Archive | March, 2009

Feminist Perspective: Care for One’s Self

26 Mar

Taking care of myself has been a real struggle. Continous evalution of my time, energy, and work is done when i feel depleted and unmotivated to continue.

While at the feminist encuentro, I went to a workshop titled, Los Cuidados: un deseo, un derecho o una obligacion (To Take Care: A desire, a right, or an obligation). It was a workshop to reflect on what it meant for us, as womyn, to take care of others such as children, family, partner, and/or society. We each had to ask ourselves, “how do i feel about taking care of others, how does it feel to take care of myself, am I able to ask others to take care of me?”

I was thrown into deep thought about how easy it is for myself to want to take care of people around me. I try not to worry about people because after all, people will do what they feel like doing, regardless of my feelings, and regardless of whether or not they are harming themselves. But I  do  turn deeply considerate about those who I care about, I can be very self-less. And if I am selfish, i feel guilty, as though I still haven’t made time for such and such person. And finally, maybe, towards the end, will i begin to consider myself.

I have to remind myself to be selfish. When I am selfish, I am aware of it because it feels great and it becomes neccesary. I realized that sometimes, even though I may want to help, I do not have the capacity to do so. And so my problem becomes about being able to communicate my needs and what I can and can not do. And I am finally accepting that I have a real problem expressing my wants and needs because I do not want to be demanding, or high maintenance, or disturb anyone. Yet, there are so many people around me who are quick to not take up responsibilities and can announce 10 different reasons why that is so.

imgp7624So I go back to my own process. I am finally pronouncing that I must practice communicating my needs. I have to advocate for my own well being. I need to use my voice not just for the cause, but for myself. The week before I went to Mexico I worked beyond 12 hours every day, making sure I would not leave anything pending. It was my way of allowing myself to leave, for just ONE week, and not have what I am responsible for fall apart.

Well, I love me. I want to be better at taking care of myself. I have been consciously practicing self-care at the mental, physical, and spiritual level for 2+ years now. And now I need to practice my communication more. Tengo que exigir mis necessidades. I have the right to not commit to things, to say I can not take something up, and i have the right to ask people to respect that. These things may seem simple and common sense, but really, it takes work to take care of yourself and to do it well.

So now I try to balance my engagement with the world vs. my own self- engagement. I am the most important person in my life. I will redefine what it means to take care of others. I will fight for my own space and my own time. I want to take care of my body and feed myself well. Exercise. Draw, read, write. I have the right to do NOTHING. And I do want others to care for me. I don’t need to be taken care of because I can’t stand on my own two feet, but I want those around me to be considerate towards me. And when im PMS-ing and on my period, i most def. need some chocolate, some one to make me tea, someone to hold me when I cry because I can’t help but feel the emotions, and I need warm socks, and comfy pillows.

Yes, I pronounce my needs. This is where im at. And if i went this personal, its because everyone should evaluate their needs, capacity, and care for others. It is our right to care for others or not. And from a feminist perspective, womyn shouldn’t have to be constant care takers. Our partners need to be better at taking care of themselves and family. And If we take care of our partners, it should be our desire to do so, not our obligation.

The state/governments also need to take up some more responsibilities because when budget cuts happen, social welfare gets butchered, and guess who picks up the pieces… WE WOMYN DO. We work more, volunteer more, and remain unhealthy. Think about all the teachers out there and how the great majority of them are womyn who are losing their jobs. If teaching K-12th was a male dominated career, would school districts pressure men to over-fill their classrooms beyond capacity, or cut their health benefits, or fire them without consideration.

At my job I am currently advocating for mental health days. You know how you ask for sick days, well I want my mental health days. The days I chose to stay home or take care of my personal business and not have to lie about being sick.

What are your needs? What should the government take care of in our society? Are you demanding your personal and societal needs?

Herstory of the Feminist Encuentro

19 Mar

62On Monday, March 16th, 2009, the 11th Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Gathering began in Mexico City, Mexico. These historic gatherings of womyn from Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean happened for the first time in 1981 in Bogoto, Colombia. This space was created for the purpose of:

“Reuniting Latin American womyn who are committed to feminist practices to exchange experiences, opinions, identify problems and evaluate the different practices towards development, and in this way plan the work and projects needed for the future”. (Colectivo Colombiano CineMujer)

189 womyn participated, and nineteen countries were represented in the first gathering during the days of July 18–21, 1981. Four commissions/ workshops under the themes of Sexuality, Womyn and Culture, Womyn and Labor, and Feminism and Political Challenges were created. Indeed this gathering proved to be historic and conclusions set pace for the work that needed to be done under a feminist agenda:

1) Feminism in Latin America and its relation to the process of transformation and liberation in the context of this historic movement were explicitly specified and identified. Even though it was recognized that feminists shared similar challenges, a difference between feminist movements in Europe and the United States was established.

2) It was recognized that feminism was at the fore front in the struggle against capitalism and its relationships of subordination that exists between countries. It is a struggle against the relationship of power and violence and its multiple expressions in both the “public” and “private” sphere.

3) It was found necessary for the feminist movement to be independent from political parties.

4) Finally, the feminist struggle was not just engaged in the process for social change within Latin America, it is also important to transform daily life. The political importance of radically modifying the ways in which womyn related with each other, with men, children, and with objects. ( Comite Impulsor XI Encuentro Feminista, Mexico, D.F., 2009, pg. 16)

hermanamirabal1Another note of importance is that within this first gathering, November 25th was declared as the “International Day of No Violence Against Womyn”. This day was chosen in memory of the Maribal Sisters who were assassinated by the dictator Trujillo of the Dominican Republic on November 25, 1960.

Since 1981, the gathering has occurred every 2-3 years there after. It has convened in Lima, Peru (1983), Bertioga, Brazil (1985), Taxco, Mexico (1987), San Bernardo, Argentina (1990), Costa del Sol, El Salvador (1993), Cartagena, Chile (1996), Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic (1999), Playa Tambor, Costa Rica (2002), and Sierra Negra, Brazil (2005). This year, 2009, it has returned to Mexico, to the Historic Center and core of this country. This gathering continues to transform and redefine feminism at the individual and collective level. So far, this gathering has held fierce discussions, debates, and workshops, balanced by art, theater, dance and dj´s.

*I am a couple days behind on my documentation of this event. Althought I was very much frustrated with my inability to document to my ideals, i had to let that go and realize that documenting, writing, and reflecting is alot more simple than these slow a** computers. It meant writing non-stop in my notebook for 45 minutes before going to sleep last night. It was the only way i was going to achieve sleep anyway. The mind needs a way to download, and pen and paper does not freeze on me or tell me that i no longer have enough GBs.

I have also become better at being more present, and being online and blogging takes away time from being present at the conference. This gathering has already added to my own evolution, transformation of being human, being a womyn, and being a feminist. And I´ll continue to share past this conference.

I love Mexico City and I Love Feminists!

17 Mar

BLOG 1 of many : Hola, from Mexico City. It has been exciting since minute one en el D.F. This city is amazing, historic, and beautiful. Theres so many people here. So many things to see and appreciate. So much life, expresión, and PUBLIC SPACE. ciudad-de-mexico1This is a pix of the ZOCALO, a giant, flat Square plaza in the middle of Centro Historico, and you get the most sincere calmness sitting in the middle while all the cars and chaos roams around you. Familias, vendors, artists, and children chasing bubbles and kites is what you will see. But I can´t get away from the feeling of wonder to just sit in the middle of it all on the floor.

I currently feel limited in my ability to document and express to the World wide web the sights and sounds of Mexico City. The Computers freeze if i try to upload Pictures or film. I know documentation has occurred without this technology. So I will do my best to write in a way that you are able to imagine and visualize with me.

The first night here was FUN. I am lucky that the homegirl Nef is on this crazy aventura conmigo because she loves to laugh and dance. So it´s a perfect match because on Saturday night we roamed the streets of Centro Historico following the bright lights and the sounds of music to our destinations. Our first stop was another beautiful plaza with a huge stage and about 15,000 people !!!! It was a celebration of the arts and the organizers brought together some bad ass DJs. And people were dancing everywhere.

metrojo11Being in this city, I am convinced of the enormous importance that public spaces hold in the development of a city and the way it is experienced. Public spaces allow for culture and expression to manifest. Here in the city there are young and old, straight and queer, and different classes coming together to share space. I especially enjoy watching the youth hanging out. I see how young people are able to develop their own identity because they are more free, they can walk to places, or take the public subway system to get around. In L.A. young people need a drivers license and a car to feel mobile. The bus system is slow. And we are at least 40-50 years behind on a public metro\ subway \ public transportation system.

There is a Subway system that can take you in all directions of Mexico city here. And you can either ride a taxi, bus, or walk around this crazy city. I love it. Even though my legs are feeling hella sore. Im gonna go get a massage after this blog.

So Nef and I jumped on the subway to get to Coyoacan – Los Coyotes en Nahual. This is where Frida Kahlo´s House is at. But before I jump to this visit, let me tell you about the subway. So it was on Sunday and there were hundreds of people underground. We jumped on train and then there was a guy announcing the sell of mix cd´s with cumbia, salsa, reggeaton, romanticas. The best part is that he had speakers and there I was holding on to the rail with cumbias in the train.

After 2 trains we made it to Coyoacan. We couldn´t decide whether to walk to the Jardin – one of the big parks in this town, or to take a taxi. Then this older couple made the decision for us and asked us if we wanted to share a taxi. So we jumped in the taxi since we were going to the same place. We tried to pay when we got off but they insisted on paying for all of us. They were so sweet.

The park was … GREAT. Again, there were so many people, and families, and food. Churros with chocolate, grilled corn, tostadas, mini-pancakes, fruit, ice-cream, tacos… And there were vendors with jewelry, clothes, art, leather, dolls, ceramics, and soooo much more. We took a break and we were not even half way around the park. We sat next to a water fountain with 2 copper coyotes in the middle. We rested our feet but we noticed everyone eating ice-cream and churros. We got up and went on the search for the perfect churro. This is where I would share the video I took, but I CANT, I SIMPLY CANT !!!!

imgp7513After all of this we had an hour left before Frida Kahlo´s house was closed. So we hurried across the town and made it just in time. The blue house is beautiful. I love Frida. We could not stop talking about how great she was. She is an amazing woman who expressed her sexuality, politics, and art all in one. She was the subject of her paintings and I appreciate that stance of looking so deep within and reflecting your pensamientos, your pain and sorrow, and politics in a painting. And we saw her and Diego´s art studio with her wheelchair and box of oil paints.

I am so happy that I was able to be here in my life. I am sure Frida never imagined her house becoming a museum, and even less that on a random Sunday, there would be 2,040 visitors, including me and Nef.

Before we left Coyoacan we had to get some coffee and rest our feet. imgp7523I had the most deliciously flavorful cup of coffee ever !!! I am going back to Coyoacan before I leave just for another cup. I ordered a CapuchiMoka and it was choclatey(¿), caffeine, warmness in my mouth. Wow, Starbucks sucks soooo much, I don´t ever want to drink it again. On the other hand, this coffee was the best.

Before I finish this blog…actually I probably have another page to go… but I totally skipped out on the rest of the funness from Saturday night. So after the big DJ dance party on the streets, Nef and I continued to roam to the next part of town. We had no idea where to go but there was definitely a sense of the night being far from over. People were still in that celebratory mood. And we realized it was Mexica New Year as well.

Again we followed the lights, turned some corners, found nothing, turned around, and then … taz taz taz, thump thump, horns and guitar, drums and laughter… where is that coming from??? We crossed a couple streets and found the source !!! It was live reggae in some upstairs club called Cultura. So we went in for 25 pesos which is like $1.25 and continued to dance. The band was called Los Aguas Aguas. They are band from Jalapa, Veracruz and we were promised a place to stay whenever we make it out there (we have it on video, jajaja). They were so much fun and they played such good music. They called it reggae fusion and indeed it was ska, cumbia, and reggae all in one. Then the DJ continued with the music and we continued with the dancing. We were very tired after we got to our hotel room sometime around 3 A.M.

Well, I made this trip to Mexico City for the 11th Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Gathering. And it began yesterday with a full day of registration.

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There are womyn from allllll over Latin America; young, elder, queer, colorful, humble, righteous Cubanas, Indigenas, Bolivianas, Paraguayas, Nicaraguense, Salvadorenas, Panamenias, Brazileras, and Mexicanas !!!! It feels like -Nef and I are the only Chapina-Americanas, but none the less we are WOMYN and we are FEMINISTS. And it feels amazingly great. I am so grateful and I feel so blessed to be amongst such power. Wow… the rest of this calls for another blog. Estoy tan emocionada. And for now I need to leave this computer so I can be present in the rest of the conference. I needed to share my first couple of days. I will share the videos with you all, but it will have to be until I sit in front of my mac. Stay tuned to the blog, more pictures will come up. Especially since today I registered as part of the media and have access to their computer lab. I am currently surrounded by womyn photographers, producers, film makers, journalists, writers, and bloggers like me! I love Mexico City and I love Feminists!

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Amazingly Beautiful: Mujeres de Maiz 2009

9 Mar

03.08.09: Mujeres de Maiz is an annual production in Los Angeles for International Womyn’s Day going on for 12 years strong. This year was absolutely amazing! Mujeres de Maiz hosted their event titled, “LA SAGRADA | THE SACRED WOMYN” at the Farmlab/Metabolic Studios of Downtown L.A. This was a great space for this production that included Ceremonia, an Art Gallery, film screenings, Altares, 3 stages of music, poetry reading, teatro, comedy and dance. Outside you could find vendors, Tamales de Pina (Pineapple), and Live Art done by female Graff artists. The 7th Zine was also published and was on popular demand.

Programming began at the park, where it once stood as a cornfield. A beautiful ceremony honoring womyn and our ancestors began at sunset.

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Everyone then followed the dancers to the FarmLab, a place to explore, promote and create projects of self sustainability combined with art. Like this car !

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The Art gallery featured some of the most talented artists in Los Angeles. Here are but a few pieces of the amazingness in this room:

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This was a beutiful installation. Everything about it was wonderful, the dress was made out corn husks, and the center piece on the floor included the 4 colors of maiz (corn) representing the 4 directions and the 4 races on earth.

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This is a picture of the film screening taking place. imgp7390

Outside there was good healthy food  like the tasty mushroom and spinach quesadilla. There were many vendors such as jewelery designers, fashion designers, authors, health educators, and more. I was caught up in the moment and didn’t take a picture. But hey, you can’t blame me for all the wonderful distractions and beautiful energy that I had to take in.

These are but a couple of the performers on the outside stage which included Medussa and Australian Chicana Maya Jupitor.. The first picture is Josefina Lopez, play write and screen writer for “REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES”. She read several poems which included her “Ode to Boyle Heights”, “Journey to Los Angeles” and a reminder to us all that, “All Women are Beautiful”. I have to mention this piece dedicated to all her ex-boyfriends. The crowd could not stop laughing, it was titled, “My Low Self-Esteem Days” and it goes likes this:

Si te quise fue porque I had low self-esteem.

If I swore i’d always be by your side, was because I had nothing better to do.

Si te dije you were a great lover, was because I had nothing better to compare it to.

If I said you and me were meant to be, was because I thought I couldn’t find any better.

Si te Dije que te amaba con todo mi alma, was because I hadn’t found myself.

If you think that now that time has passed, and my low self-esteem days are gone, that I’m a bitch, a whore, a liar.

Well the go ahead!

Cause you ain’t my master, my father, my hero, my lover…

Shit! I ain’t even gonna bother… to address your remarks.

Time has proved me stronger, I don’d need your approval any longer.

So today I aint even gonna bother…

To let you know how good it’s been…

with out you.

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This might not be my best picture of Josefina but this picture demonstrates her power. She’s definitely one of my Sheros. She’s brilliant, intelligent, and savvy. Very intuitive and inspiring. I took a playwriting workshop with her, and although I did not finish my play, I found something even more important, i found my identity as a writer.

SKIM was also a featured performer this night. SKIM is another one of my Sheros. She is a Korean American Hip Hop artist fusing cultures and musical genres. She has a great voice, amazing lyrical wisdom, and radiant energy. She came out with 4 other artists holding Korean drums. SKIM sang a Korean ballad turned Hip Hop called, “SARANG”, which means LOVE. I can’t express how dope she is. She just is and if you haven’t seen her perform you need to track her down for her next performance.

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So I was also waiting for one of my favorite bands to play. I was so excited to see them. And i have been seeing people taking pictures with their cute and sexy pins. I bought a couple of them and took a picture so I can send it to them. This picture was taken by Riku (thank you), he kept taking candid pictures of me so I had to keep posing, and finally D’Lo jumped into the picture. Anyone that knows D’Lo does not find this strange, she’s all over the place but with purpose. Always funny and entertaining. By far one of my favorite comedians.

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Unfortunately, I had to leave early. I had to go to our planning meeting for LA REINA, so I really hope all of you catch this production on April 11th, because Street Inc. is putting in some madd good work. I was bummed that I left early and I didnt get to dance to the sounds of LA SANTA CECILIA. I have to go to one of their performances sometime before this month ends. I need to get my fix !

So i have run out of synonyms for amazing and beautiful. But I can not describe this event any different. It was an AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL event and it makes me proud to a womyn from L.A. And it also makes me believe that …

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Youth Leadership is alive and moving!

1 Mar

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Since I do not watch much T.V. and can not afford cable, I primarily watch two shows; The Simpsons and the Tavis Smiley Show on PBS. I am a fan of Tavis Smiley because his interviews are honest, insightful, intellectual, political, and funny. Half the time I do not know who he is interviewing, but I still watch it because I learn a lot from his guests and from Tavis as a television and radio host. I would be on his production crew in a heartbeat if given the opportunity

So driving around L.A., I began to see the bus stop ads for the State of the Black Union on Feb. 28. Tavis Smiley’s State of the Black Union is celebrating its 10th Anniversary. I registered online to attend but then I came across a scheduling mishap. So I couldn’t go…and just when that happened, I received an email to register for the Young Scholars Forum at USC from one my favorite informants/organizer/homie, Diana Flores, Program Coordinator at the Southern California Library (the PEOPLE’s Library). It was a pre-event to the SOBU hosted by Tavis Smiley.

I woke up early and headed out to the forum. I was given a ticket with a center front row seat with my name on it. The auditorium was filled with young people from elementary school students with their teachers to graduate students. It was an awesome sight. I did not have a camera or recorder but then I bumped into another amazing organizer, Leo Grandison of UCSC, and he let me borrow his camera (Those pictures are on their way… Thank YOU!!!)

I went to my front row seat and there was a guy with fancy, professional cameras who sat next to me. I figured he was a journalist/photographer of sorts. So I asked him about it and he says, “Oh, I work for a small company called the Associated Press.” I gave him the weirdest look and responded with, “SMALL????” He laughed and re-explained himself, maybe he thought I didn’t know who the AP was. Hello! They only write every other news piece that gets regurgitated over and over by every other news media outlet. Then he said, “You never know where life is going to take you, I went to school to get a law degree, and look at what I’m doing, I’m not using my law degree at all”. Well I definitely understood what he was saying, I can relate, you can’t deny yourself of your passions and creative endeavors and so we both concluded simultaneously, “It’s about your passion”.

Then the forum began… with a NAVY commercial… BUU!!!!! They sponsored the whole thing and I went in for free, ok that’s cool, but did they have to plaster their name everywhere… Then a group of four kids came out called ONE… and I laughed, “Who opened the door to them?” I kept wondering why they didn’t find a musical group more profound instead of talking about being at the bar, and they’re not even 21. They were a trendy poppy hip hop group from L.A. If it wasn’t for their cover of, “That girl is poison…” and their ending remarks about no dream is too far fetched, I would not have accepted it. Call me a critic, y que.

 

Then Tavis came out. He introduced the moderator for the forum,  Dominique Di Prima . She is the woman who hosted “Street Science” on 92.3 The Beat in L.A.. Now she hosts and produces “The Front Page” on KJLH. She asked some excellent questions from the panelists (also someone to take notes from) and asked about youth leadership, activism, hip hop culture, reclaiming expression, and optimizing our community endeavors during this era of Obama.

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The panelists/speakers were also amazing. They were on point in terms of being motivating and pushing the audience to really believe in our fullest individual and collective potential. I was impressed by all of them but I was especially impressed by:

Professor Alia Sabur, she is off the hook and the youngest professor in the world teaching mathematics and engineering. Her passion, is simply learning. She spoke about the challenges of being a leader as a woman, who’s short, naturally soft spoken, and young. I was inspired and reminded by her words that anytime you are doing something that you are not suppose to or expected to do, there will be people who do not like that. 

Tricia Rose, she use to teach at UCSC, but now she’s a professor at Brown University in the Afrikana Studies Department who writes about Hip Hop culture. She was very reaffirming in reminding us that Hip Hop is not something that belongs to corporate America. She said, “take it back, because it is our cultural expression that enables us to become our fullest.” She also said something funny that she calls the Hip Hop trinity, which is the gangster, pimp hoe complex that mainstream corporate hip hop suffers from. So for all the Hip Hop in the underground, we need to break ground, we’ve have been politically intellectually and lyrically depriving the masses. 

Jurnee Smollet is an actress (the Debators) whom I did not know of before but I gained a lot of respect for her because throughout her career, beginning at 13 years of age, she has stood up for her values. She is the youngest board member of Artists for a New South Africa which is a non-profit dedicated to combating HIV/AIDS, advancing human rights, safeguarding voting rights, and empowering children orphaned by AIDS. She was very involved with the Obama campaign and gave a lot of insight about the youth being responsible for Obama’s success. 

Maria Teresa Peterson is the founding director of Voto Latino. She was great. After another speaker talked about how young people are “seen, but not heard”, she made the point about how in Latino culture and in the over-all immigrant community, it is young people who have always been looked towards for leadership, knowledge, and translation. We have been listened to, we have been put in uncomfortable situations where we have to interpret to get things done for our family. I really appreciated her acknowledgement. She also mentioned how the historic immigrant marches were fueled by teenagers who sent text messages and myspace messages about walking out of school and participating in the movement. 

I was very inspired and re-motivated about where we are as a people in the movement for social change. We do need to take advantage of this era because we do not have one Malcolm X or one Rosa Parks, we have hundreds. Obama is not Jesus, but from his campaign to involve people at a very grassroots level, we can really keep going longer ways. I have a lot of faith in us. I have a lot of faith in young people. I love my youth whom I work with and I am very dedicated to their growth, even though it is they who teach me a lot every time I meet with them. I am a young person myself and this forum confirmed how everything I am doing at a creative level in voicing my mind and experiences through art, blogging, social networking, radio production, and now film, is what I need to be doing to contribute to our movement. I am documenting our movement and I do it with honor and privilege. I am blessed. And I can not deny this.

I am a powerful person in my own right. So I gotta keep doing what I am doing, following my heart and my passion.