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.

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