Saturday, September 20, 2008

11 years and over an hour ago

It was after Abner Louima. I was 20 years old, single and very pregnant. After spending the entire summer supervising a city wide voter registration drive that employed members of street organizations (aka gangs) and running security at various anti-police brutaity rallies, one of the most gratuitous incidents of police violence occurred and I was forbidden by my mentor from marching across the brooklyn bridge. I was due to give birth to Alejendro Lautaro, half Rican, half Mapuche baby that moved heavy in my belly. Richie did not want me giving birth on the brooklyn bridge during a protest against the police that could turn ugly. I thought the whole notion romantic. What better place to give birth to the child of two warriors. but my mother and Richie planned and instead I was limited that Staurday to walking around the block in my hood. The hood where I was percieved as the “different” kind of Rican because I could speak so well and didn’t play my music so loud. And now I was, in the eyes of many , a stereotype.

When the marches were over and everyone was safe in their homes, my contractions began. I was calm. I may have stood outside an abortion clinic months earlier, but this moment felt like the most natural thing in the world. I asked my mother to call the cab. Asked my sister to grab my bag and soon I was on my way to Long Island Jewish Hospital.

Once inside the hospital, everything happened so fast. I was wheeled in for a sonogram, where I hoped finally to see if my Alejandro Lautaro was really a boy (I never really knew as the baby was a modest one). Instead clearly the baby raised a middle finger to me as I intruded into it’s space. My mother and sister can confirm this.

I hadn’t taken lamaze or bithing classes. Who had time for that when I was working and organizing? So I faithfully took the epidural when it was offered. My crooked spine was bearing the weight of this birthing process. I slept while my mother watched tv and before I knew it I was pushing out the most perfect brown baby from inside of me, into a world that welcomed her and rejected her, into a world I would teach her about but will never be able to fully protect her from.

Yes she, Alejandro Lautaro was born a girl to remind me that mujeres are warriors to and thanks to a collaboration between my sister and I, she was named for two cities in two separate countries that carry her bloodline.

That was 11 years ago to the day.

Since then I have been transformed by mami’hood. Something about carrying and bringing life and caring for life radicalized me. She was barely a month old when she attended her first rally and got into a physical confrontation. Her first word may have been mami, but her first sentence was no justice, no peace. She perfected her raised fist by age three. Learned chants for Vieques before her abc’s. She was fed as my comrades and I disected texts on race, power and resistance. She colored as we planned protests and waited for me when I took my first arrest. She hates writing , but can spot injustice in half a second. She’s quiet but it’s because she’s thinking and plotting. She was raised by a single mother and by a community of women in the family who made sure she never lacked what she needed but also that she was never overwhelmed with a false sense of abundance or privilege.

I am proud to watch her grow into her own mujer, with me as a guide , with victories and failures as examples.

Te abre el camino mi’jita mia, ahora tu tienes que caminarlo.

Monday, September 8, 2008

impending motherhood

from stinky kinky mama

I have been chewing off the skin on my fingers to the point that it is painful to type these words. My teeth ache from chewing ice all day long and my bloodshot eyes are a gross reminder of my sleeplessness. I’m just a little nervous about impending motherhood. I do comfort myself with the fact that no matter what I do or how I prepare or what I read, I will never, ever know exactly what I’m doing… and no one has ever mastered motherhood. I mean, right? So all I have to do is my best. Right?

Something that has been irking the shit out of me is how lucky I am, just to have been born to a mother whose teaching job has us in the middle class. I don’t know the exact figures of income for middle class for our region, lower or upper, but I know we’re definitely in the lower middle class, having experienced many instances growing up that as a family we were near broke by the end of the month. But since I was 4, we’ve always lived in houses, always had a car, always had health insurance, always had new school supplies and clothes and my mom always had free time to spend with my two sisters and I. Now the income and charitable spirit of both Marc’s and my parents is helping us out immeasurably. I was able to choose not to work (now I realize I may have been happier working) while pregnant. I have learned so much these past months though, from sheer reading time; I have absorbed more information in these past months than I did in that year I was in college.

But from all this learning a feeling of panic has set in. I’ve always been a bookworm, always excelled at academia and loved to write. I also love to talk and share information I’ve gathered. This has led to me having a hidden dream to be a professor someday. And now that I’ve been slowly unlearning all my history classes and realizing that what made me hate the idea of furthuring my formal education was its irrelevancy to my life (read: high school history books had nothing to do with being a brown person on the US side of the Mexico-US border). Okay, the history of Texas has plenty to do with my life as a confused, border-town, brown girl– but not the way it was presented to me. As for that panicked feeling, I’m fretting about how I let my four-year full-paid scholarship (that I worked hard for) go down the drain, how I succumbed to drugs and partying and how I never believed that I could be ’smart’ or articulate enough to get up there and do it, be a professor of, well, I didn’t know WHAT I wanted to profess back then. But now Chicano studies would sweep/has swept me off my feet. Border studies. Womens studies. Other stuff I don’t even know exists as part of the UT Pan American programs because I am too melancholy to look. I was extended this great opportunity and some flimsy ideology I possessed a year ago allowed me to think I’d be happy leaving the great resources at the local university. A friend named Hector was ranting about the ICC infiltrating the university, sputtering about how “this University is ours, these resources are ours, this place is for our people!” And now I realize how important it is to my mental health to have time to be a little, oh, scholarly.

I explained all this to Marc near tears today. The beautiful person of my dreams was genuinely concerned, and asked me very specific time-span questions. In his mind, it’s not a question of can Sofia do it, it’s how long will it take? And he said he’d work to put me through school, no questions asked (Marc passionately wants to be a stay-at-home daddy).

All that said, back to impending motherhood. Or parenthood, for that matter, since me going back to school would affect all three of us so intensely. I am going to continue to research positions in the Valley where I could help people in my community without going to college, or going to college for a shorter period of time. I know I could feel fulfilled doing something else related to radical change or the providing of information here in the Valley. Hell, I would even go to vocational school to do something meaningful on the side. It’s just that I’m so damn good at academic stuff, it’s that natural talent I have. Oh well- there is no conclusion to be had today, in this post. This post has already changed so drastically from what I thought I was gonna write about when I started typing.

I’m gonna try to sleep now. Marc’s been asleep for a couple of hours already, but I had to let my damn food go down so as to avoid heartburn. And as usual, I got to thinking and chewing my fingers and whatnot. And yeah, I’m off.

PS My stomach itches.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

McCain’s VP Pick : Palin and the Politica and Privilege of White Woman’hood/ Mommy’Hood

cross posted from mamita mala!

Cross posted with VivirLatino

Last night, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin accepted the nomination to the vice-presidency at the Republican National Convention.

Originally the buzz about Palin, focused on her having a vagina. Her presence was analyzed as a calculated McCain strategy to lure disgruntled, hard core Hillary Clinton supporters.

Then the shift went internal, to her uterus, her identity as a mother to five, the youngest with some form of developmental delay, and a 17 year old daughter, unmarried and pregnant.

So what does this Palin parranda of information and analysis mean to mamis of color, Latina mamis like me? Not surprisingly, nada.

Sarah Palin wants to put herself out there as “every woman”. She wants to be seen as “just your average hockey mom”, and other mommies see themselves and their reality reflected through Palin, except, mamis of color, that is.

The talk returns to mommy wars, not mami wars, because the entire conversation excludes Latinas and other moms of color. We are not even soldiers. Even for so called progressive white feminist, the war is fought by them and maybe, if mamis like me are lucky, we’ll reap some benefit. When I was a pregnant teenager, in a Latin American country where abortion was and still is illegal(Chile), there was no opting out of pregnancy or working. Which is why the debate of how Palin could go back to work after having a baby with special needs or how a pregnant unmarried teenage daughter is being used, feels like a sideshow with little significance in reality. The politics of choice is being raised, with the emergence of a woman who is anti-choice, even in cases of rape or incest and with no talk of how for women of color, choice goes beyond an abortion and means the very right to have children (forget 5!) Imaginate if Michelle Obama had five children? Imaginate if one of the Obama children were older and pregnant? Imagine the hate and stereotypes that would be unleashed? Oh wait, I don’t have to imagine, as a single mami of color, I live it. Palin’s large brood isn’t seen as a strain on the system. They are a beautiful portrait of an “American” family making every other family, families like mine, ugly.

And let’s talk about the perceived double standard, that if a man had five children no one would be making a big deal of it, that men are held to a different standard, as stated in the video above. Claro if you take race out of the picture, it’s easy to follow along, pero if Obama was the father to five instead of two children, you don’t think the media and politicos would be making all sorts of references to black men and their hyper-sexuality? Or black men and responsibility? I hear no one telling Palin’s husband to put on a damn condom.

Just as many of women of color couldn’t get behind Clinton and her campaign because of racist attacks on Barack Obama, attacks that asked women of color to choose a candidate based not on a complex and painful history and reality, but rather because of perceived shared genitalia. Palin positions herself as continuing Clinton’s struggle, as continuing the struggle set forth by Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to run as a vice-presidential candidate. Let’s not forget that Ferraro called Obama “lucky” for being black. Is Palin then lucky for having five children, like my abuela did before being forcibly sterilized? You wanna talk about Palin’s uterus or the uterus of her daughter? I want to talk about my abuela’s uterus, how it’s power was deemed dangerous because of it’s power to bear brown Spanish speaking babies, my uterus and it’s abortions, miscarriages, and pregnancies, violations upon it, the uterus of an immigrant woman being viewed as a weapon in a culture war and the need to put those immigrant women in chains as they push babies from them and the need the U.S. government has to separate mamis and babies and deport and dispose.

My uterus and my head is tired.

Sources of info and Ire/ The NYT, The Kitchen Table, Jack and Jill Politics, Culture Kitchen

Friday, September 5, 2008

Don't Leave Your Friends Behind (a call for submissions for radical parents & their allies!)

on the heels of mai'a's post:

Call for Submissions: Don't Leave Your Friends Behind: a Radical Parents Allies Handbook -


Don't Leave Your Friends Behind is a book geared toward the non-parent radical community about how to be an ally to the parent(s) in their midst.

This book is going to be a collection of some of the best minds out there. We're looking for activists, allies, and radical parents to submit the most kicking stuff to make this the best book ever for getting down to business: let's make a better world WITHOUT Leaving out the mamas (and papas, partners, child-care providers) and children this time!

We are interested in submissions that focus on practical concrete ways you can (and have!) supported parents and children in your scene! We want stories of including children and parents in the anarchist and anti-capitalist activist movement such as: organizing Kidz Corners at radical bookfairs, providing childcare at specific events or as a political action, creating Baby blocs, and being part of collectives who include childcare so their members can participate, etc.

Word limit is from one sentence suggestions to 5.000 word essays.

Deadline: Feb. 1, 2009

About the Editors:

Vikki Law (that's me!) is a writer, photographer and mother who has been working on a survey of anarchist mothers for the past two years. She also put out the zine "Mama Sez No War," a compilation of mothers' experiences and activism against the U.S. war on Iraq and is the co-editor of "Tenacious: Art and Writings from Women in Prison." Her first book Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women ( is coming out on PM Press.

China Martens is the editor of the long-running zine "The Future Generation ", Slug & Lettuce columnist, and mother of a 20 year old. Her first book The Future Generation: a zine-book for subculture parents, kids, friends + others is an anthology of 16 years of her zine and is put out by Atomic Book Company – also available from AK PRESS

Jessica Mills writes a monthly column for Maximum Rock N Roll, "My Mother Wears Combat Boots" and her book came out on AK Press in November 2007 by the same title. She's a mother of two, sometimes plays sax with Citizen Fish, and is always all about organizing cooperative childcare.

Questions? Feel free to get in touch.

China Martens
P.O. Box 4803 Baltimore MD 21211


Vikki Law
PO Box 20388
Tompkins Square Station
New York, NY 10009

i dont hate kids, but...

okay--i am late on this post...over a week late, but i still wanted to mention it.

over at vegans of color there is a post about young folks and intersectionality...the post itself (based off of joshivore's post...the link is below) is cool, but some of the comments blow my mind...

what amazes me is how many people just plan and envision their entire lives as being child-free. i had a friend who said that she wasnt really used to being around babies so i couldnt blame her if she was horrible at it. she just didnt have any friends who had kids. well actually what that means is that she chose to swim in circles that are childfree. and parentfree. and that is a pretty exclusive circle.

and as the comments at this blog make clear: that is a choice. people really do assume that their workplaces and their social places will not include young ones. not only do they assume it, but they also demand it. and lets name exclusivity as exclusivity and not just a nonpolitical personal the difference between paper or plastic (which is also a political choice...but wev)

at joshivore's original post, there are plenty of folks who say things like: i dont have to like your kids.
'Although a lot of people *say* they "hate kids", I realise what they usually actually *mean* is that they dislike being in their company."

which is such a problematic construction: 1. no, you dont have to like my kid but you do have to treat her with respect. 2. you have no right to discriminate against her based on her age alone 3. i dont 'own' her in the sense that she is not a piece of property. she is a person. and 4. well actually you do have to like my kid. she is awesome. and she is not going to apologize for being alive. if she is not acting in a way that pleases you then probably she does not like you. and she does not have to like you. cause she doesnt like assholes. (hell, there are plenty of times when she does not like me. obviously. you should have seen her yell today when i wouldnt let her play with the cell phone. and just as i was about to cringe, i realized that the guys outside of our window were even louder than she was and they were talking about nothing that i could decipher as important--- so some people are loud...oh well...)

kids are not a 'product of their upbringing'. they are not a product. they are human beings. and it is horrible that we are still characterizing human beings as products. my experience in this black female perception makes me very wary of the ways that we articulate people as products.

i get your point but we all have our own reasons for not being into breeding.

did i mention how racist the word: breeding is? god, i hate that word coming from the wrong mouth...calling a woman a breeder is disgusting...yeah, i know sexism sucks and it sucks to have people ask you why you arent a mother, but when you actually look at the socioeconomic statistics for childfree women vs mothers, there is no mistaking that childfree women are socially and economically sucks.

the number one indicator of women sliding into poverty is motherhood.

im not sure what i am trying to say in this post...i guess something about how hating kids (or not hating kids) is really about creating this little exclusive club that says: no mothers allowed. and by creating those little clubs you are perpetuating the system of oppression that alot of radical folks claim to be opposing and deconstructing. and part of creating radical communities is working and living with people that your privilege promised you wouldnt have to deal with. like blacks, or women, or queers, or disabled, or kids, or mothers.
and so ppl need to either deconstruct their privilege and get over it and start learning how to like kids and all kinds of folks that you arent 'used to' because that is the world we live in. or you can crawl into a gated community where you only see kids when the brown and black nannies are taking them out for a walk in the afternoon.