a post and decides who is the glorified savior and who is the demonized. Bloggers and interviewees make the choice to glorify or vilify whomever they want every time they speak or write a post. They have the power to pick and choose which parts of the present to write about, therefore creating a history – again based on the observations and opinions of men and leaving out certain narratives they believe are unimportant. The assumption is that the narrative of men is all-encompassing and that somehow certain people have the authority to be ‘the voice’ of the movement.

When Three Sonorans writes a post he decides which narrative he wants to perpetuate, one that suits him the best and one that supports his homies, regardless of the truth. People perpetuating narratives for their own personal gain need to take responsibility for their role in establishing the current Tucson narrative as a largely male voice. They also need to take responsibility for their writings glorifying certain men in the community as pillars of social justice around the country, while they knew these men were perpetrators of violence inside their homes and inside the community.

In contrast to this male-centric national ethnic studies narrative, I want to have a collective narrative; filled with stories from women, LGBTQ, and disabled identified peoples. I want the national spotlight to not only focus on the men in this community but to embrace and acknowledge the leadership and contributions of women to this
movement.  In order to create this new narrative there needs to be an end to the public flaming and silencing of women and queer people in the community and there needs to be a system of accountability for our bloggers and those people who try to represent us nationally.

Hopefully this blog can be a tool to shift our national narrative to one that includes voices of people of all genders, sexualities, ages, class status and abilities. We cannot be a movement to fight injustice elsewhere if we are still perpetuating the same patriarchal, colonial oppression within our community.