Culture of Silence

Acts of violence are committed against women in the Mexican-American Studies community consistently, yet it seems they are only discussed publicly when people outside the movement get involved. As a young woman in this community I should have been made aware of men in the movement who are known perpetrators of violence. I need to know which spaces are safe spaces and I need to be able to make informed decisions about the people I am involving myself with or organizing with. I believe that part of the reason I had no previous knowledge of any man’s history of gendered violence was because of a carefully constructed culture of silence. This culture of silence is also a culture of protection and of zero accountability. It was created to
pardon perpetrators of gendered violence and shield them from public scrutiny in order to maintain an image of social unity against injustice. The fact that information about people’s history with violence is kept from young women and other community members suggests that there is a system within the MAS community to keep that information private. It suggests that the people in power choose to glorify certain people and hide their history of violence.

Crafting a dialogue or narrative on blogs, newspapers, or during interviews also creates this culture of silence. Every time someone gives an interview or writes an article that intentionally covers up violence and injustice within the community – in order to fake a united, justice oriented front for the rest of the country – they are
contributing to the culture of silence. This is part of a larger issue, one that is centered around Three Sonorans controlling the national dialogue surrounding ethnic studies and vilifying the women or queer identified people who choose to counter this narrative, making the choice every time he writes a post and decides who is the glorified savior and who is the demonized. Bloggers and interviewees make the choice to glorify or vilify whomever they want every time they speak or write a post. They have the power to pick and choose which parts of the present to write about, therefore creating a history – again based on the observations and opinions of men and leaving out certain narratives they believe are unimportant. The assumption is that the narrative of men is all-encompassing and that somehow certain people have the authority to be ‘the voice’ of the movement.

When Three Sonorans writes a post he decides which narrative he wants to perpetuate, one that suits him the best and one that supports his homies, regardless of the truth. People perpetuating narratives for their own personal gain need to take responsibility for their role in establishing the current Tucson narrative as a largely male voice. They also need to take responsibility for their writings glorifying certain men in the community as pillars of social justice around the country, while they knew these men were perpetrators of violence inside their homes and inside the community.

In contrast to this male-centric national ethnic studies narrative, I want to have a collective narrative; filled with stories from women, LGBTQ, and disabled identified peoples. I want the national spotlight to not only focus on the men in this community but to embrace and acknowledge the leadership and contributions of women to this
movement.  In order to create this new narrative there needs to be an end to the public flaming and silencing of women and queer people in the community and there needs to be a system of accountability for our bloggers and those people who try to represent us nationally.

Hopefully this blog can be a tool to shift our national narrative to one that includes voices of people of all genders, sexualities, ages, class status and abilities. We cannot be a movement to fight injustice elsewhere if we are still perpetuating the same patriarchal, colonial oppression within our community.

I too

I too know this rage of which my sisters speak
I too feel it burning inside of me
I too feel an explosion imminent because I.am.so.tired.of.this.shit.
 
Hey man,
You think your oppression is bad?
Imagine millennia of suffocation by idiots who can’t possibly imagine
that their wives/daughters/friends/sisters might know better than them
Might lead better than them
 
Imagine being suffocated from nearly beyond your depth of memory
And knowing
Truly
Completely
That your suffocation is the reason for the state of things today
 
Imagine trying to say it out loud to men
Who laugh at you
Call you a whore looking to get with the next “big” man
Who try to bed you and pretend they care
Who pretend to listen and then next thing you hear they’re out oppressing some other woman
 
Imagine the rage choking when watching your sisters
Suffocating on their self-hatred
Their insecurity
Their desires
Their attempts
Their fear
Their traumas
The denials
Imagine watching this for centuries, these blessings being trampled
This life being crushed
By men who truly don’t.give.a.shit
Imagine the depth of that rage
 
Imagine watching the world in flames
The oppression so deep
And knowing that the men still won’t give women a chance.
They’d rather sink the ship
Than admit
Let us all die for their vain arrogance
Kill the Mother rather than stop: love and honor her
 
Imagine trauma compounded by a woman’s love and nurturing
watching the earth, the animals, the birds, the air, the water, the blessed gifts
undergoing profound suffering the likes of which can barely be fathomed
And knowing that women are shackled, 
unable yet to break free to protect their Mother again 
and show her the worship they are missing,
that she is missing,
to have again that depth of love, that spiraling cycle of love that just gets deeper,
not from a man,
but from the Mother who gives it always, anyway, despite.
Who grew us all.  Despite.  Who gives us every breath.  Despite.  Who heals us and comforts us.  Despite.
Imagine that rage.
At being held back from that.
And being stuck in this Hell
With blind idiots who don’t understand the meaning of depth
Who think to become a man – to age into it – is all the growth they need
Who can’t see us choking on the lives we are forced to live
And who still won’t.admit.shit.
 
I too feel that rage
I too feel it burning inside of me
I too can barely take it anymore
I too need some options.  I need to catch my breath.
I’m tired of the suffocation
And being surrounded by jerks

Think about the family

We keep talking about the pain it causes our families
I know that, I am them
 
I am the one that held on to stories of violence so hard I bled
Held on to secrets of feeling unsafe
Felt my insides explode, cancer in my belly, pain in my chest
 
I too felt it was no ones business
So I kept on holding on
Explosions continued in my body, on others faces, on my arms
 
Growing up I began to think these secrets were normal
This fear and uncertainty I kept inside
Comfortable
Was love, was safety
 
But I cannot hold and explode
No more
Hate me for being hateful
Raging is not peaceful
But exploding is not either
I know that now
 
Is this the pain you speak of?
The one you want us to keep quiet about
So that our families can be at peace?
But this peace you speak of are explosions that we hold
And they keep the bombs sacred
Ready to go off

Are you a boy or a girl?

“Are you a boy or a girl?”

I walk into a gas station convenience store, pick up my Snapple and head to the register to pay. “Good evening, Sir. How are you doing today?” I ask, with a smile on my face.  “Good, how are you?” the clerk responds.“I’m doing well” I say. He tells me my total and I hand him a $20 bill. While making my change, he keeps looking up at me. I know this look. He is trying to figure me out. My baggy clothes and fitted hat are making it hard for him to identify me.  He looks me in the eye and says “are you a boy or a girl?”. I hate this question. It makes everything awkward. “Does it matter?” I respond “I just need my change”. I can see my change in his hand. I can see the look on his face. It has quickly changed from a smile to a scary look of anger, confusion and frustration. “I need to know. Why won’t you tell me? Why are you doing this?” I shake my head, take my keys out of my pocket (just in case I have to run) and I say “What am I doing to you?” hoping he will see how ridiculous this line of questioning is. “You look like that and you won’t tell me if you’re a boy or a girl.” I look him in his eyes, snatch my change out of his hand and quickly walk to my car.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”

I am pacing in front of a public restroom again, my eyes darting back and forth between the two signs. Heart racing. Palms sweating.  Men. Women. Men. Women.  I don’t fit into either category.  A mother walks out of the side marked “Women” with her kid, so I figure this would be a good time to go in because it’s probably empty. I dart towards a stall and I see a woman standing at the sink washing her hands. I walk into the stall and latch the door. “Excuse me. Excuse me. EXCUSE ME! Are you a boy or a girl?” the woman at the sink yells. I don’t know what to say. My deep voice is only going to make the situation worse. She is now banging on the door, trying to push it open. The door is shaking in front of me. She isn’t letting up. I pull up my pants, close my belt and open the door. I rush past her and walk out of the restroom. I can hear her screaming after me. I just want to get away from the whole situation. But I still have to pee.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”

The workweek  is over. I am ready to enjoy my weekend.  I walk to the corner, raise my arm and try to hail a cab. A group of young men and women are standing on the sidewalk 10 feet away from me.  They are looking at me and laughing. I’m trying my hardest to ignore them. “Yo!” yells one of the men.” “Yo, I’m talking to you. What the fuck are you?!” I am starting to panic. I begin to walk away. “Don’t fucking walk away from me, I’m asking you something!”. I can hear his footsteps running up behind me.  He grabs my shoulder, steps in front of me. He’s pissed off. I look at his face and think “he looks like he could be my brother”.  Same skin color, same face shape, same lips and nose.  He grabs my collar with both hands and slowly says “are you a boy…or a girl?” I get myself out of his grasp and say “just leave me alone” and I turn around to walk away. I see stars when his fist knocks into the back of my head.  I turn around and begin to defend myself, but my brain and body aren’t responding the way they should. I can’t believe this is happening in broad daylight, with people all around us. As he is punching and kicking me, I can hear his friends laughing. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me but I always hope it will be the last. “Maricon!” he screams as he kicks me one last time. He picks up his backpack, joins his friends and walks off with a smile on his face. No one helped me. No one even noticed.

You don’t have the right to ask me that. It is none of your business!! Because you really don’t care about how I identify and respecting that identity. You want to know what is in between my legs and furthermore, why?? You don’t have a right to my body. You especially don’t have the right to get angry or violent because I don’t want to answer you. 

The man from the last story shattered my knee. It is a source of constant physical pain in my life and with every step I take It’s a reminder of what hate and ignorance can do. It is also a reminder that although we shared identity and community as people of color, he still hurt me. Where are we going wrong that we are making victims of the most vulnerable people in our own communities? Whether it’s sexism or transphobia/homophobia played out through hate-crimes or domestic violence, there is a problem. How are we to move forward, if we are causing pain in our own families? We are supposed to heal each other, lift each other up. And as of now, we are failing at that. 

“Although only an estimated 2 to 5% of the population is transgender, 1 in 12 Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming people will be murdered. The average life expectancy for a transgender person is 37 years old. 49% of transgender people attempt suicide. A nationwide survey of bias-motivated violence against LGBT people from 1985 to 1998 found that incidents targeting transgender people accounted for 20% of all murders and about 40% of all police-initiated violence.”- transgenderlaw.org

I am the Malinche

I am the malinche
 
Bitch who took the ‘good fork’ with flowers etched on the ends
This selfish act justification for sharp points (plain… no flowers) thrown at my skull [bitch]
‘Mijita, give him the nice one’
Your fault
[bitch]
 
I am the malinche
 
Bitch hiding in my room because our hallway is too small for us both and he is above me
I need to move. Make room.
[bitch]
Plus I got shit to take care of in here
Skin red, slits of color, marks from rusted razors—get it out before you go out.
Make no noise
[bitch]
 
I am the malinche
 
Bitch behind closed doors
Give it up and don’t talk shit.
Pain will be mirrored and our scars match. You will hurt yourself and I will hurt myself.
[bitch]
‘You are to blame— crazy’
Raise your voice and there will be holes in walls—doors with splinters.
Because ‘I love you so much’
[bitch]
 
I am the malinche
 
Bitch, I will tower and look over your shoulder because you cannot be trusted.
[bitch]
‘I am oppressed so I cannot oppress you’
‘We are brown familia and I know you’—‘Know this is important work’
Keep quiet, small, stupid, passive…
[bitch]
That’s easy…
 
I am the malinche
 
We shout and are in ‘the lucha’. Together. Solid. United.—
But ‘don’t fucking wear that. You will fall’
[bitch]
‘Don’t be cute. Watch for men, They are dogs…’
‘You don’t know truth till we hear the mujer’
But mujer ‘shut the fuck up if the truth involves men [me]’
 
I am the malinche
 
    FUCK your kitchen table war zone
          FUCK your lines in my flesh
                FUCK your destruction of caress
                      FUCK your take down
                            FUCK your revolution built on bullshit
 
I AM THE MALINCHE
 
I
 
WE
 
Will continue moving out of your hills of ego and fucked up, silenced, picked at stories.
Tailored and poured atop our beautiful semillas.
Drowning, pushing, muscles sore… We continue…
Until we reach some sun
And that sun will be HOT
Can’t deny
 
ME
 
WE
 
MALINCHES [fuck you]