Thursday, February 26, 2009

letter #6

cross posted from my ecdysis

excerpts from Letter #6

Dear Veronica,

....Dr. Liu, in his ever strange ways, seems cheery when I call him, asking him what our next step should be, "Well, just wait until day 35 of the cycle and take a pregnancy test. If you're not pregnant, we'll just up the dosage."

In other words, as he has said it before: quit worrying.

But I am worried.

The face I put on for others is a face of hope and optimism. The words come out of my mouth as I say that I will not be devastated if I cannot have biological children, but the truth is, my darling daughter unborn, I am afraid I will slip into a darkness that will shade me for the rest of my days if that happens. The reality is that life is given to you and there are portions of it which you can exercise control. Most parts, though, are handed to you, as is, and what you do with those parts, what you choose to create or act with it, is entirely up to you. I have trouble coping with that reality.

Someday, I hope, you will sit next to me and we will go over these letters together. I'm sure I will need some prompting about what I was thinking at 29 years of age, and I hope that these words will open a door of memories that will help guide you in your path of choices.

I want to include a picture with this letter. This is a picture of me, your old Mama at twenty years young, with another little girl. Her name is Veronica and she is the little girl you are named after. Taken in 2000, Veronica, now, is around fourteen years old and probably still in barrio Nueva Vida in Managua, Nicaragua.

Back in the old college days, I decided to live in Nicaragua for three months and work in areas that would challenge my ways of thinking. Nicaragua - Veronica - succeeded....

....I want you to remember something, my child, in case you ever forget yourself: all children are created equal and therefore you will all grow into women that are equal. This world will tell you different. It will tell you that since you were born in a certain country with privileges, education, and industry, you are worth more. The world will tell you that your place in society is measured by the size of your wallet, the space of your house, the shine of your car, the interest rates of your stocks, the gleam of your hair, the smell of your breath, the shade of your skin, the mobility of your legs, the speed of your mind..........

....There is nothing greater in this world than the measure of what you will do for liberation and for how far you will go to bring a sense of peace to the places that will never know the quiet of stars because their skies are filled with the noise of bombs and bullets.

I make you sisters and gently remind you to care for one another, even if you never meet. Even if you are separated by everything and you find nothing in common, you are sisters. You are binded by my realization that I cannot sacrifice one without sacrificing the other. You need each other in every sense of the word survival.....

please read the entire incredible letter here

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

art speaks and quick note to self

Art Speaks

Rad Los Angeles art piece image excavate childhood memory for many young Latinas.

See a photo of the piece here.

Last year, I attended a Mujeres de Maiz artist exhibit showcasing women of color artists, this painting took me back to when I was that child gazing at the calendar romanticizing the Aztec Warrior saving the voluptuous beautiful princess. This image decorated the new year calendar that the carniceria (butcher), local Latino market gave out during the holidays. It is a beautiful piece of art honoring indigenous history and Mexican culture. A badge of honor of sorts. It was free too, so it hung on the kitchen wall right by our table. For breakfast, lunch and/or dinner sometimes I looked up towards the image and I wanted to be that beautiful princess getting saved by the handsome strong warrior. Our home was not unique, many Latino families sported the free calendar in their walls. Consequently many young Latinas can easily identify this image, and the symbolism connoted. As an adult I’ve dissected that image of the princess saved by the Aztec, there’s a strong sexualization of their bodies, her voluptuous body, eyes closed, tender tilted face, emphasizes her looks while the Aztec warrior’s fit body accentuates his strength and conviction to save the princess. Feminism 101 ( or for me common sense 101) “female” socialization teaches that our looks are more important than our actions and that we are often times on earth to please heteronormative ideals, so when I stood in front of this image of the woman picking herself up, it brought a “hell yea” in me.

The image is called “Pick Yourself Up, Girl.”

As I dealt with a whirlwind of ups and downs the last couple of weeks, one late nigh walking the dog with an aching heart staring at the cemented sidewalk processing the day’s emotional exhaustion (heart hanging very low) with that image ingrained, I affirmed out loud, “pick yourself up girl.”

The UBUNTU philosophy, I am because we are, is resonating with me more and more lately and it cannot be truer in the journey of transformative healing. That night as I dealt with complex emotions garnering and searching for the tools at reach, that image, Alexis P. Gumbs’ “Wishful Thinking” poetry replaying over and over in my car earlier - the soothing words, the powerful image gave me the strength to reach within to not only get dragged down by the heavy load it became lighter. Their art work, infused life into the dreary terrain of pain. Their art work, helped me carry myself. Walking back home, with my head a little higher, the load lighter, and for that, I am eternally thankful.

and from noemi:

quick note to self

If love is a radical force, the work I do as an non-traditional teacher and storyteller are testimonies to this. Love is radical.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

raven's eye

raven’s eye

February 22, 2009

so i have been dreaming about blogs. the first dream was about a blog called: raven’s eye

and as i have been thinking deeply over the past few days about these dreams and visions, i felt compelled to say this:

we, as women of color, have been organizing ourselves for years on the internet. we have started blogs, and e-zines, social networking spaces, list serves, conferences, conversations, groups, websites, cd’s and more. we are incredibly prolific, visionary, each of us coming to this space with individual and collective visions of self-expression, survival, sexuality, business, teaching, learning, community, organizing, solidarity,art, dreams, healing, and love.

in my visions i kept seeing a women and transfolk of color blog. one that was updated daily with our news, analysis, announcements, personal reflections, conversations, and more. a location on the net where we, from our different perspectives and lives, are able to give voice to us. where we agree and disagree, and stay in conversation.

i see this blog as a part of the ongoing organizing and expression that we do both on- and off-line so well in the midst of our crazy, blessed lives.

and so i am sending this out into the ether asking what you think.

are there others who are interested in building such a space for women and transfolk of color?

i can offer a chance to see if this experiment could work. i have some free time to dedicate to the building of this site. a certain amount of knowledge of software and a willingness to learn more. a connection to some communities of color. and a desire to build with you.

please distribute this where you think appropriate.

and if you are interested please leave a comment at

outlaw midwives


the new site: outlaw midwives is up! yay! please check it out...

We envision anti-violence safer communities where mothers and children heal from reproductive violence, because it is when we are whole and confident in our own leadership, are we able to co-create healthy communities.

Communities in which loyalty to a mother’s choice is 99 percent of being a midwife and in which we define ‘motherhood’ as love by any means necessary.

Communities in which we care for ourselves developing spiritual and physical awareness so that we can hold the space, the energy, the vision for folks to make decisions that center freedom, community and revolutionary love.

We must mother ourselves. Hold ourselves the way that we hold our children. And know that our wisdom is stronger and more knowledgeable and relevant than outside expertise. We must live the lives that are given to us. And trust others to do the same. For the sake of our survival. For the sake of our ancestresses. For the sake of our communities. For the sake of love.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

the invisible mother

xposted from womanist musings

In feminist circles there is often commentary regarding our shared experiences as women. What is ignored is that though certain situations are similar based solely in gender, quite often we experience them differently when there is a race or class intersection. As mothers our capacity to love our children is boundless, but this is not nearly the universalizing experience as presented by most forms of media, or mainstream feminism. All mothers are not created equal. For the middle/upper class white woman, with her mini van and Prada purses there are plenty of visible representations of positive motherhood. If however you are a woman of color, the erasure in the discourse of motherhood is totalizing.

Women of color are not constructed as mothers; they are presented as irresponsible breeders who did not have the decency not to burden society with their offspring. Their right to reproduce is continually challenged because a capitalist economy does not encourage production without an obvious profit. The reality of the situation is, if a child grows in a poor household despite the pull yourself up by the boots rhetoric, they are most likely to grow into poor adults trapped by a system that has refused to give them equal opportunity from birth.

The mother/breeder binary is readily obvious in most parenting magazines. The stories are often written by white women of the privileged class, while the lived experiences of women of color are absent from the pages. Despite the courage and strength of will that is necessary to raise a child, when you exist as a marginalized body your stories are not deemed compelling, or marketable. Women of color are meant to serve as “mothers helpers,” not exist as actual mothers.

As the elite rush off to mommy and me gatherings in between scheduling for their high intensity careers, what is ignored is that the option to pursue such a range of possibility only exists because of the ability to exploit another woman. Poor so-called third world women who are often separated from their families function as an invisible support staff, permitting women of the privileged class to announce that yes Virginia, we can have it all.

read more at womanist musings here

Thursday, February 12, 2009

a different level of hell: family court

xposted from mamita mala

I think someone said that one of the responses to grief is anger and yesterday morning, the morning abuela died, I was angry. I was not angry at death or at abuela pero I was angry porque my ex had decided to in order to pay me child support we needed to do it through court, even though the amount ordered by the magistrate, who not once looked up to see my face, was the same exact amount I had told el chileno mas o menos he would have to pay according to New York State guidelines. Add to that the fact that el chileno has opted for the money to be taken out of his check directly, instead of paid to me, I have to wait and likely won’t have enough for rent for the apartment where his daughter lives.

Next on my journey through levels of hell: Health insurance and food stamps (my case was closed).

(re)thinking walking: bfp's second walk

from brownfemipower at flip flopping joy

It’s only very rarely that it’s a joy to go for a walk here. More often than not, it’s a struggle, a pain, an effort. The closest *real* park (as in, it has birds and trees and wild flowers and leaves and maybe some bunny rabbits or raccoons–as opposed to a small plot of grass with a walkway forced through it) is about a 20 minute car ride into Ann Arbor. I have not been strong enough mentally to try the bus.

To drive out to a nice park where you can’t hear the drone of the freeways is often such a hassle (and expensive–$4 gas anyone?), it’s just not worth it. But walking around the local neighborhood…well…see for yourself.


Michigan, day one


Michigan, day two


Michigan, day three

Notice anything?

Inspired to get outside and take an invigorating, life affirming, healing walk?

I sure wasn’t. And that’s why I didn’t. The fam and I got in the car instead and drove around. We documented our surroundings, became more aware of them.

Michiganders spend a lot of time trying to outrun their surroundings, to make the bleak grayness as blurry as possible so certain things just aren’t noticed anymore.

So that the miles and miles of concrete grayness doesn’t swallow you whole.