Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Long Line of Vendidas

“This myth of the inherent unreliability of women, our natural propensity for treachery, has been carved into the very bone of [Chican@] collective psychology” ("A Long Line of Vendidas," Cherrie Moraga, 93).

There is much I could write about this piece, as it is so multi-layered. But my thoughts have been unable to turn away from considering the relationships between women in the Mexican-American side of my own family through the lens Cherrie Moraga provided. The distrust inherent in the relationships between women she described especially resonated with me, as I had a difficult relationship with my mother growing up, my aunt had a difficult relationship with her mother who also had a difficult relationship with her own mother (and so on, to the best of my knowledge). Not only that, but myself, my aunt, my grandmother and great-grandmother had distrustful relationships with other women in general. Reading about Moraga’s own experiences, this family history has been put into a new light.

“The daughter must constantly earn the mother’s love, prove her fidelity to her. The son – he gets her love for free” (94).

I recalled vividly when my grandmother was on her deathbed and I showed up with my younger brother (younger, but an adult). I can still picture the way she greeted him with open arms, wanting him to get on her bed and hug her, sit with her. Not like she greeted me. Her face lit up when she saw him with me, her face lit up when her sons walked in the door. She was always happy to see my aunt and I, as well, but was more reserved, in a way she never was with the men of the family.

This was my favorite grandmother.

I liked everything about her for as long as I can remember. The magazines she always had, dealing with psychics or UFOs or the Chupacabra. The breakfast we’d sometimes get, of chorizo and eggs and freshly made tortillas. The mariachi music that I liked but mostly sounded all the same, whereas she knew each individual song and had favorites. The smell of her house.

My favorite grandmother.

Even when I was depressed and feeling so totally self conscious and wanting to hide from everyone, including my family, I felt comfort in her house. And yet, as she was in the weeks leading up to her death, saying her goodbyes to her loved ones, I learned that she thought our relationship had “hard times”. And so stunned was I by this revelation that I never did get back to her to ask what she meant. At the time it seemed unimportant to have my own curiosities sated, as she prepared to die.

“Traitor begets traitor” (93).

Suddenly the difficulties of these relationships, unresolved at the time of both the deaths of my grandmother and my aunt, make significantly more sense. We Anglos (the other half of my family) have Eve, whose story tells us women are untrustworthy. Chicanas have that story as well as that of Malinche. Two powerful religious, cultural, narratives which show us why we cannot trust each other, two stories that teach us to value men, to trust our men, to identify with masculinity; over each other.

How can a feminist politics take root with so much of how you understand the world working against trust and solidarity between women? How can one be a lesbian, or a queer woman, in such a context? I understand more deeply now why “Chicana Feminism” is its own category. And I wonder where I fit in to that.

Friday, September 18, 2009

East Jesus Nowhere

All the white boys: sit down. And the Black girls: stand up. You're the soldiers of the new world. STAND UP.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New places

Hey all,

Just a note to let you know that I am in the process of moving. Therefore posting is going to be VERY sporadic!! But I still love you all and hope to see you again regularly soon. :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

An email from Vanessa

via raven's eye


On Monday a new friend and I went to the doctor together. At the end of both of our appointments, we ventured to the gas station that neighbored the clinic in search of an ATM as the clinic did not accept cards.

As we walked in I noticed, to our left, a white woman and a Latino man standing very close to each other. With intense eyes, they acted like cats readying to pounce on each other. I couldn’t tell if their glare, their dance almost, was playful or serious. Either way, I noted it and we continued inside. Once we had retrieved our money and a bottle of water we left the gas station.

By the time we got outside the woman and the man were fighting. Screaming. Hitting each other. The man, most importantly, was beating this woman. Beating her. In public. At 12 pm on a Monday. In a gas station parking lot.

Fifteen men, all clumped together at the periphery of the parking lot, just watched. Like it was a television show. They did nothing. They watched him beat her. We panicked, looked at each and immediately decided not to call the police. We also noted that we were the only other women there and ran inside to tell the people working the store. Even though we didn’t call the police, we still told an “authority” aka someone we thought could intervene. Their response was a non-response. They peered outside from behind the counter and decided to do nothing. I was stunned, unsure what to do but also really terrified to put myself in the middle of this man beating this woman. We then ran next door and told the people at the clinic and one woman
ran outside. By that time it was “over” and she was in a big red truck, with this white man, trembling, holding back tears, with blood and red marks on her face and neck.

But her person, this white guy, the one who she drove off with, didn’t do a god damn thing. Watched her get beat, like the rest of those men. Once it was “over” we asked her if she was ok, gave her some water, squeezed her hand, asked her if she needed to go to the clinic. After
she drove off, we both sat in the car not really knowing what to say to each other. I shook my head vigorously. Almost trying to shake it out. Shake out the noise of him beating her. The noise. Shake it out of my ears. My mouth. Wherever. It gushed out of my eyes, in the–form
of tears–later in the day. Among many other questions one or both of us asked “How could we have better responded?” Did we react as best we could?” “How can we be better prepared for situations like these in the future?”

(When I retold this story to my parents, holding back tears of my own, my father said, “if this had happened in Iraq they would have killed him right there in the street.” I do not know how accurate his statement is and of course murdering the man is not the only alternative but to me this is a far more acceptable response than just watching a woman get beat.)

The aforemtioned story brings me to this:

I have noticed a marked difference in how I move throughout the world ever since Kate and I got held up and ever since I went to Palestine. I’m more scared at night. I haven’t gone back to EAV at night since then. I’m more jumpy. I just feel more vulnerable (which for me means more scared)—as a woman, as a queer, as an Arab. I never felt vulnerable in Atlanta. For me, not feeling vulnerable meant not falling for the racist myth that I am always in danger of sexually
voracious, inherently violent Black men. I still refuse to believe this deeply racist, White Supremacist lie. However, I now realize it was also because my own lived experiences (not my family’s but of course trauma gets passed down in the blood and bones) and my reality as a middle class person with a certain extent of white passing privilege hadn’t warranted that much fear. (Am I making sense?) But between seeing a shot gun pointed at my love and me, witnessing and hearing story after story after story of omnipresent Israeli state violence and the threat of said violence in Palestine, and then seeing this woman get beat I feel different.

More anxious. And just plain scared.

But what is to be done? ;) Yes I could go to therapy and work on this as an individual but rather, how do we, together, work toward living in a world where we don’t always feel unsafe but also don’t always have to call the police if something does happen? I don’t have any answers. I just know that I’m committed to creating a world (shit, a city!) I want to live in that doesn’t ignore how insidious state violence is but that also recognizes our individual and collective vulnerability (as differently-abled people, as queers, as trans people, as women, as people of color, as allies, as poor people, as immigrants, as survivors) and most importantly our incredible power in looking out for each other while not further criminalizing entire groups of people. And I know there are some amazing people doing work in Atlanta around safety, how to respond to violence and
transformative justice. But what do we do in the meantime, like now? Like tomorrow? When we are in dangerous situations, when we witness others in dangerous situations or when people we love and/or are in community in have their safety jeopordized.

What do y’all feel about this? How do y’all feel about your own safety? Other people’s safety? What do you need to feel safe? What does safety even mean for each of us and how can we compile our needs and formulate something. What exactly I have no fucking clue. Maybe safety plans? Shit, what in the hell is a safety plan?

Are there models in other cities we can work from that anyone knows of? Or are there models in this city that other people are already working on?

If others would be open to having a conversation around this and so much more sometime within the next several months, I would be so so so into it. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

In Community,

PS– Of course, if you’d like, pass this on to whomever.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This sounds incredible

Celebrate with CASA – The Launching of ACHÉ!
The First Alternative Womyn’s Health & Wellness Cooperative in the South Bronx

Casa is launching the first Womyn’s Alternative Health and Wellness Cooperative – ACHÉ (Alternative Cooperative for Healing & Empowerment) for young and adult womyn this Fall. Inspired by the womyn in the Zapatista community and their organizing & movement building for autonomy, we are creating our model for sustainable and accessible healthcare for community, activist & organizers. The cooperative will support the health and wellness needs of womyn while being a respite to integrate self care into their daily practice and heal from internalized oppression.

ACHE will have spirituality, culture & human rights at the core of its sustainability. We use earth based spirituality to create sacred space to align ourselves with the healing elements of the season for the healing of our mind, body and spirit. Join our monthly healing circles(a monthly healing women’s group to break the silence of issues affecting community women including trauma of DV, violence, sexual assault, self mutilation, low self esteem, disordered eating etc.)We also offer complementary workshops such as: yoga, reiki, alternative fitness, afro-Caribbean rhythms, healing remedies, acupressure, meditation, and more.


We are looking for health practitioners, curanderas, folk healers, midwives, organizers, artist, etc. to join our Womyn of Color Healers Network, which will regularly provide free or low cost health care and wellness classes and trainings that include self gyn examinations, childbirth, STD/HIV prevention and alternative care, herbal medicine, nutrition, healthy meal preparation, holistic therapies, natural medicine treatment of weak immune systems, and trauma.

h/t Vivir Latino

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Pagan Census

via The Wild Hunt
Pagan scholar Helen Berger, co-author of “Voices from the Pagan Census: A National Survey of Witches and Neo-Pagans in the United States”, has announced that she and fellow researchers James R. Lewis and Henrik Bogdan are revisiting the Pagan Census project. The Pagan Census was first initiated nearly twenty years ago, and compiled data from thousands of modern Pagans to give a fascinating snapshot of our communities during Paganism’s meteoric rise in the 1990s. Now, in an age of blogs and instant communications, an update is underway to compare and contrast just how much we’ve changed.
So, to all my pagan readers: go and make your voices heard! :)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Help a Sister Out!

Hey everyone,

I am teaching a class referred to as “abnormal psychology” I hate the term and have already discussed why with my class but I want to make sure that my class is as progressive as possible and involves the opinions of those who are dealing with the symptoms of mental illness. I have read pieces from those that talk about their PTSD symptoms or other such things and I generated a discussion about the recent clusterfuck that was the Salon article but I was wondering about any more resources or advice, whether it be blogs or just things to remember and look out for. I also want to make sure that the reality of mental health treatment is discussed in this class and I have a decent enough concept of how frustrating it is from my end of being a provider and trying to get people services but would love input on how it can be on the other side.

Please spread this along

from mzbitca

Sunday, September 06, 2009

GV Indie Erotic Film Fest!

via Ess'in Em

Good Vibrations is gearing up for our fourth Independent Erotic Film Festival (IXFF), and we would love your help in getting the word out! For over thirty years Good Vibrations has pioneered a tasteful and inclusive approach to sex toys and sex education for women and couples. For the last four we have been celebrating indie filmmakers making sexy shorts. Please check out our website and see a week of parties and screenings!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Kaleidoscope, The Third Annual National People of Color Cabaret

Contact: Xandra Ibarra, 915.252.9252

Kaleidoscope, The Third Annual National People of Color Cabaret
“The first of its kind in burlesque”

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Baby Makes Me

via Mamita Mala

PLEASE POST ON YOUR BLOGS, SITES, LISTS etc. Help us reach the folks we need.

Many of you have already heard about our film, Baby Makes me. For you, this is an update. But for the folks who have not heard Tiona and I are making a documentary together.

For years, I have wanted to become a mother. But the timing has never been quite right. Either my partners weren’t ready, or I was scared, or I couldn’t find a donor or something. There was always something. By the time I rolled into 35, I was tired of being afraid, tired of waiting for the right woman with whom it would be the right time, tired of watching every Christmas roll over another Birthday, tired of watching my peers get knocked up and months later appear with the most amazing little bundle of potential—I was tired of waiting and ready to make the leap, and I was ready to make it alone.

I began the research with great heart—only to discover that there were little no resources for women who either wanted to, or had to embark on the journey of motherhood in the solo. There were one or two essays and a few books on artificial insemination, and some were even directed at lesbians—but most, if not all assumed that the mother would be operating from inside of a partnership, be that partnership heterosexual or homosexual.

The idea for the film came out of a conversation with Tiona to film the pregnancy/labor, assuming that there would be one—because no one, least of all me, knows if my body will cooperate in doing such a thing as conceiving. I envisioned Tiona asking a couple of heartfelt questions and spinning the light to create a high-end home-movie I could show my child at eighteen. She agreed and we began to flesh out some ideas. That conversation, coupled with the lack of resource material out there spurred the project now known as Baby Makes Me.

Baby Makes Me, a feature-length documentary, will explore the challenges and triumphs of Single Motherhood, particularly in the lives of women of color, lesbians and women who make a conscious choice to be mothers in the absence of intimate/romantic partnerships with men.

The film will use as its narrative skeleton, the journey of activist/writer/performer, Staceyann Chin, as she navigates her personal choices with reference to motherhood. Author of the memoir, The Other Side of Paradise, Chin now brings her talents to the medium of film as writer and Executive Producer.

The Director, Tiona McClodden, is a champion of promoting positive images of women in media. Her last film, “Black./womyn.:conversations…”, garnered much respect in both accolades and awards. She now brings her attention to the issue of women and motherhood.

It is our intent to interview a series of women from all the demographic cross-sections. Issues of financial, ethical, medical, cultural, and political relevance will be fore-grounded. We hope that clinics, hospitals, families, children of Black lesbians, straight Black women who want children, mothers of gay women who lament the loss of grandchildren when they discover their daughters are gay, and anybody who seeks to have a clearer picture of the family that includes gay women will see that our lives go on, that women who are single, be they lesbian, or Black or poor, can and do have babies, and that we are simply another group of people who live and laugh and grow. We hope to paint the subjects in the film as human and likable characters who, though they are dealing with slightly different challenges than the women we traditionally see as mothers, are not very different from any other group of people considering parenthood.

We are going to need all the help we can get. We need help in reaching out to folks who would like to be interviewed; other single mothers, women who have been inseminated, women who are thinking about it, women who work in the medical field, women who work in the administrative world of policy etc. We are on the hunt for the all the voices that could represent our story in the film.

We have recently been awarded a grant from ASTREA Lesbian Foundation for Justice and are set to move forward. We write to you now, in the hope that you will want to be involved in this groundbreaking project in whatever capacity you choose: we need space to host fundraisers and screening and other events connected to the film. We need people to fundraise, to promote the film, to host community talks, to suggest topics for discussion in the film—we need to secure additional investors, we need the help of people who are experts in the business of making films, and we need the counter-perspective of people who have never made a film. We are hoping to make this a community effort; from start to finish we want the ideas to be representative of the various factions in our diverse village of the women who mother our children. If you are sure you are unable to do any of the above, we only ask that you make room for our fliers, questionnaires, invitations, and other promotional materials for the film.

We would be honored if you would join us as we attempt to break more ceilings, level more walls to make room those of us who are too frequently left out of the history and imagination of the world we live in. We look forward to a spirited journey with you, from the opening shot to the ending credits—complete with your name listed among the most stalwart of our supporters.

Thanks again to the women who have already offered assistance. We look forward to your being a part of our process.

Staceyann Chin
Executive Producer/Writer, “Baby Makes Me”
Tiona McClodden
Director/Producer, “Baby Makes Me”

Please send all inquiries and requests to:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Links of Note

Headline Fiesta! Mucho Calór!

Andrea Dworkin On Transgender

This Patriarchal Town

Pondering the compassionate release story…

Cult web series tops iTunes chart

stuff white people do: miss "their" america

Reaction: Part 2

Black Female Athlete Dominates Competition-Gets Gender Identity Questioned

Peltier Denied Parole

Sure, there’s nothing creepy about Twilight

On Health Care

Germaine Greer Paints a Portrait of Transphobic Feminism

One woman takes on King Coal. And wins.

Let me fix that for you, E. Jean

Defense Attorneys Want Victim to Act Out Alleged Rape in Court

I’ve been collecting information about u.s. led genocide for years now–and I’ve been particularly obsessed with the massacre at My Lai. My Lai has been on my radar since I was a tiny little kid, actually.

Oh, one more thing
Sure, A Woman Shouldn’t Be Raped For Wearing a Short Skirt, But If I Leave My Door Unlocked, It’s Only Reasonable To Expect I Will Be Robbed

In Minneapolis, hundreds sit-in to stop an eviction

Remembering Hurricane Katrina

What’s Accessible To You?

Of Tea Parties and Patriots

We demand an explanation!

Hate Crime Survivors Victimized Again by Racist Immigration System


It’s Not About Me

the right of return

Fighting Back


the divine survivors clinic

Eudy Simelane: Corrective Rape, Corrective Death

Shotgun Adoption

Tennessee’s Infant Mortality Rate and the Lie of “Pro-Life”

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

What those guns signify

Thursday, August 20, 2009
Published Aug 19, 2009 3:13 PM

When a man dropped his gun at a town hall forum in Arizona, it was a sign that the town hall disruptions around the country were about much more than health care reform.

Just a few days after the Arizona incident, a man bearing a sidearm appeared outside President Barack Obama’s Aug. 11 town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H. He was holding a sign stating, “It is time to water the tree of liberty.” It was a reference to Thomas Jefferson’s famous statement, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” It represented a clear threat to the life of President Obama.

Most recently about a dozen armed right-wingers were seen carrying guns outside the Phoenix Convention Center, where Obama spoke to veterans on Aug. 17.

It is now safe to say what most observers already know in their heart—the town hall disruptions have little to do with health reform.

Yes, the topic of discussion at many of these forums is health care. And yes, there is a severe health care crisis in the United States that the Democratic health care plan does far too little to address.

That, however, is not why right-wingers are bringing their guns to town.

Health care is not the reason conservative radio host Mike Levin stated that Obama is “literally at war with the American people.” Anger over health care does not explain Fox News host Glenn Beck’s comment that Obama “has a deep-seated hatred for white people.” It is insufficient to explain former Republican vice presidential candidate Sara Palin’s lie that Obama was planning “death panels” for the elderly and the disabled.

No, what these words and actions expose is an orchestrated campaign by the extreme right to whip up the most backward whites into a racist frenzy by using President Obama as a fall guy for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

It is an attempt to channel the legitimate anger over joblessness and lack of health care into a racist backlash that divides the multinational working class, separates white workers from their Black and Latino/a brothers and sisters, and prevents a unified class struggle capable of taking on the ruling class, from Washington to Wall Street.

In this respect health care is being used as a wedge issue much the same as abortion, same-sex marriage and immigration are used by the ruling class to divide workers.

Why aren’t the leaders of organized labor mobilizing the rank and file against racism and for jobs as well as health care?

Where are the mass marches of workers demanding a jobs program at a living wage? Where are the caravans of uninsured and unemployed workers traveling the country in a dramatic call for jobs and health care for all?

With more than 16 million workers organized at the points of production and service delivery and hundreds of millions of dollars in union dues at their disposal, the only thing stopping the labor unions from mobilizing a mass movement around these issues is the will to do so.

In the absence of a sizeable left movement in this country, the most reactionary elements of the right wing have been emboldened.

A highly significant step in building a working-class response to the economic crisis is the September 20 National March for Jobs in Pittsburgh. The jobs march is scheduled just days before government leaders and finance ministers from some of the world’s richest countries meet there as part of the G-20 Summit to figure out how to save themselves in the midst of the global economic crisis.

Some brave local union leaders, including the San Francisco Labor Council, the International Longshore and Warehouse Local 10 and the Letter Carriers Local 214, have endorsed the call for a jobs march. Where will you be on Sept. 20?

For information on the National March for Jobs, see

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