Welcome to Xicanisma

Bloggers at the Three Sonorans have, again, pointed fingers of accusation at Chicanas of Tucson. It seems that we (and a few men) are responsible for divisiveness within the community, for accusing rapists and misogynists of their crimes, for calling out the men and women of the Chican@ community for their hypocrisy and machismo and for demanding that Precious Knowledge be abandoned as a source of financial support by Save Ethnic Studies because a victim of crime directly involved with the film asked that it be so. And this is a bad thing?

Underlying the blogger’s concerns over a current issue involving copyrights, profiting and local artists is a broiling anger towards Chicanas who insist upon speaking about the inequities and injustices that they have experienced from within the community movement. And again, the blogger persists in attacking the accusers rather than naming the crimes and acknowledging that these problems exist. We do not pretend to know his motivations, and they don’t really matter. What is relevant is that he continues to imply that a woman’s concerns are not valid unless they have been legitimated by the community and, in this case, the men of the community.  The blogger points his angry finger at Chicana feminists as the problem, though he willingly admitted in a recent post that he knows little about feminism.

Contrary to what Three Sonorans suggests, leaving the Chicano movement behind is not a tenant of Chicana feminism (aka Xicanisma). Xicanisma, as both an academic discipline and way of life, did not originate because Chicanas were so enamored with “White” feminism that we decided to create the “Brown” version. Nor are we so feeble-minded that we cannot think for ourselves and our communities. Our studies are grounded in the commitment to our communities, our ancestors, and our children. Our actions are rooted in the knowledge that real progress does not occur unless and until the needs and concerns of all members of a community are addressed.

Believe it or not, Xicanisma developed as a response to the persisting efforts of academics and activists of all colors–including White feminists– to keep us silent.  Chicanas—and all women of “Latina” heritage– continue to encounter these efforts to silence. It is nothing new to us, our mothers and grandmothers often prepare us for it, so we know from the time we are small this is something we have to face. We also know that if we are going to ever change anything, we have to continue to fight those efforts, even when they are coming from within our own communities.

The bloggers at Three Sonorans would do well to brush up on Xicanisma before further attacking it and the men and women who support it. They may be surprised to learn that it too draws upon Indigenous knowledge to promote equity and justice for men and women. We know that our Nahua traditions do not just speak of Quetzalcoatl but of our female energies too, such as Xochitl, Coatlicue, and Tonantzin. We know that our ancestors sought the counsel of the women before war. We know that women were speakers, leaders, healers, and artists. We know that there was a time when men and women honored one another and stood up for that. We work to live those traditions and teach them to our children. And try as they might, no one will silence us in those efforts.

A suggested reading list for Three Sonorans for an introduction to Xicanisma—we’ve thrown in some Indigenous knowledge too for good measure. (Note that writings by these authors too contain precious knowledge): Gloria Anzaldua, Ana Castillo, Cherrie Moraga, Emma Perez, Antonia Castañeda, Chela Sandoval, Alma Garcia, Sandra Cisneros, Michelle Seros, Aida Hurtado, Gabriela Arrendondo, Sonia Saldivar-Hull, Alicia Garcia del Gaspar, Norma Alarcon, Tey Diana Rebolledo, Vicki Ruiz, Carla Trujillo, Andrea Smith, Paula Gunn Allen, Leslie Marmon Silko, Wilma Mankiller.

Borderlands

Though we “understand” the root causes of male hatred and fear, and the
subsequent wounding of women, we do not excuse, we do not condone, and we
will no longer put up with it. From the men of our race, we demand the admission/
acknowledgement/disclosure/testimony that they wound us, violate us, are afraid
of us and of our power. We need them to say they will begin to eliminate their
hurtful put-down ways. But more than the words, we demand acts. We say to them:
we will develop equal power with you and those who have shamed us.
It is imperative that mestizas support each other in changing the sexist
elements in the Mexican-Indian culture. As long as woman is put down, the Indian
and the Black in all of us is put down. The struggle of the mestiza is above all a
feminist one. As long as los hombres think they have to chingar mujeres and each
other to be men, as long as men are taught that they are superior and therefore
culturally favored over la mujer, as long as to be a vieja is a thing of derision, there
can be no real healing of our psyches. We’re halfway there—we have such love of
the Mother, the good mother. The first step is to unlearn the puta/virgen dichotomy
and to see Coatlalopeuh-Coatlicue in the Mother, Guadalupe.
Tenderness, a sign of vulnerability, is so feared that it is showered on women
with verbal abuse and blows. Men, even more than women, are fettered to gender
roles. Women at least have had the guts to break out of bondage. Only gay men have
had the courage to expose themselves to the woman inside them and to challenge
the current masculinity. I’ve encountered a few scattered and isolated gentle
straight men, the beginnings of a new breed, but they are confused, and entangled
with sexist behaviors that they have not been able to eradicate. We need a new
masculinity and the new man needs a movement.

Lumping the males who deviate from the general norm with man, the
oppressor, is a gross injustice. Asombra pensar que nos hemos quedado en ese pozo
oscuro donde el mundo encierra a las lesbianas. Asombra pensar que hemos, como
femenístas y lesbianas, cerrado nuestros corazónes a los hombres, a nuestros
hermanos los jotos, desheredados y marginales como nosotros. Being the supreme
crossers of cultures, homosexuals have strong bonds with the queer white, Black,
Asian, Native American, Latino, and with the queer in Italy, Australia and the rest of
the planet. We come from all colors, all classes, all races, all time periods. Our role is
to link people with each other—the Blacks with Jews with Indians with Asians with
whites with extraterrestrials. It is to transfer ideas and information from one
culture to another. Colored homosexuals have more knowledge of other cultures;
have always been at the forefront (although sometimes in the closet) of all
liberation struggles in this country; have suffered more injustices and have survived
them despite all odds. Chicanos need to acknowledge the political and artistic
contributions of their queer. People, listen to what your joteria is saying.
The mestizo and the queer exist at this time and point on the evolutionary
continuum for a purpose. We are a blending that proves that all blood is intricately
woven together, and that we are spawned out of similar souls.

Gloria Anzaldúa

Artist: Beatriz Guzman Velasquez
Artist: Beatriz Guzman Velasquez