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Girl Code, Responsibility, Accountability and In Lak Ech

I didn’t believe my friend when she was raped.

……

The last few years in Tucson have been a struggle to survive. With the battles in our communities and legislation targeting brown people of color on indigenous land – we have nearly killed each other and the work and the fight and the fighting has made us all sick – susto. It deserves writing that will never end now that it has started. Through it all, I now reflect on two moments when I know I fucked up. I monumentally fucked up and hurt other women. When it first happened, she was and we all were sorting through statements and over ‘what does this mean to this movement’ shit. She may have at first said something(s) and later they changed which isn’t uncommon with sexual violence and doesn’t delegitimize what happened to her or her voice at any given moment. Sexual violence is haunting and what happened to me with a family member fifteen years ago took me almost a year to tell anyone about. My mom. She knew and never questioned me aloud, but my family raged in confusion. My grandparents led my smear campaign.

‘The divorce and custody battles were just really hard on her she has got to be making this up for attention. Her father, our son would never do this.’

But he did and I still can’t name it. I never filed a report, never told a counselor, I didn’t bring it up in custody hearings, and haven’t explained to my friends who insist that I masturbate but I DON’T FUCKING WANT TO because touching my naked body disgusts me (for a number of reasons) and I haven’t talked about it with anyone the way I go over it with myself. I’m sure it accounts for my inability to have physical intimacy, even hugs are uncomfortable when they’re unwanted and they’re usually unwanted.

After this past summer I even wondered if it’s why V couldn’t force a sexual connection or some shit with me. I questioned myself over and over.

The loneliness of something I can’t even verbalize that was happening in my subconscious made me suicidal about things I could verbalize and understand like break ups. So my moment of attempted overdose or short episode with antidepressants seem unusually common and associated with the moments they took place in but I’ve come to understand that I carry my trauma everyday regardless if I acknowledge it and it shapes my behavior and response.

……

When she said she was raped, she didn’t use that language, in those first days she didn’t say to me, “I was raped”. She told me and one of my best friends at the same time.  I refuse to go over details of what was said and will limit my details because the space to go over this with all of us – belongs to her. Arguably some friends (a word that has become interchangeable to also include: community member, co-worker, social justice acquaintance) thought they probably just had sex, that some of what happened was consensual and she didn’t want to follow through with it and so it was date rape, which apparently isn’t rape-rape in our disgusting shaming language for those who drink alcohol or like to fuck. There is nothing wrong with liking to have sex. We were all friends, all us comadres, going through a lot of shit in Arizona – we deserved to get dressed super cute and go out for drinks. There were nights we drank A LOT. I was going through a break up and thought I was going to die, as usual. Reflecting on the time we had as comadres, a tight inseparable group, it forever transformed me. My home girls, mujeres, had my back and I mostly healed that break up and got through it because of them and jäger bombs. We always took care of each other, took cabs, three or more of us, had our usual spots, and didn’t fuck around with guys. We went together and left together and slept over at each other’s places.  On “Chican@ prom night”, a huge night for our community, it was different. We didn’t carefully plan our night besides our outfits; we’d be with hundreds of our friends and community members.  I suppose we assumed we’d be safe. That there was no way something could happen to any of us around movement men we worked with. We didn’t plan designated drivers or anything like that, the night was predictable except for the predatory behavior of one, who now, obviously had a plan for his night.

We all went to a film premiere and then to a local bar for drinks and dancing.  He was a creep. He was drunk and sloppy and grabbing on women half his age, he wanted to dance; he wanted to celebrate and be the center of attention. Women’s attention. I left before they did. We asked around about rides and getting people home and left.

In the next two days I found out something went intolerably wrong, and I didn’t know what to think of it all. There were talking circles and whispers and meetings and time moved slowly but it  also went quickly. Inescapably slow and quick, so I have a hard time remembering each day. I think for the most part there were young women who never believed her (and still don’t), young women who always have, and those of us who thought nothing at all — who wanted to be neutral.

Neutral on rape.

The privilege of not knowing what to do and checking out. Checking out was easy. There was so much work to do as usual. Subtlety, my best friend and I combined the work we had been doing with work that needed to be done along lines of gender and sexual violence. She was more on point than I was (usually) and I basked in her energy and kind of said “fuck off” to everything else.

……

A month later after some unnecessary drama, I chose to think what everyone else in Tucson seemingly thought and I pulled the same shit my grandparents had done to me and like my former male teachers and people I looked up to,  my only concern was Ethnic Studies. What does this mean for our comunidad, our fight? In my eyes, she did something that allowed for me to minimize her almost instantly and we fought over email exchanges that were cc’d to other young folks and that was that. I was Team Ethnic Studies (how the fuck did that happen and why wasn’t  I just team myself?).

Folks around the country would call me as a respectable mujer and ask if they could show the film to raise money, they heard there was controversy and wanted to hear it from me. I would call one of my teacher/mentor from the movement and let them know and usually my answer was “yes– Yes, if I were you I’d show the movie.” I’m really struggling now with how sick it all sounds because it was all sick. But I was willing to do anything for Ethnic Studies, ANYTHING. I would’ve then and I will do as much now as long as I’m not negotiating anyone’s dignity in the process.

I remember when he called me, from Save Ethnic Studies, in a panic. He knew then the power I held so he manipulated me and convinced me she was enemy #1.

I’m just a man and I have no say in this, but you’re trucha and if she gets this around, she has eighty some page report on our community. This will destroy us.

Of course he needed me to engineer a solution, a way to exploit young people in the name of social justice education. And I was a pawn in this modern nationalist epic novel. I could be the down ass trucha home girl who was loyal to her Raza, gets arrested, cooks comida, works with the young students and is never mentioned in a history book twenty years from now. This is all so romantic to a young organizer. And I loved everyone involved in this fucked up mess. I even sat down with two women I thought would jump me with words, one being the perpetrator’s partner (I realize I haven’t mentioned that yet, yes he had/s a partner which complicated the situation even further) and tried being – neutral. When we met, she gave me a gift, a fox and chocolates. My friends told me not to do it; she wanted me to be a bridge. I am a bridge in so many ways, I understand that. If I could make peace I would but only recently have I realized that I can’t now and I couldn’t then. Even if my education taught me that I could change the world, I can’t take on every task or every hit that comes my way.

But I still did. I tried to organize a meeting with everyone at the table – all the comadres at least. Like, ‘let’s sorts this out as women.’ I was still in this mentality like it was a women’s job, my job,  to sort through shit, find what was good and exemplify behavior for our community. I do this now, but I also do shit that exemplifies anger and lust and human shit. And CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW it’s not just my job to give a shit because I’m identified as a woman? So in the end, this was all silenced. She went away, literally – she moved out-of-state and out of the country and slowly the whispers became softer and softer. Our community dragged itself forward but this became the norm for all of us. Everything that happened then and since deserves endless words and stories or lessons for future generations and this generation right now.

……

During Freedom Summer, organizing became mundane and everyday. There were moments of hope and of accomplishing what we once had but what happened and was silenced will also be told.

I had a long emotional affair that was overdue to become physical and at summer time it did. When I kissed V I thought of my friend. In feeling like a slut – it was the same friend who named us both sluts after all, I would think of her. I would also think of his girlfriend. My political analysis of what we owe one another shifted in moment’s time. When he tried to fuck me when we were drunk it was because over all of this that I was able to know anything at all about consent and that I can change my mind. I CAN CHANGE MY MIND. When I’m drunk or he’s drunk or I can change my mind whenever the fuck I want. Or I can say no or I can say yes to this and no to that and seriously HE JUST SHOULDN’T HAVE TRIED WHEN I WAS DRUNK to begin with.

……

L and C are now my friends. I think.

L and I had lunch, she poured over journals and emails and texts. We spent a day together too, she’s been around now. It makes me feel alive. It is because of her resilience and resistance that I gather the will to act. When I hug her I don’t understand how she even lets me touch her. Hug her, to be around her glowing smile or share words with me… words to share with any of us.

C, she came to an event recently, she donated ten dollars to malintZINE. She hugged me. I thought her text messages were strategy, to get me to have lunch with her, so she can rip me apart, deservingly, although that’s never been her style. If she wanted to give me a regañada, I would sit and answer whatever she needed me to for her healing. She said she respects me still. I don’t understand. I lent her a book. My copy of Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her.

“The half life of love is forever”

Maybe these things mean not much to anyone other than myself; possibly them. I have and will continue to reflect on these past few years and my own behavior. It is through my reflection that I need to account for what has happened and document. Accountability to me is speaking my truth. Acknowledging the ways in which I can and need to grow. Responsibility is challenging myself to behave in ways that will cause growth to happen. I have a responsibility to L and C to do work from here on that moves towards – NEVER AGAIN. It wasn’t through ethnic studies that I learned in lak ech, tu eres mi otro yo. But through two ethnic studies alumni, both younger than me, who offered me forgiveness and room to grow. Creating some Chicana girl code of accountability and responsibility. To taking care of each other and never assuming anyone else will.  To loving other women and loving yourself.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 22, 2013 in Chicano Movement, Tucson movement

 

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David Abie Morales:

Your announcement that your last post for Three Sonorans was in the works arrived in only the grand fashion that you are known for – that overly dramatized self-important manner usually followed by chisme and posts that polarize rather than bring us together. You know, some of us actually don’t believe this is going to be your last post. We’re taking bets on your return. Let us know if you want to get in on it. You can’t stay away from the attention and the glory, real or imagined. No, David, MAS isn’t dead, and we suspect, unfortunately, neither is Three Sonorans.

It’s interesting what you chose to deliver as your last post. For days, many waited for you to write about Sean’s arrest. SILENCE. Instead, you spent your time having side conversations trying to understand why so many women feel that you don’t have to get beat up black and blue to experience domestic violence. Looking back, there are so many ways you could have figured out how to break the silence rather then run around in panic. How sad for us that we expected more from you. Even more pathetic is how you and other writers only prospered from propping you up as some type of organizing messiah and Sean, as the man meant to bring MAS back. Right now, some articles on your blog, Huffington Post and Salon are starting to look like some sick joke. Oh, wait, maybe this is why MAS is dead – because you realized we all finally got a good look behind your green curtain? If only Yoda could sit down and talk with you. “The narcissism is strong with this one.”

How interesting that in your last post, not only did you decide to continue to debate what is and what isn’t domestic violence, but you also chose to attempt to take down the only other person in Tucson who has steadfastly stood up for MAS in the local media. You say you dearly love her, but how much were you drinking when you wrote this post? Seriously, how much whiskey does it take to try to beat down another Chicana in another post? Someone who once championed your work and stood up for you when you were fired by the Tucson Citizen? But I know women are such a pain. Boy, what are we going to do with all those troublesome vaginas?

Well, maybe if we bully them enough like you’ve done with other people through your blog, we could scare them into silence and remind them they are all malinches to begin with. It’s sad really the legacy you leave us – you could have helped a movement form relationships to create allies in this struggle – but no. It took some time for observers to realize you were a mouthpiece for those who’ve pretended to be the leaders of this “movement,” but have only worked behind the scenes to destroy it. If MAS is dead, as you say… then look at the two men you protect and blame them (and yourself).

There were times when we were proud of you. When you called out the racism we all recognized that propelled the fight against our classes from the right, as well as the racism and its denial from those on the left. There are wonderful moments. Your video magic. Perhaps, if there’s any benefit to your last post, is that we are at a point now that, not only have we seen what’s really behind your green curtain, your credibility, which was always questioned, may now be gone.

It’s gone because we realized you were just a mouthpiece. It’s gone because we realized you’ll never get it and as women, it get’s tiring. It’s gone because you don’t seem to understand what real friendships are about. It’s gone because we are tired of you representing us nationally and locally for some time now – but we were too scared to come forward – too scared you’d bully us down as you had anyone else who dared question you or correct you.

Want one more example? You dared to call out those who wrote about Sean’s arrest or broke the “silence,” on your Facebook post, reminding us of Sean’s children. You wrote that as you status update and you tagged Sean’s daughter. Not only did you allow your followers who come from many many political spectrum’s to see her on Facebook, but she got to read your post and realize that hundreds of others may have seen it too. How dare you? It was disgusting and our stomachs still wretch thinking about it.

How sad that at one time you attempted to call yourself a journalist, and others called you the same. You tried to call yourself an organizer, or someone wrote you were – but you showed you don’t really have the stomach for that. Maybe, rather than call yourself any of these things, you could just call yourself retired. We need new voices to come forward. We need new voices to bring us together. We need new voices that remember what this was all about to begin with – Mexican American studies. You and those who’ve taken the lead have made a mess of things. It’s sad. It’s heartbreaking what you’ve done and how you’ve lowered yourself – especially in your last post.

It just begs the question? Can’t you just really, for once, think about MAS. Can’t you just really mean it when you say, this is your last post?

 
8 Comments

Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Tucson movement

 

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Response to Sean’s Letter: we call bullshit

This letter is merely an empty letter, a clear public relations statement so that, god forbid, you don’t actually look guilty of doing something wrong.  If you really believe in what you said and that this is sufficient, you clearly still do not get it. Your words are that of an entitled man that minimizes your actions. This is a clear statement of denial.

“no one has the right to engage in any conduct that is or has the appearance of domestic violence.”

This is absolutely disrespectful and is in fact domestic violence.

Oh and by the way…….
We will be critical of your work as an educator, “leader” or  ”mentor”. As you might recall a book called “Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire speaks of praxis and defines it as “reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it.” Through praxis, oppressed people can acquire a critical awareness of their own condition, and, with their allies, struggle for liberation.

In your role you have young men looking to you to teach them how to not only be powerful students in their schools and in their community but they also look to you to show them how to love, respect and support their mothers, sisters, daughters, partners and friends. They were looking to you to model for them how to be healthy men of color. They are still looking to you. What will you do? Praxis.

This is not personal, you just happened to make yourself an example. We actually write this for the 2 womyn who were killed at the hands of their ex husbands  in Tucson in the last 2 weeks and for the womyn in Delhi who was gang raped and beaten to death and although you may not see any kind of connection between yourself and these womyn, you need to. You need to see your behavior as a contribution to the maltreatment of womyn.

The letter you wrote is not good enough. If you care to truly engage in your personal struggle and evolution, you will not refer to your actions as merely “charges” but in fact state what you did and how you think it has impacted your family, friends and community.

You will include conversations of race, class and gender in your work.

You will begin to examine where you fall on the continuum of abuse.

You will begin to be aware of how you show up to your sisters in the struggle and give a shit about it.

Acknowledging yourself as macho will no longer cut it. You have a choice, now how you are going to put your reflection into action? People are watching you; many are hoping that you come through.

Accountability is hard and not for everyone.  So what will it be?

 
3 Comments

Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Tucson movement

 

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malintZINE would like to make some clarifications regarding our inaugural blog on 12/21/2012:

There is a severe need for accountability within the Chicano Movement in Tucson especially surrounding the preservation of Ethnic Studies. Our bodies and children are sacred and need to be protected from domestic violence and all other forms of gendered violence. We as an online community will not allow anyone to be further used as a scapegoat for voicing their opinions on this zine regarding the bullshit women go through in this community. If you do not like what you read on this site, do not read it and simply face this dialogue when you are ready – TEZCATLIPOCA! malintZINE will continue and does not need anyone’s approval. On this site ethnic studies is centered around women’s voices and dignity!

We will not be burdened with the “secrets” of the Movimiento.

We do not owe this to a movement that protects patriarchy.

This blog is about self-preservation, dignity, and truth.

Our voice is loud but not with the intent to silence. We speak and write as [undocumented] daughters, sisters, mothers, lovers, and queer people of color C/S

 
3 Comments

Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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