Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

31 August 2010

Summer of Feminista: My parents planted a seed


Written by Melissa

I had a hard time writing this blog. When I first signed up I thought it was easy because of course I consider myself a feminist. Yes, I have created my own form of feminism. Yes, I am a feminist. Yes, I am a Chicana feminista! Then, I got to actually sitting around to brainstorm what to write and my head was all over the place. I don’t know if I was a feminista when I was younger or if I was ever raised by feminist ideals or if it was not until my Introduction to Feminist Studies and Chicana Feminisms class. No se.

Here’s the conclusion I came up with: I think I had a seed planted in me as a young girl, but it didn’t actually emerge until I took feminist studies classes. Who is responsible for this seed? I’m pointing my finger at both of my parents and I’m glad that they did. I was always angry because something didn’t feel right and I knew it wasn’t fair, especially having to see my parent’s struggle so much because they are undocumented immigrants. There was always one thing my dad always said to me, “Que no se te olvide de dónde vienes.”  My response was always, “Ya se pa’, ya me dijo tantas veces.”

The second semester of my first year in college I was enrolled in Introduction to Feminist studies - we read Gloria Anzaldúa’s “Borderlands,” and I couldn’t believe it! I had finally come across something in the academic world that I could really relate to from personal experience. Anzaldúa’s readings really hit close to home and that is where I learned: “the personal is political.” My experience as a daughter of Mexican immigrants was not to be ignored. No longer did I wish I was white and upper middle class like the rest of my classmates. I finally found a calm inside of me that was proud of who I am and just because I do not have certain privileges, did not mean that I could not achieve just as much as my classmates.

This idea was further reaffirmed the following semester when I took a Chicana Feminisms course, and the professor was simply amazing. A Chicana, born in Texas to a working class family and an academic! Her lectures, and required readings only made me love being myself. After taking both of these classes I reaffirmed the feminist seed inside of me. 

Being exposed to the readings, ideology and the wonderful professors that I have encountered has really challenged a lot of my ideas on what it means to be a twenty year old Mexican American/Chicana (or as one of my mentors said, depending on how political I am that day). I’m also a feminist who is proud of who she is and proud of her upbringing and most of all her parents. I appreciate what they have done and for showing me that no matter what obstacle we face in life, as long as we understand who we are and where we come from, there is no obstacle. Gracias mami y papi.



Summer of Feminista is a project where Latinas are sharing what feminism means to them. Positive. Negative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.

27 August 2010

Summer of Feminista: What does a Cuban feminist look like?


Written by Miriam Zoila Pérez, Founder, Radicaldoula.com and Editor, Feministing.com

The women in my Cuban-immigrant family are definitely feminist. I'm not sure how many of them would identify with the f-word themselves, but they were definitely my feminist role models. Let's start with my mom--an immigrant herself, who came from Cuba when she was only thirteen. After divorcing my dad when I was four, she's been a paragon of strength--raising two kids, a vibrant academic career. All on her own, all without a partner in her life. She I can pretty safely say would call herself a feminist. Her sisters though? Not as likely.

I didn't grow up under a banner of feminism--if my mom was an activist in the 70s, it wasn't under that banner either. But damn if the women in my family aren't strong as hell--and that taught me feminism loud and clear, even if I never knew the word until college (or maybe high school, but then only as an insult).
This quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding really struck me (courtesy of IMDB):
Toula Portokalos: Ma, Dad is so stubborn. What he says goes. "Ah, the man is the head of the house!"
Maria Portokalos: Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.
Now I wouldn't say the women in my family controlled the men in the way that quote implies--but they were definitely running the scene from backstage. I hate to say it, but the men in my family seem to have a pattern of being a bit of a mess. There is alcoholism, gambling, mental health issues, you name it. Maybe this is a product of being the exile generation? Either way, despite the fact that the men in my family always appear to be in charge, in control, leading things, its more often than not the women in my family who are really keeping things together, making sure things go smoothly, keeping their husbands, brothers and sons going.

That's not the ideal scenario, by any means, but it did give me some amazingly strong (feminist) role models to look up to. My abuela, my mom, my tia.

That might sound pretty gendered--but that's the way it is in my family, even with me, the queer daughter in the mix.

Again, these women didn't carry the banner of feminism, but they affected me for sure. It wasn't until college that I started using the label. I had one semester of intense college feminist activism. It was a semester that left me feeling burned out (typical!) and not so connected to my feminist peers who were at the time primarily straight and white.

I came back to feminism when I was finally in an environment and a movement that centered the Latina experience--working with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. It was at that organization (run and led by a young Latina) and in the reproductive justice movement that I was finally able to connect my immigrant experience with my feminist beliefs, and even see how they went together.



Summer of Feminista is a project where Latinas are sharing what feminism means to them. Positive. Negative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission

26 August 2010

Happy Women's Equality Day!

Today marks 90 years of women in the USA having the right to vote!

Because I've been running around like a fool this past week, I'm giving ya a graphical post made of things not of my creation. Enjoy!

What to Chicago women do when a British suffragist is in town? Postpone Thanksgiving dinner!  Image from The Society Pages. One of the awesome things about living in Chicago is that I know I'm raising hell in a city that has a long history of women raising hell. Click over to see the newspaper account of this postponed dinner.


Have you received the email about women & voting? Kinda surprised it hasn't found a new life in recent weeks. Either way, enjoy these images from that email and two that I took myself:

23 August 2010

I'm not a feminist but I sure can stick my foot in my mouth

Karoli at MOMocrats was trying to respond to an anti-feminist attack by Dana Loesch and instead stuck her foot in her mouth and offended feminists. Her offense? Her opening paragraph:
I am not a feminist. I am a woman who has assumed I have the same right as anyone else to choose my own course, make my own future, and do so on equal footing with men. I believe the government exists to serve citizens, not to act as an authoritarian axe or discriminate against one class of citizens over another.  I really don't care if moms stay at home or work. I've done both, both have advantages and disadvantages, and I'm not out to overturn patriarchy. I actually like men. I'm married to one. I get along well with them. Those who act like idiots don't get any attention from me. 
To which I tweeted:
Thanks to peeps sending me @Karoli's post but I stopped reading after she equated fighting patriarchy w hating men. *sigh*
Karoli and I had a good discussion on Twitter about this which resulted her in editing the paragraph and striking out some of the offense:

I've done both, both have advantages and disadvantages, and I'm not out to overturn patriarchy. I actually like men.  (see note below) I'm married to one. I get along well with them. Those who act like idiots don't get any attention from me.
Sadly this still leaves the whole "I can't be a feminist because I like men!" feel to it as one would hope you liked men enough to marry them. Good try though.

What I don't get is why someone who doesn't even call herself a feminist gives a damn what Dana Loesch has to say about feminism? I'm not linking to Dana's op-ed because it robbed me of precious time and brain cells and I love my readers too much. So in order to school Dana, Karoli dips into the well of feminist stereotypes:
  1. "I believe the government exists to serve citizens, not to act as an authoritarian axe or discriminate against one class of citizens over another." So feminists believe the government should discriminate against guys then, eh? 
  2. "I really don't care if moms stay at home or work"Ah, the mommy war card! Double points. 
  3. "I'm not out to overturn patriarchy. I actually like men. I'm married to one. I get along well with them." And the cherry on the top of this sundae. 
I've spent way too much energy wrestling with "I'm not a feminist but..." types. I don't do it anymore. I usually say, "Fine, don't call yourself a feminist. Your actions will speak louder than your label." Unless they slam feminists as a way to distinguish themselves as "not a feminist."

Karoli said that she was just trying to use snark to combat what Dana had said. This is why I hate snark. Snark is hard to control. I didn't read Dana's op-ed until AFTER I read Karoli's post. And even then, I didn't get most of the snark. I'm kinda un-hip in that way...Ditto for LOLCat talk.


Karoli knows that this post is coming, so I'm trying hard not to be a total bitch. She even apologized and I accepted it. But I'm trying to better explain how I felt when someone posts to an awesome blog like MOMocrats, is trying to freaking defend feminism against Dana Loesch and I feel more offended by her post than anything Dana said. If feminism needs defending, please leave it to the professionals, the women and men who do call themselves feminists, people who can rip Dana to shreds (hell, my 7yo can do that) without denigrating the people you are trying to defend.

22 August 2010

How many panels can a SXSWi'er pick?

It's that time again! SXSWi Panel Picker time! UPDATED on Monday, August 23, 2010

And once again, I have the honor of being part of one panel that is in contention:

Social Media: The Pink Collar Ghetto of Tech?

When Keidra approached me for this panel, I knew it was an awesome idea because I struggle with this question a lot. I'm jazzed at the idea of sharing space with Jason Falls (the story of how we met very much relates to this panel!) and Shireen Mitchell (we once had dinner & talked forever about this topic!). If you have a moment, click on over and vote. If you have 5 moments, please post a comment. Apparently the SXSWi gods like comments.

I'm also voting &commenting for others. Here is my list of panels that I've voted (and possibly commented on) for SXSWi:

First is Cinnamon's panel: Self Doubt: Kill It With a Skillet. If you missed her panel this year, it was a smashing success. 

Others
Why these? Some are organized by friends and some I just found interesting, thought provoking and I could see myself highlighting them in my conference packet to attend. Did I miss yours? Your favorite? Leave me a comment and I'll check it out. If I do like it, I'll add it to the list.

Hopefully I'll see ya in Austin.

    17 August 2010

    Summer of Feminista: Like (Un-Feminist) Mother, Like (Feminist) Daughter


    Written by Sally Mercedes

    I've been a feminist for as long as I can remember, and certainly long before I realized there was a word for it.

    I grew up in a house of mostly women: father, sisters, aunts who helped raise us, and an incredibly strong mother. In many ways, she’s a traditional (strict) Dominican mother, but she's also a bit of an outcast in her family because she speaks her mind and wanted more than marriage and babies for me and my sisters. I guess you could say she was setting things up for me.

    Fast forward a few years… In high school, I took a women’s literature class and it was the first time I realized you could study gender roles and the lives of women. In college, I took a Women’s Studies course and fell in love so hard that I decided to go down that scary double major path.

    Have you ever tried to explain a Women’s Studies major to Latinos? They try to translate it literally and wonder if the study of women has to do with health. You throw in the word feminism, and people look at you like your head just exploded – at least, my family did. Especially my mother, who, to this day, calls me a psychologist and completely ignores the other half of my college degree.

    So I make it my business to give my mother my very official feminist point of view on pretty much everything: education, labor, government, societal expectations, sexuality, and even Latino culture. Here’s where I admit that I’m often surprised at how much she agrees with me. Because of her traditional ways and because she never explicitly said she was a feminist when we were growing up, I had the completely wrong picture of her in my head.

    Okay, so maybe my mother still doesn’t understand what the hell Women’s Studies means, and she’ll never read bell hooks or Gloria Anzaldúa, but it’s now clear to me that she was with me all along. I’ve come to realize that I found feminism through my mother, and because of that, I don’t think I’ll ever really be able to shed the label, no matter how controversial it is in Latin@ circles.

    You don’t need the feminist label or a college degree to strive for women’s independence and feminist ideals. All my mother needed was three daughters to fight for, including one slightly obnoxious daughter who doesn’t let anything go.

    So call it whatever you want, just let it grow inside of you. I’ll keep calling it feminism and my mother probably won’t, and we’ll still agree more often than not. Meanwhile, I’ll keep trying to make her read Anzaldúa.


    Summer of Feminista is a project where Latinas are sharing what feminism means to them. Positive. Negative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission

    10 August 2010

    Early puberty is a great chance to fat shame girls

    For the record I got my first bra at age 8 or 9. It was kinda cool but quickly went to kinda embarrassing. Along with being the attention of a few of the boys, I started to gain weight. I went from the skinny tomboy to a round tomboy. Of course I wasn't fat, but I felt like it. Especially compared to the girls in my class who hadn't been smacked by puberty.

    Thus when I read and hear all the talk about girls being fat as the number one cause for early puberty, I am skeptical. I'm mostly skeptical because the impact of all the chemicals in our environment and hormones in our food chain are pretty much blown off. BPA? We jumped all over that baby. Why can't we do the same with all the other crap we're been ingesting since we were in our mom's wombs?

    I'm not saying that we don't have an obesity issue with our kids. They are eating too much, staying inside too much and not getting enough exercise. But for many of our kids, that's a systemic problem (violent neighborhoods, environmentally toxic neighborhoods), not so much a personal failure. So why must we blame girls and their families for something that just might be out of their control?

    I also fear the trickle down effect of blaming the girls for early puberty. Does that mean we can blame them when older boys and men glare at them? When they dress 'age-appropriately' in a hypersexualized society but still look slutty? And what if they do develop breast cancer later on?

    Puberty is tough for everyone, much less for an 8-year-old who just might have it in her genes not her fat that her boobs start budding, but will nevertheless be examined by her pediatrician and society to see if she's too fat and caused it all.

    As Dr. Walker on NPR noted yesterday, girls "know" that their weight can lead to onset of puberty and try to restrict their diet in an effort to keep puberty from happening. I fear that this news will only cause an increase in eating disorders that are self-inflicted as well as inflicted by parents fearing their daughters' growing breasts.

    What to do? Talk to our girls about their bodies and the changes that are pending. Talk to our boys about respecting those changes and the ones that they will soon be going through. And get to studying the impacts of all the crap in our ecosystem!

    09 August 2010

    Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice

    It's the first Annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice! And our prompt is:

    What's your contraception story?

    My family is Catholic, but I wouldn't say that I was raised Catholic since we didn't go to church on a regular basis. Now when I was in second grade I noticed that a lot of my friends were starting CCD classes, so I asked my parents if I could too. Well it was too late to start, so I had to wait until the next year. The priest lost his chance because the next year I was in third grade sitting in a class on Saturday mornings with second graders *rolling the eyes* and learning about Jesus.  I dropped out. I tell this story to set up the next part.

    When I was about 11 or 12, I asked my mom out right, "Why don't we go to church?" Her reply? "Because they say I can't use these," as she held up her birth control pills. We then had a short chat about how the Church was trying to control her and other women's lives. How she wanted to be the one to decide when and if she would have another baby (by this time, she had been pregnant 4 times and given birth 3 times with one miscarriage). And I think she ended it by saying that all women should be making this decision, not the church.

    And as they say, the rest is history.

    From that moment on I was firmly a pro-choice woman-child.

    My mom and I had similar talks about abortion and how she chose to have me as a partnered-yet-single-19yo-woman. Thanks Mom.

    But as my mom said, all women should be able to make their own decisions about when and if they become pregnant. One part of this equation is access to affordable birth control:
    All women need affordable access to birth control services, supplies and visits. However, barriers to low-cost or no-cost contraception are still an unjust reality. This results in many Latinas having to struggle to afford birth control or expensive insurance copayments for birth control.

    Urge your representative to ask the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support comprehensive family planning services that include contraception as a key women's health service under the Women's Health Amendment.
    Please act today! 

    A modified version appears at the Care2.com blog

    Summer of Feminista: Negotiating feminism with my mom


    Written by Audrey Silvestre

    I was going to write about the absence of women/queer/trans of color within the mainstream feminist movement, in women studies programs, and isolation that I have felt in “white feminist” circles. However, I decided that instead I would write about my negotiating of feminism within my household because that is really where change begins.

    Growing up I always had “feminist ideals” some were instilled in me by my parents but a lot of it was my own instinct or “gut feeling” that told me to stand up against injustice. Once I learned that there was a word for that “gut feeling” I grabbed the word and ran with it. FEMINIST! This word is my safe space. It is where I am able to make sense out of the world. However, taking the word/identity did not come easy. It has been a struggle at home, school, and my community.

    I come from a very big family I have five siblings (big “catholic” family). My mom would never call herself a feminist but she taught us and continues to teach us to be strong, self-sustaining, and to never give up. My mother like many others does not identify or see the point of feminism, she thinks that activism is a waste of time. When I first identified as a feminist I remember coming home from school and sharing with my family what I had learned. I remember feeling so empowered. My mom didn’t say much she just said, “ok, help me clean, wash the dishes.” As I was washing the dishes I continued on with my rambling. Days, weeks, went by and every time I learned something it was the same routine to come home and share. Then one day I was telling my mom that I was going to come home late because I was going to volunteer for “Take Back the Night” to which she responded, "Well, ok but I would prefer if you would come home instead and help me out at here.” I remember getting really upset and trying to explain to her why it mattered that we put this event together and how hard we had worked on it. I felt like she was missing the point. I realized that she wasn’t listening and I thought that she simply didn’t care. I didn’t understand at the time that my mom like many saw feminism as a “white women's cause,” I didn’t understand that even if the “Take Back the Night” rally had good intentions, at the end of the day in our community many girls/women/children are getting assaulted and no one is organizing a rally for them. My mom insisted that my activism was a waste of time because it didn’t solve any of her immediate problems. I have learned from my mother feminist concepts that I would have never learned in college. I learned to negotiate with my mother, and this taught me how to negotiate feminism with others. She also taught me to bridge my academic with the community. My mother and I still disagree on a lot of issues but we are trying to understand each other.



    Summer of Feminista is a project where Latinas are sharing what feminism means to them. Positive. Negative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission

    06 August 2010

    Summer of Feminista: Feminism Is Exhausting


    Written by Angelica Perez of Modern Familia

    There is this natural rebelliousness in me. Not the common type of rebellion. No drugs or illicit behaviors. No oppositional or conduct disorder – just a tendency to question, to challenge the status quo.

    I remember the first time I ever questioned a gender role issue. I questioned my mother. By the age of 12, I was beginning to be really bothered by a few observations. Despite her long day of work in a factory, my mother would hurry back home to cook a full meal, while my father read the newspaper in the living room. And when dinner was done, she would call my father first to the dinner table – “Luis, ven a comer, ya termine de cocinar…” His meal was always placed at the head of the table. And, to add to my confusion, she would always serve his dinner in separate plates: the rice on a fancy bowl, the beans on a smaller bowl, with the meat and salad to the side. All the items were neatly placed around a large empty plate in the middle. His utensils lay clean on a white napkin, next to a large glass of iced water. Conversely, the rest of us had our food piled on a bowl, and we sat on the side of the table. My mother would join us last at the dinner table. And on the days when she cooked chicken, I would notice that my father would get his favorite chicken parts, while mami would get the huesos (bones). For some reason, she managed to convince herself that she loved chicken bones. I still don’t believe her.

    So one day, she asked me to set the table for dinner. As I was about to put down my father’s plate, I turned around and asked: “Mami, why do you always serve Papi’s dinner first?” Without taking a moment to reflect, she naturally replied: “I serve your father first because he is man of the house…

    I recall this moment very clearly. I will never forget it. I am angry, still angry that my mother failed to seize that moment to pause and reflect. Her idea of my father as “the man of the house” was as ingrained as the roots of an old tree. All along, all those years, I had been watching. I was furious. That was not fair.

    Feminism, to me, means fairness. As I continued to grow up in a household where double standards and gender role inequalities were never questioned, I became increasingly allergic to sexist behaviors. Over the years, I became a fairness cop, sniffing and spotting any type of unfairness – sexism, racism, classism, ethnocentrism – in society, in my home, in my relationships. I still do. And it’s so exhausting. But no matter how wonderful and fair my husband is, I will admit that I still find myself silently (and not so silently) questioning every comment, motive or behavior that might smell like sexism. I question my husband’s tone of voice when he asks me “pass me that glass of water…,” and my son’s comment to his younger sister that “girls don’t play baseball…” I question society’s attitudes on motherhood and home-making. I question the sexist ads on magazines and on television. I question myself on how well am I raising girls who are strong, independent thinkers and confident in their God-given gender. I refuse to take my daughters to mass at church, until there is a woman standing tall and strong in a priest attire, surrounded by altar girls. And while I firmly believe in God almighty, I can’t seem to refer to God as a “he”…nor can I read passages in a bible that refers to men the same way my mother does. I resent that my son can go outside shirtless on a hot, humid day (my girls can’t do that).

    So to make things “even,” my 10 year old son does laundry, and helps clean the house; my 4 year old practices baseball with her ballerina tutu on. I don’t buy Barbies or cutesy dolls for my girls (my boys are more likely to get a doll from me), and I can’t stand the color pink.

    What am I afraid of, I ask myself? Ending up like my mother. I don’t want to eat the unwanted chicken parts, or sit last on the dinner table. I don’t want to live her life…But more than anything, I am most afraid of raising an angry daughter (like me) who sees the world as unfair, and sees women as brainwashed martyrs and men as potential assholes. So, exhausted, the rebellion continues…with no end in sight. That’s my feminism.


    Summer of Feminista is a project where Latinas are sharing what feminism means to them. Positive. Negative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission

    04 August 2010

    Summer of Feminista: Feminism Helped Me Understand Being Latina


    Written by Kerensa of The Bad Feminist

    For me, feminism helped me understand my Latina heritage. My sister and I grew up with my father refusing to teach us about the heritage and culture that defined part of who I was.

    We would go to the grocery store to listen to him speak Spanish and not explain what had been said. When I was unfairly treated by my fourth grade teacher, I didn't understand why. Years later, when I heard that she had problems with my dad serving on the school board, I could better understand why. In high school, I finally met my grandfather who lived in Mexico. I just remember how he looked like a taller version of my papa. I spoke a few words of muddled Spanish to him; I couldn't even communicate with my own blood.

    Going to visit aunts and uncles and family friends, my sister and I always felt outside. We didn't fit. Our cousins would try to speak with us and then look at our blank faces. "Why can't you speak Spanish?" "I dunno," we responded.

    It's not like I felt especially included or connected to my other culture. Watching Beverly Hills 90210 made me feel bad about myself. The Mexican girls at school wouldn't hang out with me, but neither would anyone else. I grew up completely whitewashing over my culture.

    When I got to college, I took a women's studies intro class and devoured it. I took a Chicano poetry class and was challenged and excited.  College opened me up to writers like Anzaldua, Cisneros, Alvarez, Moraga. I could understand my experiences as a Mexican-American woman through these books and classes I took.

    While I'm still learning and I still feel like I don't fit in either world, for me feminism helped me to understand my experience and culture better. And I'm thankful for that.


    Summer of Feminista is a project where Latinas are sharing what feminism means to them. Positive. Negative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.

    03 August 2010

    Lies, Lies and Violence Statistics

    As a math nrrd, I'm a tad obsessed with the use of stats in public discourse, especially when being used in political debate. Lately I feel like all I hear about are stats about violence going up or down or perhaps into the fourth dimension.

    Here in Chicago, many of FEEL that we're going through a very violent summer. Shootings here, there, everywhere. We had another violent weekend and ABC7Chicago reported on it by heading down to Garfield Park and talking to a long time resident. He goes on to talk about how he can SEE violence going up. Then ABC7-Chicago splashes these stats up on our screen


    while quoting the Chief of Police that violence and homicides are down in 2010.

    Did you see that? ABC7-Chicago gets a man in Garfield Park to discuss violence in his neighborhood and the ABC7-Chicago gives us stats for Chicago as a whole, as does the Police Department. This man could very well be correct, as could the police.

    So I headed over to EveryBlock Chicago to churn the stats myself. First off, the stats that EveryBlock has seem to be just off from those that ABC7-Chicago has access to. But I think they tell the same story.

    In 2009, Chicago had 250 homicides from Jan 1 to Aug 1. In 2010, Chicago had 224.

    EveryBlock has Garfield Park divided into East and West, so I added the two neighborhoods together since the gentleman in the ABC7-Chicago clip identifies as from Garfield Park.

    In 2009, Garfield Park East+West had 9 homicides. In 2010 they had 18.

    In my neighborhood, we're steady at one homicide in 2009 and in 2010.

    This is why I hate stats. And why we all need to take a good stats course or simply listen to the news close enough to know when they are comparing the city at large to a neighborhood.

    Or in the case of Rachel Maddow, comparing a demographic to a city to a county to a state. Yes, my lil math nrrd head was spinning last night!




    She plays a clip where Senator Kyl is suggesting that violence is up for "some parts of the citizenry" in Phoenix and then Maddow goes on to show stats for property and violent crimes in the STATE of Arizona. I love ya Rachel, but come on, at least get stats for Phoenix. Sadly, EveryBlock isn't in Phoenix.

    I don't think that this slight of hand is done maliciously.It's easy to find a stat that fits your angle and use it. But we need to hold everyone accountable. From our local news to the beloved Maddow, it's not just FOX who can spin a stat into proving that the world is coming to an end...or isn't.

    EVENT: Women's Empowerment Summer Film Series

    Sundays, August 15 and 22


    The Chicago Foundation for Women and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs are partnering to bring some amazing films to Chicago.  Each screening will be followed by a post screening panel discussion organized by local Chicago organizations engaged in the issues explored in the film. Admission is free, and seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis.

     Films to be featured in the screening series include:

    MADE IN L.A. (70 minutes) - showing Sunday, August 15, 12 p.m.
    Co-Presented by Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) and Korean American Resource and Cultural Center
    Documenting the lives, struggle and personal transformation of three Latina garment factory workers over a tumultuous three year period, MADE IN L.A. artfully reveals the challenges facing immigrant workers and explores the dramatic and complex impact of globalization on the U.S. apparel industry and its largely immigrant workforce.
    Website/trailer: http://www.itvs.org/films/made-in-la

    TAKING THE HEAT (54 minutes) - showing Sunday, August 15, 2:30 p.m.
    Co-Presented by Chicago Women in Trades and Women Employed
    They faced death threats on the job--some from the men they worked alongside. With the story of Captain Brenda Berkman of the Fire Department of New York at its core, TAKING THE HEAT explores the history of women firefighters in America and the price they paid to serve their communities.
    Website/Trailer: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/takingtheheat/

    GOING ON 13 (73 minutes) - showing Sunday, August 22, 12 p.m.
    Co-Presented by Alternatives, Inc., Girls in the Game and Women and Girls Collective Action Network
    From Tweety Bird to Bow Wow, double dutch to chat rooms, Daddy's girls to first deceptions, watch as Ariana, Isha, Rosie and Esme let go of childhood and fumble--or sprint--toward an uncertain future. This is puberty and for each of these girls of color, it's a whirlwind of change and new choices. Without flinching, GOING ON 13 enters their world as they negotiate the precious, precarious moments between being a little girl and becoming a young woman. Website/trailer: http://www.itvs.org/films/going-on-13

    TROOP 1500 (55 minutes) - showing Sunday, August 22, 2:30 p.m.
    Co-Presented by Chicago Legal Advocates for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM) and Health & Medicine Policy Research Group
    At the Gatesville Prison in Texas, a unique Girl Scout troop unites daughters with mothers who have been convicted of serious crimes. Facing steep sentences from the courts and tough questions from their children, the mothers in TROOP 1500 struggle to rebuild relationships with the daughters who endure a childhood without them.
    Website: http://www.itvs.org/films/troop-1500
    Trailer: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/troop1500/

    02 August 2010

    Summer of Feminista: Family of Feministas


    Written by La Fourth Generation Feminista

    I come from a long, long line of strong women. Each one different in their strength, but feministas without question – though I doubt all of them would claim to be.

    First, there is my great-grandmother, my bisabuela, who was one of five kids born in Mexico. She once told my mother that her family was so poor, that she remembered having to eat the banana peels thrown out by the richer families. And she wasn’t exaggerating, either. I suspect that this memorable event is where her love affair with la comida was born. She was the most extraordinary cook, and later became the owner of one of the best restaurants in Dallas, Texas. She told me that as a child, one of her favorite things to do was to sit en los mercados de San Luis Potosi and watch the women cook. She would sit for hours, quietly memorizing every ingredient that las mujeres used in their rich, spicy dishes… and eventually became la cocinera for her familia. She was very proud of her talent with food and the opportunities it created for her. (Family legend has it that she once fed Pancho Villa and his men, who passed through her town. For real? ¿Quién sabe? But it’s a good story!) Despite her great skill, she was one of the most humble, loving, peaceful, and religious people I have ever had the fortune to meet. She truly was a good person on the inside and the outside. Never did she forget the poverty and suffering that she and her family had experienced when she was a child. Always compassionate and giving, she gave strict orders never to turn away anyone who came to the restaurant asking for food. Her greatest joy came from taking care of others…especially if that included cooking! Was she a feminist? In my eyes yes, because of her strength, compassion, entrepreneurial spirit, determination and success.

    Eventually, she immigrated to the US, got married and had six children: five boys and a girl. That girl became my grandmother. My Abuela grew up in a difficult time when there was a lot of racism in her city. Her brothers were repeatedly harassed and one was even beaten terribly by the police when he was walking home from work one day. She developed an incredibly strong (almost spiteful) sense of cultural pride that led her to become a leader in the community for cultural events. She often fought for the rights of Latinos and worked hard to get herself into a position where she could run the show. Where as my Bisabuela showed an inner strength that was gentle and born of spiritual beliefs, my abuela was oftentimes tough and hard, molded by some of the bitter lessons of her youth. She eventually became a woman who felt that her way was the best way and could be very unyielding. But she did care about the Latino people deeply, and she tried very hard to help them whenever she could.

    My mother was a child of the 50’s and 60’s. When I think back about what she was like as I was growing up, I am surprised at the change in her outlook. When I was a child, she struggled to find herself and her independence. She divorced my father when I was only two and landed a permanent job in communications. I think that for a long time she was trying to find out who she was exactly, and when she took this job, she finally found her voice and began to discover her own desires and views. Today she is an opinionated woman, who is quick to argue her own thoughts and, I have no doubt, she would call herself a feminist without exception. She’s not afraid of offending others (and often does) nor does she allow the thought of making other people angry get in the way of her standing up for her rights or the rights of others.

    And then there is me. Do I embrace the feminista inside me? Absolutely. She has been carefully built by my observation of my family, but she is tempered by the belief that everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and viewpoints. I cringe at the idea of telling another person that they believe in the wrong political party or religion, because to my way of thinking, that may be the best path for them to take. I do believe that everyone is entitled to make their own choices, provided it is not at the expense of someone who is weaker or at a disadvantage. I definitely have an internal drive to do the best that I can, but I don’t feel compelled to argue that I am always right, or to defend my own decisions. I do what I want, and if you don’t like it, that’s okay. I don’t see compromise as a weakness, but rather the opposite. I know when to choose my battles, and when to let the little things go. BUT I have inherited my family’s sense of cultural pride and feel very strongly about helping those who are less fortunate or who are discriminated against.

    So I am thankful. Thankful to each of these ladies who I have known so intimately, and from whom I have been able to choose the qualities that I most desire to nurture and develop within myself.



    Summer of Feminista is a project where Latinas are sharing what feminism means to them. Positive. Negative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.

    01 August 2010

    Seven Years

    Seven years ago I woke up in labor pains, gentle but strong labor pains. I say gentle in hindsight. Here's what I wrote on my now-defunct baby blog on August 4, 2003:
    The condensed version of her birth story is this: 19 hours of labor starting at 2 am on Friday. I was able to get to 8 cm dialated before even hitting the hospital and that was at 9 am. My midwife thought that since I was able to get that far, Elizabeth shouldn't be taking too much longer. WRONG. I got stuck there until 2 pm when it was made clear to me that 1) I was exhausted and 2) not progressing, so I got an epidermal. Yes, I made it 12 hours without drugs - good for most, a little disappointing for me. But it bought me about 4 hours of sleep and then at 7:30 pm I started pushing. Elizabeth came into this world at 8:53 pm.

    I really didn't think I was going to be able to do it. I think I was breaking my midwife's heart as well...she said I was about 30 mins away from a c-section, but had faith I could do it. I really couldn't have done it without the hubby and all the wishes and fab thoughts of friends, on and offline. 
    Seven years later I would say the same thing. I couldn't have gotten this far in mamahood without the love and support of my friends who I see in person and those whose love comes through hi-speed connections. It really does take a village to raise a child and in today's connected world, that village is a bit bigger than I ever would have expected.