Xicana voice — on honoring mujeres

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.

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.