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Calling upon the Chicano Pope to Reflect

How was the Chicano Pope chosen? Did I miss the anointment ceremony? The Chicano Pope proudly grinds the biggest axe to attack those who do not heed his mandates and demand for complicity. This is a call for the Chicano Pope to thoughtfully engage in the issue of accountability.  After all, it was the Chicano Pope who wrote, “What is so frustrating about politics is that there is so little accountability. We can continually screw up as my students would say and are not accountable. Because we as a society are ahistorical, we are unable to sort out the lies that our leaders tell us or correct our own errors…The biggest obstacle to furthering a Chicano, Latino, or anything you want to call it agenda is a lack of accountability.” Wise words but is the Pope exempt from heeding them?

The Chicano Pope feigns objectivity and freely admits that “In times like these I have found myself trying too hard, and becoming a motivational speaker instead of a teacher, relying on what some may call hyperboles to make my point.” He also proclaims that he is “protective of the legacy of the sixties.” Is the Chicano Pope trying to suppress intellectual inquiry that does not fit into his hero making narratives?  Are the accusations that Reies López Tijerina molested one of his children off limits? Or does this history not matter?  A few months ago the Chicano Pope openly encouraged us to embrace another “martyr” by boasting, “Based on my reading of history the stock of Sean Arce will reach epic levels. If he were living in California or Texas there would have been at least a half dozen corridos (ballads) written about him.”  The Chicano Pope has been silent on this issue, why?

Maybe the Pope “dreads” going to NACCS in San Antonio because for the last two years he has used the organization to peddle charlatan leaders who silenced and threatened those who disagreed in Tucson. Or does this history not matter?  People donated to ethnic studies and defense funds because the Chicano Pope had blessed these fundraising efforts.  Are these organizations going to offer yearly reports that detail where all the funds were spent?  The Chicano Pope asked us to donate to these causes and held the collection basket in his hands as he blessed those who reached into their pockets. Where is the accountability?

The Chicano Pope has made it clear that, “If people would be held accountable, this would put people on notice.”  Chicano Pope, this is your notice.  You have sold Chican@s short and out.  The paper trail you leave in this lifetime grows each time you lead the Chicano choir in nationalist hymns and engage in perverted reasoning aimed at silencing dissent in order to achieve a “Wonderful Life.”  What you offer is delusion.

Stop using smoke and mirrors to encourage ignorance and to discourage deeper examinations into shameful, antifeminists and homophobic histories. Stop casting stones against your CSU Northridge colleagues, NACCS and anyone who disagrees with you. And, realize that you do not have the power to dictate where outrage should be directed. This message is also a call for the Chicano Pope to examine his conscience. Stop seeking conformity.  Embrace new ways of thinking and listen to youth instead of preaching to them. This is hard to hear because your narcissism gets in the way, but Chican@ Studies will not crumble if you retire. New forms and people will step in and build on what it is and once was.  And, yes, it might even be better. Don’t be a Chicano Pope who presses for the conservative and traditional.

Step aside.

It is time.

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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Chicano Movement

 

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Mother to Son: familial obligations & roles as wombyn

It is almost humorous how our rolls have changed.

malintZINE wasn’t the beginning of recognition on part of the injustices against Chicanas by their fellow Chicanos, but has been a catalyst to verbally combat the hetero-patriarchy that has thrived within the Ethnic Studies movement for too long.

Privilege is not an easy thing to give up, so it is not surprising to the wombyn of color that those who have been proud of their power status feel targeted, victimized, and wronged.  When the oppressed finally point out the oppressor, his first move is to be defensive and lash out.

We really thought you were better than that, because you preach the core of Tucson’s ethnic studies where ever you go. In Lak Ech (you are my other me), panche be (seeking the root of the truth), and most importantly, re-humanizing through a de-colonial anti-violent framework.

Wombyn have been accused of aiding the patriarchy that so demeans them. Articles published by allies are accused of irony as a deflection from the real problem. When other men step up and point out the macho bullshit that is frequently used by their brothers in every day dialogue, there is no comment from the perpetrator.

This type of hypocrisy is ill-informed and truly divisive.

The wisdom of wombyn allows the idea that generational oppression can take some of the blame for the indecencies that continue today. Boys are taught by men how to be men and how to be man is to not be woman. It is a vicious cycle that has been used as an excuse for the behavior of today, synonymous with the whites excuse for the treatment of peoples of color. The continued ignorance of the commonalities of these inequalities is astounding, considering white supremacy is a main topic of discussion of the good ol’ boys club. Tezcatlipoca is self-reflection. Practice what has been preached for so long, or learn to listen to others who’ve not had the privilege to continuously reflect and practice self and communal care.

We’re not asking much, besides our voice be respected, and we’re being polite. We should not have to ask for a place to speak when we were brought into this world to be the force that holds you in your place – our traditional role as caregivers, teachers, and mothers. We’re not asking for you to relinquish all that you’ve accomplished, we’re just asking that they stop using our backs as a platform to stand on while you rub our noses in what you won’t give us credit for.

We’re not your bitches.

We want the men in this movement to acknowledge all we have sacrificed to continue this struggle next to them, even though they have continued to walk in front of us. We want more than politically correct apologies. We want more than the discussion of May 3rd at a TUSD board meeting, the only macho documented injustice against wombyn that is supposed to serve as a deflection to a white man for what our brown brothers do to us every damn day. We want your unwarranted support, as we have given you ours. We loved you like sons, brothers, fathers and you have treated us like disposable objects. We are saying no more, and we mean it this time.

This is more than just a time-out.

This is us shoving a mirror in your fucking face and demanding you see who you really are.

Yes, we are being aggressive.

Yes, we are using force.

And yes, we are silencing you.

Please tell us, how does it feel?

 

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The Fight for Ethnic Studies Beyond Heteropatriarchy and Male Privilege: a Call to Address & End Violence in all its Forms

By Raúl Alcaraz Ochoa | Tucson, Arizona | http://www.antifronteras.com

“Gender violence must be understood within larger systems of capitalism, settler colonialism, white supremacy, and heteropatriarchy… One of the major contradictions in political mobilization is that we often replicate the same hierarchical systems we claim to be dismantling. Gender violence is prevalent within progressive movements as it is in society at large.”

(Andrea Smith. “Introduction” The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities, pp. xiv-xv)

As Mexicano/Chicano born men, we come from a long legacy of beauty, but also one of colonization, gender violence, and resistance. As working-class brown cis-males (non-transgender men), we are oppressed through class and race, and those of us that identify as GBTQ (gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer), are oppressed through sexuality and gender as well. Within white supremacy, capitalism, and colonialism, we have been abused and victimized, and through male privilege, and the system of heteropatriarchy, we are perpetrators and abusers.

Heteropatriarchy (straight male supremacy) is all around us—in our personal/political lives. Whether it is in our homes and neighborhoods, and in movement-building in the struggle to defend Ethnic Studies, or to resist anti-migrant attacks such as SB 1070, (In)Secure Communities, or mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex, patriarchy and sexism are widespread.

As men we receive privilege from this system of oppression. The list of examples of privilege include (but are not limited to) our parents granting us more socializing freedom than our sisters and expecting less household chores, using offensive, demeaning or sexist language, employing street harassment and sexualized body language that objectifies others, dominating a meeting, group or effort and cutting off, questioning, or undermining female or LGBTQ leadership, using body language, damaging property, and raising voice to intimidate and assert power and control, battering or sexually assaulting the feminine-identified body—these are all are symptoms of a masculine & heterosexual-based system based on domination and aggression that gives masculinity (in its social, political, and cultural forms) power and privilege over anything not perceived as masculine.

One of the most prevalent manifestations of a heteropatriarchal system is the perpetuity of sexual violence. Historically, European colonizers used sexual violence as a primary tool of genocide. As Andrea Smith documents in Conquest: Sexual Violence & American Indian Genocide, “Colonizers have long tried to crush the spirit of the peoples they colonize and blunt their will to resist colonization. One of the most devastating weapons of conquest has been sexual violence.” To successfully rob indigenous lands and maintain the institution of slavery, gender and sexual violence was a central strategy of the colonizers and slave masters. From this (specifically gendered) systematic violence, the United States nation was born, and its legacy still felt and manifested today in interpersonal and internalized ways among oppressed groups.

Today, when gender violence takes place within activist/organizing communities of color, silence, denial, and organizational and community self-protection are common responses. We may feel that it is a personal matter that isn’t any of our business, or feel pressured to not “harm” the movement by “making it bigger and more public than it needs to be”. However, as Meiver De la Cruz & Carol Gomez write, adopting these stances is “where our movement breaks down and community accountability fails. Our silence and inaction give permission for violence to continue. We must then turn the mirror on ourselves and take a hard look at our own internalized oppressions that act as barriers to responding to domestic and sexual violence, and ask ourselves the tough questions:

· What is our collective responsibility to tackle this private and public conundrum?

· How do we hold ourselves and offenders in our circle accountable for abusive behavior?

· How do we unravel the emotional entanglements and ties that can either cloud or enhance our judgment?

· How do we take a stand?

· [How do we support the growth and transformation of both the survivor and perpetrator of violence?]

· How can communities prioritize domestic and sexual violence as an integral part of the social justice struggle?

· How do we move intimate violence from the private sphere and into the public light without feeling as if we are ‘betraying the cause’ or exposing our communities of color to dangerous public scrutiny and further oppression?” (1)

The truth is that the personal is political and the political is personal. In other words, home and the movement are one and the same. The foundation of our movimiento is both our personal relationships and our lived experiences and traumas. “The trauma we experience in private (whether at home or work) spills over into our community work, and often it either drives us or paralyzes us. [Therefore], it is impossible to respond to sexual violence, domestic violence, sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, and classism as isolated entities.” (1)

It is critical that we connect gender violence to other forms of oppression. We speak out and rally to condemn the cultural and institutional violence of the white supremacy we face from the State of Arizona, but when it comes to addressing and holding ourselves accountable to instances of gender violence in our own families and community, we retreat to denial, avoidance, or explicit enabling. As long as our community is incapable or unwilling to address male privilege, gender violence, and heteropatriarchy, our movement will be one that lacks community accountability, is led by abusers and enablers, and has failed to respect, prioritize, or validate the experiences of women. We cannot fight for Ethnic Studies or Migrant Justice, and at the same time turn a blind eye to the struggle and experiences of our own mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters, comrades, and partners.

“This is not a depoliticized call to focus on personal self-development instead of building movements to dismantle white supremacy, capitalism, and imperialism… [for] our movements to be successful they must prefigure the societies we seek to build. Movements must dispense the idea that we can worry about gender violence ‘after the revolution’, because gender violence is a primary strategy for white supremacy, colonialism, and capitalism. Heteropatriarchy is the logic by which all other forms of social hierarchy become naturalized. The same logic underlying the belief that men should dominate women on the basis of biology (a logic that presupposes a gender binary system) underlies the belief that the elites of a society naturally dominate everyone else. Those who are having an interest in dismantling settler colonialism, white supremacy, and capitalism must by necessity have a stake in dismantling heteropatriarchy.” (2)

To conclude, I encourage our community to create a safe and open space to consider the following questions:

1. What would a movement against white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, colonialism, and imperialism look like, centered around a gender and LGBTQ consciousness?

2. How do we employ a community strategy to address violence abuse or harm that creates safety, justice, reparations and healing, without relying on police, prisons, criminal justice courts, childhood protective services, or any other state systems?

3. How do we put at the center the experiences of both the individuals and communities involved, and the larger social conditions at work? How do we support both the personal growth of the survivor and perpetrator and at the same time make strides towards community and political transformation?

This is a callout to respect and believe the voices and experiences of survivors of gender violence.

This is a callout to stand in solidarity with women, children, and LGBTQ people by challenging our own male privilege and the system of heteropatriarchy.

This is a callout to make it clear that we do not accept, perpetuate, or enable domestic or sexual violence.

This is a callout to find solutions and processes in community accountability and transformative justice models.

This is a callout to trusting that survivors of gender violence know best, and that others (especially men) not try to guide their process of healing and guide women’s process of liberation, and that men follow the guidance of women in this struggle.

This is a callout to build healthy communities and movements that are safe, empowering, and liberatory for women, children, and LGBTQ people, because if we struggle from below and center our movimiento on those most oppressed, only then do we fight for true liberation for all. Only then will a revolution be truly for everyone.

Just as the Ethnic Studies Movement of Tucson, Arizona demands an end to cultural genocide and violence, this too is a callout, essentially, to address and seek to end violence in all its forms and manifestations. There should be nothing revolutionary or mind-blowing about a revolution that includes and humanizes us all.

Sources:

(1) Meiver De la Cruz & Carol Gomez. “Ending Oppression. Building Solidarity. Creating Community Solutions.” The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities, pp. 27-28.

(2) Andrea Smith. “Introduction” The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities, pp. xv

 
 

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An Open Letter to the Men of the Left, Especially in the Chican@ Community, Especially in Tucson

We refuse to make a choice between our cultural identity and sexual identity, between our race and our femaleness. We are not turning our backs on our people nor on our selves.

— Cherríe Moraga, This Bridge Called My Back

There is one thing that the Left and the Right often agree on: women’s concerns (our rights, our safety, our health, our progress) are disposable, dispensable; they are a distraction from the truly “important” issues. We won’t address the issues of the Right here, but we say to our sisters and brothers on the Left: If you claim to be working for the liberation of your people, and for the liberation of other peoples of color, and you’re still beating or threatening or harassing or raping or assaulting or enslaving women, you are totally missing the point. And you will fail.

No one can be truly free, no one can be respected and have equality of opportunity — and certainly no man can have full personhood — until all women, especially women of color, are safe from the rages and oppressions and depredations/degradations of men, including men of color.

The racism of the world does not make it OK to take out your frustrations on those closest to you. It is not OK to terrorize someone you claim to love. It is not OK to (attempt to) silence women who are speaking our truth, and it is not OK to demonize those who challenge your petty authority (no matter how much you have struggled to wrest that status from the hands of the dominant culture).

You cramp my style, baby

when you roll on top of me

shouting “Viva La Raza”

at the top of your prick.

— Lorna Dee Cervantes, “Baby you cramp my style”

We are calling upon all men of the Left, and today, especially, we call upon the male leaders of the Mexican American Studies and Ethnic Studies struggles here in Tucson and beyond to repudiate the oppression of women in both institutional settings and in our homes and families and in the hard-working rooms of political organizing, la lucha.

We fully expect that those who have taught or claimed to believe in “In Lak Ech” will stand up and say: “Not in my name. No más.” Manifestations of widespread misogyny and sexism must be acknowledged before it can be eradicated — for the benefit of us all, women and men and children. We need healing, but not at the expense of silencing women.

If we are “your other me,” then you must look deeply at how you treat us and yourselves. You must open your eyes and look at the boys and young men who see you as role models and ask: “Am I teaching what I want them to learn?” Your actions must match your words. It is not women’s job to make this abuse stop. Men must stop these destructive behaviors in themselves and in other men. Men must call out other men to walk their talk. Be brave! Stand up for women! Clean up your own house, examine your own oppressor behaviors, demand change from your compadres. Until that happens, no true healing of our community, no true liberation, is possible.

We close this letter with the words of Norma Alarcón: “women are seen not just by one patriarchy but by all as rapeable and sexually exploitable,” and thus “to choose among extant patriarchies is not a choice at all” (“Chicana’s Feminist Literature: A Re-Vision Through Malintzin”).  Dismantling racism also demands a dismantling of sexism. We look forward to statements and actions from the men of MAS, from the leadership of the Chican@ communities, and from the larger Left/progressive communities.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Tucson movement

 

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