Picture in response to Reading the Body

 

This is my first tattoo out of two. When someone sees it they don’t know the meaning behind it. They don’t know that story. Every scar, scrape, tattoo, birthmark on my body has a story. But these little spots on my body are only parts of the big picture that is my unique story. Everyone has marks on their body that we automatically look at if it’s visible. These markings on our bodies make up who we are! And whether it’s a stretch mark or mole, these “imperfections” are perfect. We must embrace every part of our bodies because our body is a forest- ever growing and changing. Our bodies are sacred to us and we need to keep our negative thoughts about the little spots on us in the back of our heads. My tattoo may not be for you, but it’s for me and that’s why it’s there. Because I love it and that’s all that matters.

Pssst

Pssst!

What a beautiful body. God bless you mami.

Where I come from, un piropo is like a how are you.

You get it everyday, at anytime, anywhere.

 

Pssst!

What a beautiful body. God bless you mami.

If you pay attention to it, you are considered a whore,

or they assume that you want somenthing with them.

If you don’t, you get insulted for ignoring them.

 

As we grow up we start to understand that enough is enough.

We don’t want to hear the…

 

Pssst!

What a beautiful body. God bless you mami.

Because through these lines we ask ourselves at some point,

“Since when does physical maturity signal that your body is available to any men at any time?”

 

Unknown

Dear the Unknown,

 

I used to be afraid of what would happen if I did not know what was next or not knowing the unknown. I was worried because sometimes the unknown is scary and we might not take chances but dear Unknown, I do not know you but I am thankful for all the advice you have given me.  Teaching that you can start small but always grow to be a better woman. When reading this I thought about my sorority, when I finished started my journey I never knew what my days consisted of but I know that one day I would be a great person. Just like you I knew I needed support, especially being a minority; being a woman. I remember when I was also biting through, being the first in my family to go to college at first was very hard; I was depressed. But, the Unknown can never cease to exist; it is always there in the back of your mind, watching, learning, waiting for the perfect time to manifest into a something new ask yourself questions like: “what will happen next?”, or how will I die?”

What I do know is that I want to die leaving my legacy behind. When I read about being a Latina and try to explain that to other people they will never understand, because you if you do not understand the unknown you will never understand the position you stand in.  No matter how hard you strain for us Latinas to be equal, you will never truly understand what being sad about who you are, what is at the bottom, IF there is a bottom or what could be staring you right in the face can make you FUERTE! Tu sabe the biggest fear to all humans is the fear of the unknown, but for me it has always been something that excites me.

Throughout my life, I have faced multiple obstacles placed in front of me, with each success and failure shaping the person I am today. However, in life like the Unknown has always followed us Latina because we were always targeted or forced by society hate who we are and how we are judged. For me, I continued with my battles of being Latina. I was placed in many situations where being myself and what I STAND for did not matter but afterwards but if it was worth it all!

So, dear Unknown thank you for tough messages that you would send my way but for also being there in silence giving me as a Latina advice to grow against all the odds against me. I am better than my limits and when you pass by again Unknown I hope you are ready to chat because I have a lot to say and I am grateful and I hope that you can stay. Stay to excite me for your next move and how that will reflect me and you, as we BITE through the hard times and work together to love you, us, and the unknown.

 

Resilient,

Menorka

 

Feminism for who?

Luz del Alba Acevedo in her testimony, “Speaking Among Friends: Whose Empowerment, Whose Resistance?’ displays the challenges and contradiction between feminism race and ethnicity in implementing new curriculums to undergraduate studies focusing on women studies.

This reading provoked in me the most interesting of reactions because I had never read anything on this topic before. I think it would be great in the United States could incorporate a nation wide “basic” curriculum for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Women Studies.

I would like to point put the distinction the author makes between “what a woman is” and “who we are as women”(page 251).

I feel that the transition that Luz del Alba Acevedo mentions from being invisible to being the visible minority might be an experience that many of the “other” might experience when they arrive to this country, however sometimes is not always in the same way for everybody. I have a personal experience to share, before moving to the United States I was always Costarricense, if somebody (not that I remember anyone doing it) asked where I was from, Costa Rica that would be the answer, simple as that. I had always lived with Costarricenses around me.

When you separate yourself from the comfortable space is when you start realizing who you are. Oh the first thing here when I was applying for school, how would you describe yourself?

Latino, White, Asian, Other.. I was in my head like “hmm I am white”, I associated whiteness to the color of one’s skin, not to race nor ethnicity..

Who defines diversity? After these profesoras find themselves with this puzzle, a new code for the “other” is created “women of color” I wouldn’t necessarily say Asian are people of color, then we go again with the differentiation between color, and ethnicity. Luz argues how her professionalism was shadowed by the university’s need to fulfill their inclusion and multiculturalism quota.

It is amazing how whiteness would mostly be associated with patriarchal power regardless of gender. I cannot believe the whole women’s studies faculty would team up against a professor that challenges their ideological teachings, instead of acting as professionals in their field they behaved as petty ignorant people.

The Idea of The “Temporary” Latina

I found Ruth Behar’s testimonia about her anxieties about being a “temporary” Latina as so relatable and also pertinent to my upcoming paper on the liminality of Latina identity. She said that she never felt comfortable fully self-identifying as Latina because of her light skin and her Jewish heritage. Because of that, she felt that when it came to conversations about expanding the definition for Latino/a, her input wasn’t necessary or productive. I am in a slightly different situation, as I’m only half-Mexican and have only been to Mexico a dozen or so times in order to visit mis abuelos. But still, although I have a heavy ethnic connection to my Mexican roots, there are obvious privileges I must be fully conscious of. Although I agree with Behar on the notion that the term Latino/a should be expanded in order to unite instead of stratify the community, but at the same time I must recognize that my light skin means that being a dominant voice in discussions would mean speaking over latinx people who have a more nuanced view due to their multifaceted identities that include a more prominent racist and xenophobic experience living in the U.S.

But I cannot deny that I haven’t been singled-out for my Latinidad when it was made apparent. The thing is, even if I am not visibly Latina, once I openly disclose my latinidad it becomes a very real and prominent aspect of the way in which others interact with me. When people see me as a ethnically White woman, I am tenacious, respected and driven, but when I am seen as Latina, I am bossy, over-achieving and possessing an agenda. It’s especially hard when navigating certain academic circles, because focusing on topics of misogyny, xenophobia and racism (especially under our current political climate) is just seen as me being a nuisance and overly-political. Sometimes I feel like it is also seen as if my Latina identity is a performance, and that sometimes my peers and professors would just wish I would embrace my “white side” as a means for them to respect me and my academic pursuits more in lieu of having to treat me differently based on my self-proclaimed Latina ethnicity. This is why I want to continue working towards highlighting the insecurities of Latinas that exist in a state of liminality due to their skin color and language, not so that they become the recipients of pity or the subjects of a discourse of ostracization, but rather so that they (or should I say we) have a more cohesive idea of what our role in the Latinx community is (perhaps bridgework?).

Response to “The Christmas Present”

Sam,

I know you are no longer the person you once were but do you know the damage you have done? She was crying for help and I’m not sure you realize how much you made her suffer. You took her life at sixteen. She had so much going for her, so much she could be.
Two years later your child lay wrapped in her arms. In those moments she was untouchable but as soon as baby Christian went to abuela she was yours.
Yours to fuck, yours to beat, yours to destroy.
Pobrecita.
I remember the day she came to us. It was Jimmy’s birthday and we were all in Connecticut. Christian was with abuela.
I was seven and Katherine was eight. Angelito by Don Omar played in the background. She was eighteen.
I know you are no longer the person you once were but do you realize how desperate someone has to be to seek help from a couple of children?
Pobrecita.
She showed us her scars and pointed out her bruises. Con sus ojos lleno de lagrima, me dijo, This is where Sam hit me. The lashes were scattered across her back. At each curve black, blue, and purple were splattered, deep in color.
¿Y como que íbamos entender? Diablo. ¡Tuve siete años!
Katherine and I just stared as the song played in the background…
Amaneció bajo las alas de la muerta. Aquellos brazos de hombre que la aprietan fuerte.. Y vuela, vuela vuela. Angelito vuela. Que ya no me queda muchas horas de vida…
And that’s when you walked in.
What the fuck are you doing? you said as you unbuckled your belt.
I remembered every time papi would take off his belt.
It meant she was in trouble.
It meant she was getting a pow-pow.
It meant Sam was going to give her a real reason to cry about.
And that’s when you hit her.
I know you are no longer the person you once were but she was crying for help, she was suffering, she was scared. You’re lucky she’s still with you. Appreciate her and teach Christian to never become the person you were. Please.

-Michelle

The invisible woman

Today I want to scream for the invisible woman

I write a poem for the best artist of the disguise,

for you that pretend that you don’t exist

I shout to destroy eternally the mask

That covers the emerald that guard your fears

Shout to the society that has stereotyped the woman

In a mannequin of rigid measures reached by few

You are present, you are threatening to those

who are afraid of such power

I challenge you,

To abandon the prejudices

Stop repeating the same phrases that

We have heard until weary,

Free yourself from the diminish

Stop being invisible

Cadenas

When I was younger I wanted so badly to be a man, I did not want to be a woman that everyone tells what to do or how to act. In my home I was free to be as “machona” as I wanted to be but as soon as I stepped out of my house I felt unprotected, I felt pointed out, I felt minimized.

I have two brothers that I love with my life, I am the middle child but my mother sees me as the big child because of my attitude. As a child I only had amigos hombres because I was always out with my brothers. I played soccer with them, I was the referee in many of the games, I was one of them and I felt great until I started noticing the gaze of the neighbors. I noticed in their face the expression of worry and listened how they talked about me and my parents: “how their parents let her be with so many boys” and the inevitable “she should be with girls playing dolls”. I hated that about me, I HATED BEING A WOMAN, I hated so much, not because I didn’t like dolls because I love them but for the small talks, for the roles that they already had for me.

One day I was crying because my mother didn’t let me go out with my brothers, she didn’t want that people talk about me. That day I felt minimized, I felt less but the same day I felt great. My brothers had a talk with me, they told me that I always will be invited in their games and that I should never cry because of the chismes “ellos no saben lo que hablan”.

Since that day I never cry for being who I am: A WOMAN.  I am still learning about myself and I love it. Right now for me being who I am is power, is a poem, is everything.

My Testimonia

My testimonia to Alchemies of Erasure:

 

I resonated extremely with the idea of being invisible because as a Latina woman, I am marginalized and often depreciated. My mother has always pushed education on me because unlike the privileges, entitlements, and chances I am stripped of because of who I am, nobody can ever rob me of my intellect. I have worked so hard to be where I am today. I have had to push past the stereotypes, stigmas, expectations, and limitations that this authoritarian society has put onto me. I knew that if I wanted to be released from the grips of society’s chains, I would need to do so through education. It is true that “when a woman has to be made invisible, it is because she is powerful, and her presence reverberates, touching everything in its path” (p. 167). I believe that because I have seen it with the many powerful women in my life: my abuela Mimi, my Titi Vivian, Titi Cookie, Titi Millie, my cousin Jessie, my cousin Elyse, and especially through my mother. These women have impacted my life in one way or another and have helped me become who I am today through their endless support, encouragement, and most importantly, through their incessant love. “Whether by her beauty, her spirit, her intellect, her capacity for loving, her conscious witnessing, her creative rebelliousness-called-madness, her liberating laughter, her voice-seeking-truth, her difference, she has not gone unnoticed” (p. 167) If not for them, I would not see the beauty within myself, understand the power of my intelligence, know the differences between right or wrong, nor understand the importance of lifting others up and loving others. I may be invisible to the world, to those who choose not to see me, but I know who I am and I know the power I hold. I think the hardest part of being invisible was trying to convince myself that I am worth so much more than stereotypes and negative connotations. I am an educated Latina woman, a learner and lover of life, someone who loves to laugh, I am a published poet, I love to write, and I love empowering others who have not yet escaped their invisibility. “The fearful ones will do anything to destroy what makes them cower” (p.167) Have you seen the news lately? Sally Yates, first a powerful woman, then the (now former, seriously?) attorney general, fired because she declined to defend something that she believed is and IS wrong. Are we supposed to silence our voices for your merrymaking?  Angela Merkel, first powerful woman, then Chancellor of Germany, no handshake from Mr. Not My President. Are you afraid you might actually get a brain and some sense through a handshake?  All I can say is, my invisibility has been forced onto me, but I have been fortunate enough and privileged enough to not succumb to any negative impositions placed onto me by those who still do not consider me, or my brothers and sisters to be 100% percent human. I will not be subjected to the ⅗ standard of my humanness. I am a whole being, an entire entity, an intelligent woman, a person. I ask that people open their minds and burn the invisibility cloaks; this is not a never-ending exhibition of Harry Potter, this is life. Be seen, be heard, be strong, be you.

 

Extra Credit: Arisleyda Dilone

Arisleyda Dilone’s short documentary Mami, Yo y Mi Gallito was very interesting to watch. What stood out to me the most during the film and discussion was the concept of identity. Although I am not intersex, I was able to relate to Arisleyda Dilone. Her relationship with her mother was what really brought this relationship out. Her mother discussed what it is to be feminine in the film. To her, it meant looking pretty and wearing makeup. It was the stereotypical idea of a girly girl and it fit all of societies standards. My mother feels the same way. Every time my mom would find me wearing men’s clothing she’d tell me, “Mija, esa ropa es para barones. No te miras bien con eso puesto.” Contrary, every time I’d walk downstairs with my makeup done and a dress on she’d say, “Wow, mija! Te miras bien bonita. Eres igual a mami, ¿no?”
I identify as a woman, but I don’t seem to understand why I have to fit into the societal norms of what it is to be a woman. If I like the way a certain article of clothing looks, it doesn’t matter to me whether it meant to be for a boy or girl. The same goes for behavior. Having to be passive, sensitive, emotional, or caring just because it’s what my gender is supposed to do is absurd to me. Hearing Dilone’s experience with gender norms and her mother’s opinion on it was very relatable and interesting to think about.