Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The videos from the Revolutionary Filmmaking Project, Guatemala

The Revolutionary Filmmaking Project, Guatemala was an intense 5 week/6 day project I created in order to teach youth about revolutionary cinema, feminism, and violence prevention with the end goal that they create their own videos based on the ideas they learned.  In addition to creating this project I created a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter in order to purchase 10 Flip video cameras which the students would keep at the end of the project in order to motivate them to keep learning, creating, and provoking.

I blogged about each day of the project in Spanish on a separate blog with photos and videos on this account if you are interested in checking it out.  That blog was more for students in the project and those interested to see what we were learning, discussing and creating on a weekly basis.

Here is what we did in brief:

Day 1: Introduction to Gender, Film Theory, Violence and each other
Day 2: Feminism, Sex, the Body, Body Image, Sexuality, Sexual Health, Sexual Pleasure, Sex, Gender Identity and LGBTQ Ally Training
Day 3: Revolutionary Film Theory, Brainstorming, Group Formation, Introduction to the Cameras,  Storyboarding.
Day 4: Domestic Violence, Filming, Editing
Day 5: Oppressions, Event Planning, Filming, Photos
Day 6:  Filming, Editing and Interviews

In order to get a better idea of what the project was all about check out the following videos:

I made this video for the Kickstarter website in order to fundraise for the cameras.

This video is comprised of footage taken on Day 3 by a student named Michelle.

This video is a glimpse of what we did on Day 4.

This video is a glimpse of what we did on Day 5.

I made this video to show at the Premiere so the students could explain the Project in their own words and discuss how they were affected by it.  An extended version in Spanish can be found here.

The following video, ¿Cómo eliges vivir? (How do you Choose to Live?) was made by students from the University of San Carlos (USAC) and the Normal Central American Institute (INCA), a high school in Guatemala City.  The filmmakers names are Flaviana Morales (USAC), Maria Esther Mendoza (INCA), Nereida Vanegas Reyes (INCA), Mauro Montejo (USAC), Karla Vanessa Coronado (USAC), and Vilma Chiroy Cua (USAC) with the mentorship of Olga Lorenzana and Emmi Samayoa of USAC.  The unsubtitled version can be found here.

The students that created this video had a variety of ideas.  Mauro wanted to discuss domestic violence, Flaviana wanted to talk about child abuse, and Karla wanted to talk about homophobia.  After the students storyboarded on Day 3, they were very excited to film on Day 4 so even though it wasn't in the schedule I wanted to let them film a scene just to get an idea of what goes into making an entire short video.  After much deliberation among the group they had decided to make a video about a family which would address all the themes they wanted to address.  The problem was that they would be filming at the University and their video took place in a living room and a bedroom.  The other problem was that Mauro, the only man in the group, originally refused to be in the video so Karla dressed up as a man.  The students ended up filming their two scenes on Day 4 and scrapping them.  Then on Day 5 they changed their approach in order to account for the University setting and Mauro decided to be in the video.  After Mauro, the director, and I went over the footage that weekend we decided that the last part with the vignettes of PSA-type calls to end the violence  was great but that since the entire group was in the last part and only Mauro and Vilma were in the beginning part, that they would need to film all over again.  Additionally the footage was a little shaky.  Thus, Mauro and I found a way to keep the last part by incorporating all the characters in the end in a small scene in the beginning and connecting everyone.  In this way everyone's ideas were still represented.  Mauro also added the beginning and ending words which provided a frame for the video of provoking action, something encouraged by Revolutionary Film Theory.  

The students chose to show how one can be oppressed meanwhile oppressing or dicriminating someone else in order to hold ourselves accountable.  As Mafer said in the interview video, we are not only trying to stop society from being oppressive and violent - we are also part of society and need to change ourselves as well.

The following video, Mi Mejor Amiga es Una Mujer y Mi Enemiga También (My Best Friend is a Woman and My Enemy) is the second video made by students of the project.  It has yet to be translated into English.  This video was made by Michelle Rojas (USAC), María Fernanda Bracamonte (USAC), Carolina Chacón (INCA), and Guiby Sical (INCA).  

The four young women involved in this video also had varying ideas.  Guiby wanted to talk about gender roles, Mafer wanted to talk about sisterhood, and Michelle wanted to talk about gender role reversal in order to expose gendering.  The ideas were all fantastic and the young women said that they were incorporating everything, but when I got to take a look at the video (which was admittedly difficult as they were not as open to meeting and discussing their progress) the video was all over the place and longer than 15 minutes.  The theme of sisterhood was the only story that was complete so I cut out the other pieces that did not fit and was able to trim it down to under 9 minutes, still 4 minutes longer than the preferred time frame.  However, the video is a great way to show a problem that is rampant in Guatemala and that many men don't realize is happening.  The women said that the idea behind this video was to expose the lack of sisterhood and solidarity among women in Guatemala and that the goal was to provoke introspection and change in women to make us realize that we should see eachother as allies instead of enemies.

So there you have it.  All the videos from this project that I created based on years of experience, work, classes, and research.  I am happy with the results since for me the real results are the videos, the continued communication from the participants as they go forward in their work in feminism, video, and violence prevention, and the knowledge that they have the wisdom and resources to keep going. 

I know that if I had tried this project in my neighborhood it would have been ten times easier since I would have had a car, people would have working cell phones, internet, no fear of being outside at night and all the other conveniences that make communication and travel easier in the United States.  But I chose to do this in Guatemala and considering all the obstacles (especially the flake-out of a bilingual mentor) I am filled with pride in the students and in myself.  As I told the students the entire time, this project is only the beginning and during the project and afterward they should rely on eachother and keep up the community they built.  From what I can tell so far, its working!  For me, for them to have inconspicuous cameras that wont put them in danger was important, but not as important as leaving them with a feminist community.  That is priceless.

Interview with Sandinista Youth

Fu, a member of the Sandinista Youth in Esteli, Nicaragua answers questions about Sandinismo.  

The Sandinista Youth (we worked with at least thirty) were full of life, energy, ideas, passion, activism, and just bursting with excitement to hang out with my brother and I when we were translating at a hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua for a "medical mission" with the organization IMAHelps.  I was also bursting with questions and when I finally began asking them, Fu was overjoyed that I asked about women and the LGBTQ community in Sandinismo.  Here he answers the questions: What is Sandinismo for you? What is woman's role in Sandinismo? What is the role of the LGBTQ community within Sandinismo?

His answers in brief since I still need to translate this video are:

1. Sandinismo for me is whatever Sandinismo is for our grandparents
2. Women are key to Sandinismo or we never would have won the revolution.  However, they do not get their due credit and we still need more woman leaders.
3. LGBTQ people deserve human rights but there is still a lack of social consciousness of this.  

War and Sandinismo: Voices from Estelí, Nicaragua

This August 2011 I went to Esteli, Nicaragua for two weeks as a medical translator for an organization called IMAHelps that my Granny has been volunteering with for over ten years.  This was my second time translating with this particular group in Nicaragua.  Last year when we went to Somoto I was the only gynecological translator at the hospital and we were pretty isolated in our hotel in the evenings so I was unable to connect with locals about history and politics of the Nicaraguan revolution.  However, this year the organization had the great pleasure of working with local volunteers from the Sandinista Youth and the Lions Club of Esteli.  We even had a few gynecological translators from the Peace Corps who were able to give me a few breaks halfway through the “medical mission” so I could conduct my interviews.  I suppose this is just a long way of explaining why I was in Nicaragua to begin with and how I managed to connect with some cool people that were willing to be interviewed about their views and experiences of the Nicaraguan revolution/Sandinista Revolution/Contra War.  
One of the first things I did to prepare to interview people was to do a little research about the Revolution and Contra War.

What follows is a historical cheat-sheet I made myself:
Like a lot of Latin America, the Cuban Revolution which took power in 1959 inspired hope in Nicaragua that a revolution could overthrow the Somoza dynasty.  (The first Somoza ruled Nicaragua starting in 1937 and the dynasty ruled for over 40 years.)  The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) was formed in 1961 by Marxist college students and after years of training and organizing the FSLN, more commonly known as the Sandinistas, finally overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in 1979.  The FSLN was named in homage of the Nicaraguan radical and guerrilla leader Augusto César Sandino who fought U.S. occupation in Nicaragua in the 1920s and 30s.  The FSLN, originally the organization which led the revolution, later evolved into a political party which led the country from 1979 until 1990.  The FSLN was led by President Daniel Ortega from 1985-1990 and both Ortega and the party have been back in power since 2007.  The Contra War was the anti-Sandinista counter-insurgency of militias funded by the US CIA  which fought from 1981 until 1988.  
I also decided to do a little research to check out what Nicaraguan Revolutionary Cinema was all about, especially since I had never heard of it.  What I found was that, as Jonathan Buchsbaum points out in his book Cinema and the Sandinistas: Filmmaking in Revolutionary Nicaragua, while film was the largest source of mass culture during the Cuban revolution, by the time that the Sandinista’s came to power it had become television.  Regardless, Cuban revolutionary advisors in Nicaragua began INCINE, the Nicaraguan Institute of Cinema, which began by making newsreels under the advice of the Cubans.  However, though the Sandinistas looked to Cuba for inspiration, support and comradship, when it came to revolutionary cinema they tried to break with the models created by Cuba et al. They neglected the newsreel model and aimed to be less propagandistic and dogmatic as they began making short documentaries which portrayed real people, did not fear being critical of the revolution, and finally made their last films (before folding due to lack of funds) fictional stories of devastation caused by the Contra war. 

I decided to make a short video of interviews about Sandinismo and the war with real people to get a glimpse of the complex affects of war, even if it is for a socialist state.  In fact, my first mistake was to ask about “the war,” believing I would hear about the Contra war of the 80s but really people identified the term with the revolution in the 70s as well as the war.  However, the variety of responses reflects the later INCINE documentary model which does not simply portray the revolutionary process as positive but allows for critiques.  I was happy to speak to both supporters and one strong critic, though she chose to be anonymous, something that begs the question of how tolerant current Sandinismo is to criticism. She mentions in the video that she was pregnant during wartime and has nothing but bad memories.  This particular experience is something that the man who speaks about the love and brother/sisterhood* he found in the ranks couldn’t have experienced.  Celvin Quintero comes from a family of Sandinistas and speaks about the war proudly, yet only learned of the war from history books.  His mother was also pregnant during the war but because she doesn’t talk about it he grew up without the personal experience that the woman interviewee had to inform her dislike.  While the stories vary, I was surprised to find that though each person I spoke to did mention that there was a lot of death, the things they seemed to remember most was the economical effects.  Lack of food, milk, and work were factors that forced adults and children, guerrillas and civilians to make great sacrifices such as leaving their homes and entering war zones. 
The reason I spoke to the people I spoke to, that is people over the age of thirty, was because when I spoke to the Sandinista Youth they had incredibly different experiences of Sandinismo than did their parents and grandparents.  I chose to speak to one of the Youth in a separate interview (which I will be posting) about Sandinismo rather than the revolution.
I hope this video gives a small glimpse of the very recent Revolution and War in Nicaragua and, in classic Revolutionary Cinema style, provokes the viewer to learn more in the hopes they will be inspired to take action.

*The reason I am not translating hermanidad to brotherhood is because the Sandinistas encouraged women to fight as well and there was a large portion of women who did so.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"A Checkpoint in Claremont:" a Collaborative Video


      I decided to work with the Day Laborers again, or as I call them, "the guys," to keep up the exploratory concept (for me) of collaborative film.  What I think I ended up with looks a little more like Teatro Callejero or Teatro Campesino except on video, which I am still OK with.  I have been catching up on Revolutionary Film History in Latin America and in reading have realized that when women filmmakers joined the scene so to speak, that they made mostly video rather than "film" and that they used it to interrogate gender and gender roles rather than (public) politics.  In working with the guys, we discuss gender from time to time, such as when someone stereotypes based on gender, makes a gendered remark or insult, or refers to women as anything other than women.  However, because the issues they face on the day to day are less about gender than about race, color and nationality, we made a video that was more pressing to them.  I did become interested in A Man, When He is a Man, a 1982 film by Chilean filmmaker Valeria Sarmiento while reading up on women in the male-centered Revolutionary Film movement in Latin America.  The film is a documentary on "macho" culture in Costa Rica though it is meant to be read as referring to Latin America in general.  The idea of interviewing men and capturing the machismo intrigued me, but when I thought about the guys, I just couldn't imagine making a film about them that would expose their biases.  It made me realize that I: 1.) Idealize the guys for being such hard workers and 2.) can't imagine truly collaborating on a video centering on a subject that is foreign to most of them.  I realize that in a post about a film not about gender I have spoken a lot about it, but I think it is because I am already brainstorming for my next project which will have gendered aspects.  And since I will be working with a new group in a gender context (a gender and video project) then the subject can easily be collaborative.

   What the video is centered on is the issue of DUI/Sobriety/Drivers License checkpoints.  Checkpoints are a relatively new police practice.  Since the 1979 case of Delaware v. Prouse that decided that police cannot stop random vehicles for the sole reason of checking their licenses “there has been a proliferation in the use of sobriety checkpoints by state law enforcement authorities.”  (Francis)  The intended purpose of sobriety checkpoints is to “ reduce the number of drunk drivers on our highways and diminish the amount of pain, suffering and death that result from drunk driving.” (CHP)   The bulk of the arguments regarding checkpoints have been legally based, as some groups find them to be necessary to prevent drunk driving and are therefore are willing to infringe on the civil liberties of drivers.  Others however find them to be too invasive and unconstitutional.  The major issue that most people make regarding the legality of checkpoints is the fact that so many vehicles are impounded.  This relates to the 4th amendment’s “unreasonable searches and seizures” clause which states that the people have a right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. But because this amendment originally applied only to the federal government, the post Civil War 14th amendment of 1868 is also important because it made it applicable to the states.  The probable cause and warrant requirements for the 4th amendment have been subject to several exceptions carved out by the courts for the benefit of law enforcement.  The latest exception is the checkpoints based on the states interest in public safety.  (The border checkpoints exception was based on national security.)

   Checkpoints are one of the main issues that we organize around in the Inland Empire as in many other places.  We send text messages, facebook statuses and make phone calls when we know of a checkpoint location.  We hold vigils, go to city council meetings, hold and post signs warning drivers of checkpoints coming up.  But as much as I have researched checkpoints and try to spread the word, there are just never enough "Know Your Rights" trainings.  The corner might have some of the same guys for decades, but at the same time there are new guys coming in and out every day, man of which have no idea what to do in situations like checkpoints or any kind of police run-in.  Though I am not a lawyer, I know that we have the right not to incriminate ourselves, which is why I emphasize that in the film through the fictional phone advocate in the beginning (played by the famous Undocumented, Unafraid, Queer and Unashamed DREAMer Julio Salgado) and in the end with the inter-title that yells at the audience.  The video, though made with jornaleros in mind, is hopefully just a beginning.  The guys have already been talking about the next videos and what we should do when I get back from Central America and I am excited to make a film based on some of their experiences.

    I originally planned to make this project for my independent study with Jose, the super brilliant jornalero from Una Mirada a Los Invisibles and Machete Discussion, but after making plans, sharing revolutionary film manifestos and films with him and brainstorming together, his phone got turned off and I was on my own again.  It was a great reminder that this video/my independent study class is by no means the priority of a worker nor an easy luxury to be a part of.  So I ended up going a little backwards because my idea was to have horizontal decision making and idea creating, but I ended up where I was before with “Una Mirada” (not that that is bad!).  This meant recruiting guys who were interested, explaining everything, and making decisions together during the filming.  The guys, Pancho in particular, had a lot of ideas that I used.  For example, Pancho wanted to be a drunk driver which worked out as I could show that he could pick his car up the next morning while unlicensed drivers had to wait 30 days.  Pancho also had the idea of the actors faces being shown at the end with their “names.”  We all ad-libbed the whole time, though there were many times that one of us had an idea for a line and we would re-take the encounter.  For example, my brother jumped in to be an additional police officer midway through the filming and I think it worked out very well that way since though it was funny having JuanLoco be the officer, we needed someone less likeable.  Though we ad-libbed, I knew I wanted to use inter-titles a’la La Hora de Los Hornos.  I wanted to try the completely anti-neutral, pro-action route, though I couldn’t bring myself to go as far as using cut up B roll footage with voiceover. 

    I also knew I wanted the video to obviously be a video.  This was with Hungry Cinema  and Imperfect Cinema in mind in terms of cost and accessibility.  The video looked low budget because it was.  Also, I think that the video came off as fun because we had a lot of fun, but also serious for those who are affected by laws like 287g and vulnerable to expensive court hearings and impounds, jail time, and deportation.  The video is already getting some play with the anti-checkpoint crowd and has raised demand for a more activist oriented video that is less for what unlicensed drivers should do and more about how allies can organize and protest checkpoint policies.  This will be a whole new kind of video as it will have a different audience, but it is equally as important.  I showed the video to the guys twice already while doing our weekly computer classes and it sparked some conversation along with a lot of laughs at each other.  They seemed to enjoy watching the video and seeing that most of the cast was themselves or their compas from the “cachetero” and made they guys who weren’t in that video ask about the next one.  So though I am incredibly excited about this video and so happy with the way it came out, I am equally excited about what is going to come next.

    One thing that I need to work on which revolutionary (or New Latin American Cinema) filmmakers discussed, is the aspect of distribution.  Of course things have greatly changed because of the ease of using Youtube to distribute digitally, but if I were to truly be involved in distribution then I would organize screenings for more than just my internet network and the guys.  That is one project I need to work on.  I think that when I get back to the US then it would be great to show a few of the films back-to-back since they are short.  For now, I am thinking about how to lean as much as possible on Jorge Sanjines’s ideas about collaborative film while keeping in mind that revolutionary cinema is a male-centric genre for my next video project in Guatemala City.

Works Cited

“Sobriety Check Points.” California Highway Patrol. 11 Nov. 2008.  17 Dec. 2008 <>.

Francis, Eustace T. “Legal Development: Combating the Drunk Driver Menace: Conditioning the use of Public Highways on consent to Sobriety Checkpoint Seizures - the Constitutionality of a Model Consent Seizure Statute.” Albany Law Review 59.599 (1995).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

About the Revolutionary Filmmaking Project, Guatemala

Impetus: I decided to head up a project on media literacy, or learning how to be a critical consumer and an educated producer of media, is one major aspect of prevention education.  I believe that by giving young people tools to create films about gender and violence we are educating more than just the twenty mentees and mentors in the program, we are sharing that knowledge on a broader scale. 

Scope: This project is meant to reach a number of groups.  First and foremost it will directly affect the ten students who will be participating in the project, two high school students, eight college students. Secondly we aim to effect the ten mentors who will be train to mentor the student participants.  Thirdly we aim to effect the audience at the premiere of the films the students will make.  This audience will be comprised of faculty, staff, students, the families of the student filmmakers, the friends and neighbors from the communities of the student filmmakers, and other locals interested in the films.  Also included in the audience will be those who will watch the film online as we will be hosting it there as well.  This include people internationally, especially those in the United States and Guatemala, the location of MIA's offices.  Lastly, the student participants and mentors are encouraged to teach others and spread the words about feminism and film making once the project ends.

Project: The Revolutionary Film making Project, Guatemala is a five-week series of workshops and hands-on classes designed to introduce students to the art and craft of film making.  These workshops are an excellent exploration into the language of feminist and film theory and the tools of digital film making.  Workshop students will form groups and write, produce, direct and edit their own short film with the support of mentors.

The Objective: To inspire and teach young activists how to use film as a tool for social change. 

The Goals: To complete two 3-5 minute films on topics relating to MIA’s Mission Statement or the project themes of feminism, feminicide, men and feminism, gender equity/justice, and women in Guatemala. Once completed, the films will be shown at the Universidad de San Carlos  de Guatemala and the students will graduate from the program.

Timeline:  All workshops mandatory; attendance is required.  All workshops for will take place at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala, room TBA. 

Week 1:   Saturday, Aug 20 (10am-6pm)
Week 2:   Sat & Sun Aug 27 & 28 (10am Sat-6pm Sun)
Week 3:   Saturday, Sept 3 (10am-6pm)
Week 4:   Saturday, Sept 10 (10am-6pm)
Week 5:   Saturday, Sept 17 (10am-6pm)
Premiere: The week of Sept 26-30 (6pm-9pm)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Long Beach Pride Parade 2011

According to the LBLGP website, the Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Parade has become the 3rd largest in the nation with over 200 marching groups and floats.  This year, when a float went by with a huge globe on it that said "Pride Around the World," I turned to my friend and colleague and said "look, a float of old white people representing the whole world!"  This was before I realized that was the theme of the entire parade. According to Pat Crosby, co-president of Long Beach Pride, they decided on the theme because “Long Beach is an international city."   For me, the idea of "around the world" invoked people in other countries rather than the migrant communities and groups here in the US, and the parade did little to acknowledge (I would say nothing, but one never knows) the overlapping queer and migrant issue of citizenship rights through marriage which are not afforded in the cases of same sex couples.

I don't remember what the "theme" was the last time I went (which was 2009) but I do remember the time before that, in 2008; "I Am What I Am."  That year they had Popeye with a can of Spinach and seemed to be arguing that identity, however one identifed, was predetermined and out of their control.  Similarly, this year, every other float blasted Lady Gaga's "Born this Way," the anthem of LGBT essentialism.  I think there is a reason that Pride doesn't include that "Q," it is decidedly gay rather than queer as it argues for such liberal, inclusionary rights as marriage, aiming in many ways for what Judith Halberstam calls "straight time" or the "middle-class logic of reproductive temporality"which typically assumes that the time line which people live on ends in marriage and children.

As Pride progressed, there were police officers walking hand in hand, corporations such as Disney and Walgreens passing out stickers, and squad after squad of LGBT cheerleaders.  There were no signs of queer ideas about fluidity, queer temporality, or queer kinship.  Key words in young queer communities and queer theory such as "genderqueer," genderless pronouns such as "ze" and "they" and critiques of homonormativity and homonationalism were absent.  Could it be that many politicized queer people wrote Pride off long ago as being homonormative, white and male centric and capitalist in nature and just gave up?  It is a hard call sometimes to decide "to go or not to go" to events which many write off as "problematic."  But I have always been the one to go, support, and critique where necessary.  And I hope that instead of giving up on liberal ideas in "gay" rights, that radical queers can infiltrate, coalition build, and hold those movements which attempt to speak for gays "around the world" accountable for their messages.  For me, "born this way" and "i am what i am" just don't speak to my experience - my desires and feelings change constantly.  And "pride around the world" seems too homogenizing for me.  Universalization, though tempting, cannot begin to take into account the nuances and overt differences in race, class, gender, and nation among heterogenous queer groups.

The short video I made points to some of the classic Pride tropes, dykes on bikes, bondage, politicians, corporations, cheer, dance, marching band, drag queens (and no kings to speak of by the way), and rainbow after rainbow after rainbow.  And it wouldn't be Pride 2011 if it wasn't set to the Gaga anthem.  Check it out and decide for yourself what Pride means in today's sociopolitical climate.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Power Point I made in 2009 for an Internship with the Rosie the Riveter Task Force in Long Beach, Ca

Women of Color Rosies

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rally Against Hate & Nazi Rally + Playing with Video Effects

03/19/11 - A little context

     Today is the 8th anniversary of the Iraq War and the day the Nazis came to Claremont, California. We gathered in Claremont's Memorial Park and on the corners of Indian Hill and Foothill Blvd. on March 19, 2011 under awkward circumstances.  The announcement that the National Socialist Movement, a Neo-Nazi group, were coming to town evoked a series of emotions and reactions from friends, neighbors, coworkers and colleagues ranging from shock to anger to hurt to ambivalence and more.  The Nazis have a knack for unifying people as they hate pretty much everybody.  You have probably all looked at their website stating the requirements for membership, "those of pure White blood...not homosexual or Jew."  Though the NSM is against so-called "homosexuals" and have targeted gay pride, a gay church, and gay marraige in Ohio, Iowa and North Carolina, and unfurled their flags outside of Jewish synogogues, their agenda here in So Cal is different.  And I say "different" knowing that no aspect of human identity is removed or separate from the others. For example, one can be both queer and a migrant.  The NSM have stated that they chose to come to Claremont because the Claremont Colleges are pro-migrant. This is a compliment to many, as the colleges house scholar activists who encourage the humanization of migrants through their writing and by fostering student community engagement.  And there is a DREAMer presence that cannot be forgotten as one Claremont College student presented at the 'Perspectives on Queer Undocumented Identity' forum in Rialto today. Today people from the immigrant's rights movement, the anti-sexist movement, the anti-war movement, queer, feminist, animal liberation, anti-racist, religious, environmental movements....were all represented. We are all affected by fascism and we are all affected by anti-immigrant sentiment and laws.  

A little on Race and Immigration

How do you know race is there?  And is White really a race?  Critical race theorists have drawn up maps of how race can be perceived, performed, represented and embodied.  Though general consensus among racial theorists is that race is not biologically meaningful as a category, they have determined that social meanings are projected on race that are undeniably fraught with  real-life consequences.  Michael Omi and Howard Winant historically traced racial formation and racism in the US, arguing that race is cultural and historical, not biological.  They problematize the immigrant assimilation narrative,  pointing out that it requires white skin.  They say that people of color cannot fully assimilate to hegemonic Americanness as Americanness is equated with Whiteness.

Sentiment about race and immigration fluctuate radically in popular opinion and culture in the US, usually based on economic factors, demographic changes, and media representation.  Certain trends have emerged as to why outbreaks of anti-immigrant sentiment occur, the most prominent being a national crisis.   The US is facing a huge economic crisis.  Pair that with the fear of terrorism since 9-11 and the rhetorical conflation of immigrants with terrorists in politics, the news media, and popular culture, and what we end up with is a slippage in prioritizing the rights of immigrants.

According to law professor Kevin R. Johnson, "discrimination against immigrants often is legally acceptable." "The law" he said, "must police governmental conduct based on immigration status to ensure that it does not serve as a proxy for race."  Since today's immigrants are overwhelmingly people of color, when immigrants are targeted, it is impossible to ignore the racial implications.

A little on the Video

The first half of the video was the peaceful rally organized by Claremont College students intended to serve as a peaceful alternative to a confrontation with the NSM. The second half was the "protest" and "counter-protest," Nazis against people from various communities and movements. As you can see from the video, there was a lot of anger and shouting and the Nazis were clearly outnumbered. Though this is a good thing, it was also obvious that the scary ones were not the (approx 25) Nazis but the police, and this ended up dividing many activists between those that trusted the police to protect them and those that found the police to be worse than the Nazis.  This stemmed from the idea that the police have more power and that they chose to employ this power to protect the Nazis.  The photo below exemplifies one
group's paralleling of Nazi's and Police.

In terms of making the film, I wanted to show what I saw and how I experienced the event.  The 'rally against hate' at Memorial Park was basically a group of people being shouted at by one person on a megaphone interspersed with music and chanting.  Why no PA system? one might wonder.  The city of Claremont thwarted the rally by not approving sound in the park.  Without being able to hear the speakers, people lost interest and meandered down to the "action," a corner of people shouting and even more cops posturing with humongous weapons.  Though people were both connecting with one another and fighting with one another, there was also just a lot of pure spectatorship.  In an anti-climactic ending to the rally, the police escorted the NSM after one hour, walking them back to their vehicles.   This incited some people to shout triumphant chants about sending the Nazis away, some people tried to follow them to the cars, and  some people just threw their signs away and went home.   I tried to show this sharp contrast between the peace rally and the counter-Nazi protest by showing the happy hippie music and the  great points made by speakers Professor Jose Calderon and SGV DREAM Teamer Johnathan Perez at the rally and the discord, heavy police presence, sirens, chants, and anti-climactic footage of Nazis just standing around at the anti-Nazi protest.  Playing with the police in the video was a fun way to make their presence less ominous and showing activist discord in the face of the police was a way of showing that the peace rally's intentions of unity and peace could not account for interpersonal anger and differing standpoints of rally attendees.  

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A reading response paper I found from 2008 on Whiteness, Marxism, and Angela Davis

       I am reading about whiteness this week for a class and I was trying to find my old notes on the article "Whiteness as Property" which I read in my Feminist Theory undergrad class.  When I re-read my reading response on the 2 weeks worth of reading I thought wow, this sounds kind of like my previous post, so I decided to post it.  I realize that if you have not read these articles (listed below) the response might not make as much sense as I did not go into much detail on any one article, but maybe the response will inspire you to seek out the readings as they are all very poignant and important.

Cheryl Harris                “Whiteness as Property”
Linda Martín Alcoff      “What Should White People Do?”
bell hooks                      “Representing Whiteness in the Black Imagination”
Friedrich Engels            “Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State”
Heidi Hartmann            “The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism”
Angela Davis               “Women and Capitalism: Dialectics of Oppression and Liberation”

Whiteness, Marxism and Angela Davis

    The last readings were interesting, thought provoking, angering and very smart.  There are several themes that manage to interweave their way throughout each of these topics, namely the law, humanity, Marxism, race, property, coalition building, male/female relations including marriage, confinement and liberation. 

    In Harris’s article for example, she speaks about the construction of race as property, and describes the relationship between whiteness as property and black slaves as “subjugated and treated as property” by whites. (77)  The idea that black slaves were considered property to white slaveholders was not new to me, but the idea of whiteness actually being property blew my mind.  It makes sense, whiteness as something that can gain in interest, as something of fiscal import; it is just not something that would have otherwise occurred to me.  It really is a great way to articulate something I have been feeling recently. 

       A couple weeks ago in my US Women of Color class, my professor asked us to share with her a little about growing up looked like to us in relation to Nellie Wong’s poem “When I Was Growing Up.”  I am usually very careful to speak last and not too often in that class since I am the only women’s studies major and I am also one of the few white students-I like to provide room for the women of color to learn from one another.  Well there is another white female student in the class who is a self identified anarcha-feminist who speaks a lot and takes up a lot of space.  When we were sharing about growing up, she decided to say that she doesn’t identify as white because race is a social construction.  I had a lot of complicated feelings about this remark and made sure that when I shared I spoke about my complicated struggle with my whiteness. 

       I felt and feel that not identifying as white is part of white privilege because only white people have the opportunity/choice to ignore race.  People of color can refuse their color all they want, but will constantly be reminded that they are not white.  What I am trying to get across I think is that this revelation about whiteness as property helped me to pinpoint even more how whiteness functions, whether purposefully or not.  Martin Alcoff also specifically spoke to this on page 264 when she said, “[r]ace may be a social construction…yet it is real and powerful enough to alter the fundamental shape of all our lives.”

       Going back to Harris’s article about property-whiteness as and slaves treated as-leads me to Engels’ discussion of how black slave women belonged “unreservedly to the man.” (167)  The implications of this are that “their” (white men) white wives were oppressed by one sided “monogamy” and “their” black slave women were oppressed through slavery including forcible sexual slavery.  So white men essentially owned all property including whiteness, land, their monogamous wives and their slaves, all of which were at their disposal for any form of exploitation they decided to employ. 

      Lastly, Davis spoke about how in the present day the US prison system parallels with and is impacted by slavery due to its (continued) oppression of black women and men.  Though she mentions that the number of black women prisoners is rising rapidly, she speaks mainly about young black men being under the direct control of the criminal justice system. (98)  Being “under the control of” and “being the property of” are two separate ways of explaining away human beings as being in the state of non-freedom also known as slavery or incarceration depending on the historical context. 

        Davis’s radical stance of prison abolitionism and decarceration as well as her view of black slave women as the “caretakers of the house of resistance” were very new and inspiring ideas to me.  I have always heard criticism of the mushrooming prison system in the United States, but until reading Davis’s articles, I have never heard anyone advocate to completely do away with them.  Her argument is very convincing however, and I am officially recruited as a prison abolitionist.  As I said in class, crime is a social construction and it is created with a white supremacist bias implemented by white supremacist institutions and by racist law enforcement, attorneys, and judges. 

        Davis’s socialism informs her abolitionism since were we to be a socialist government, ideally there would be no need for many of the so-called crimes we have now such as theft, vagrancy, and urinating in public which is rumored to soon be considered as a sexual offense.  These crimes, were poverty to cease to exist, would look very different and would hold different meaning.

       The law also holds a large part in each group of readings: Harris speaks of race as legally defined as blood-borne (82), Haartman and Engels speak of marriage as a legal form of oppression, and Davis speaks extensively about the role of the law in the continued oppression of people of color especially in relation to the prison system.  These acknowledgements of the importance of the law allude to the ideas that even with a Marxist analysis, legal reform is still looked to as an immediate goal perhaps on the way to the real revolutions that would take down the “patriarchal capitalism” as Haartman called it.  This I am sure is debatable, but since the theorists speak of the law’s progression, the implication is that as it becomes less institutionally racist, there has been some measurability of success in the struggle to end oppression.

      These articles call for a recognition of the humanity and necessity for equal rights among all peoples, and the need for coalition building in order to attain the ultimate goal of liberation.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Some Thoughts on Reading Capitalism and Slavery in a Grad School classroom

Do you ever sit in a class and think about how happy you are to have finished all the piles of reading, like you understand the concepts and are ready to discuss and then there is no intellectual space to do so?  Cultural Studies has differed in many ways from Women's Studies (my undergraduate degree) and one of the main differences is pedagogical.  My Women's Studies classes necessitated engaged crtitcal dialogue originating and perpetuated as much as possible by the students but facilitated when necessary by the professors.  This forced us to not only have done the readings but to have understood them enough to drive a conversation about them.  My classes were usually all women and there were enough brief silences that it felt right when I spoke, as if we were giving eachother space to take turns.  I didn't fear I would be interrupted or that my thoughts wouldn't be heard.  I realize this sounds utopian; of course not all my classes were like this, but the ones for W/St majors only really were.  My experiences here in private graduate school as opposed to public undergraduate school differ greatly.  Here in private school the students and professors are from different economic backgrounds whereas at state we were basically poor and working class.  Here the students and professors are mixed genders whereas in Women's Studies my classes and professors were almost all women.  And here in private graduate school competition seems to be emphasized as students seem to leap over eachother to top one another in regards to book critiques, reputation, and experience.  Though I have now been here almost a year I am still getting used to the alien concepts of competition in and outside of the classroom and feeling the unease and stress at not being quick and loud enough to say my thoughts before topics change.

Eric Williams
So I decided to write my thoughts on the reading this week for my Introduction to Cultural Studies class in my blog, though they are now influenced by the class lecture and discussion.  Today a classmate presented briefly on Eric Williams's Capitalism and Slavery and in their presentation they brought up immigrant labor today and asked several questions about the connections between William's argument and today's economic dependency on sweatshops and migrant workers.  The weird thing though, at least different for me from Women's Studies again, was that for this class we are assigned to present briefly on the reading and then come up with questions for the class.  In W/St we did this as well and would basically facilitate discussion based on questions we created.  However, today after the student asked the questions the professor facilitated the rest of the class not based on the student's questions but on their own and we never came back to the presenter.  I had thoughts on the student's presentation and as the discussion didn't focus on it and the space in the class was not open I thought I would share some brief thoughts here.  As a side note I worry sometimes that I am just a whiny student who needs to learn to shout things out in class and stop being shy.  But I know I'm not shy and that in classes where the professor expects the students to drive the discussion I still thrive.  I am not the quickest thinker maybe as I like to formulate my thoughts in my head neatly before saying them, but in cases of many Cultural Studies classes by that time the discussion has quickly moved on or someone has said a similar thought more quickly.

So here is my piece.  Eric Williams's arguments were basically that the beginning of slavery in the so-called New World by England and its abolition as spearheaded by England were not based on race.  He says that it began because it was economically beneficial to England and that it ended because it was no longer economically beneficial to England.  He argued that race was used after slavery was already in place to justify it, but that it was not the reason for slavery.  He also argued against the sentimentality of abolitionism and the idea that England was so heroic/brave/selfless and symbolic of hope and humanitarianism for abolishing slavery first as this was not the reason they did so.  I am down with Williams though I think he downplayed race a lot because his argument was primarily economic and he wanted to differentiate his argument from others.  I think that slavery was both based on economic need and the idea that people from other lands with different customs and languages and who look "different" from English hegemonic "man" were underdeveloped mentally because they had a whole different paradigm of value, intelligence, labor, family, etc.

Rosie the Riveter
In thinking about the connections between hatred of African Americans and slavery as an economic system, this brings me to my classmates connection with immigrant labor.  Williams's argument that hatred came later makes sense when you think about other situations including labor by anyone but white men.  Today there is this liberal feminist idea that Rosie the Riveter is a symbol of women's strength, women's inclusion, and women's rights.  Rosie symbolizes women moving toward equality in the labor force.  But really Rosie is also sentimentalized under the auspices of humanitarianism when in reality she was war propaganda which, once the war ended, changed her tune.  As men returned home, women was practically forced out of their jobs and the common sentiment was that women were taking mens jobs away.  Just as they were first called patriotic for working, they were then demonized and called unpatrotic if they did not immediately stop working.  Rosie's image in propaganda began to look like a huge buff giant stepping on industries like Godzilla to make clear that paid labor was once again a man's job.  Then take the bracero program in which Mexicans were lured to the United States to work and were then deported and sent back to Mexico regardless that they had started families in the US.  "Americans" began to show hatred toward them for "taking their jobs" and blamed them for their own bad economy.  In both of these cases the empowerement of the laborers were followed by hateful discrimiation based on the threat that women or immigrants would/could one day have access to the same privileges as white men.  This for many people is scary because to some equality is a zero-sum game.

Anti sweatshop poster calling it slave labor
Women and migrant laborers are not slaves.  Some people liken maquiladoras and migrant workers to slave labor but there is a difference.  I do think there are modern day slaves and that these are people who are trafficked whether by kidnapping or trickery into another location so as to be isolated and then forced to work without pay.  Undocumented laborers in the US and sweatshop workers outside of the US are often exploited in that they are underpaid for their work and sometimes not paid at all, forced to work in hazardous and unhealthy conditions and they are working without job security.  There are also issues such as sexual harrassment and assault, and all of these conditions and effects occur with impunity.  But as bad as the work conditions are, as overtly exploitative, this is still not slavery because slaves are the property of their masters and exploited and underserved workers are not.  To use the term slavery, even when paired such as in the case of "wage slavery" is to change the meaning of the term such as when the term "rape" is paired with other words like "raped my wallet."  The inherent meaning of rape is about the use of sexual means to gain power just as slavery is about owning a human being for personal use.  When used to describe situations other than these they are being misused and misappropriated to bring the weight of their own meaning to another issue.  Comparing and discussing slavery, servitude, and underpaid and exploited labor is fine, but a word with as specific and important a word as slavery should only be used to describe situations that are in fact slavery.

I hope that all made sense.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cherrie Moraga - An Intellectual Biography

I have recently been thinking about my whiteness and the complicated relationship between my white skin privilege, my Chicana identity, my activism, my queerness, and how to negotiate issues of "passing" and being "read" as straight and white.  This led me to my old paper on "La Cherrie" who also had to grapple with these issues.

On October 11, 2008 parts of me shifted.  Like a drawstring bag filled with loose pieces, I was shaken, and some of my parts settled into new spaces.  Cherríe Moraga or “La Cherríe” as those (of us) who love her often call her, gave a speech entitled Still Loving in the Still War Years at Cal State Los Angeles for the 2nd Annual National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS) Joto Caucus and her words fell on us like drops of moisture on dry skin.  The name of her speech was a throwback to her 1983 book Loving in the War Years and it’s title poem in which she argued that she lived in a “war time…where being queer and female is as rude as we can get.”  Clearly Moraga believed that not much had changed in thirty years.

     “It’s not about the ‘me’ it’s about the ‘we’ she said in her opening, reminding us about the role of the ego. “The whole notion of collaboration, especially politically, is such a great lesson to learn” she added as she thanked the organizers of the event (Still Loving).  As a woman who is well known for her collaborative works, Moraga has contributed much to the field of women’s studies through her joint efforts to document women of color feminism, Chicana feminism, and queer women of color feminism.   Cherríe Moraga has added significantly to many fields of feminist theory, most notably that of feminist identity politics, queer theory, Chicana feminism and intersectional analysis.  However, her work is much more diverse than just writing and editing essays and books.  She is also a prolific poet and playwright and has given speeches and presented papers at countless conferences and events all over the world.  
In her autobiographical work she said that she “wrote against absence, against that literary political site where I was not represented (Still Loving).”  Moraga’s mother was Chicana and her father Anglo.  In her writings she identifies as several contradictory and often negative terms.  “Half-breed,” a “product of invasion,” and a “betray[er]” of her race, as well as “queer,” “lesbian,” “pervert, and both “guera,” and “Chicana.”  These split identifiers are evidence of both Moraga’s identity politics and her playfulness with identity which allows her to both identify politically as certain things while keeping in mind the constructedness of such identities.  
She focuses on her relationship with her Chicana mother especially in relation to her race, gender and sexuality identity politics and documents her learning about heterosexism, patriarchy, and the family as a complicated site from this relationship.  “You are a traitor to your race if you do not put the man first” she wrote, referring to both her mother’s preference for her brother and acknowledging her role as a traitor for choosing to be lesbian (Loving 103).  Her experiences in a patriarchal family, along with her split Chicana/Anglo self, her working class upbringing, and her closeted queerness have informed her writings and helped her to acknowledge the intersectionality of oppressions.  The theme of betrayer and traitor weaves itself in much of her writing, along with the associated guilt.

Moraga’s poem, La Dulce Culpa (1983) and her essay A Long Line of Vendidas (1983) ground us in her childhood and how her relationship with her mother shaped her identity as a lesbian and a feminist aware of both her privileges and oppressions.  “What kind of lover have you made me mother who drew me into bed with you at six/at seventeen” she asks in La Dulce Culpa.  She goes on to describe her mother’s unrequited love for her father and implies that her closeness with her mother in the absence of his presence and his touch played a part in her acknowledging her queerness  (Loving 14).  
Vendidas spoke at length about her brother’s male privilege within the household and his unearned love from her mother.  “The only thing that earned my brother my servitude was his maleness” she said of having to serve him and his friends while growing up. (Loving 90) Moraga described this as how she perceived a Chicano family is supposed to treat men, which is to prioritize them, making clear her understanding of the weight that her ultimate betrayal of choosing a sexuality which excludes all men and “most dangerously, Chicano men” carried. (Loving 117)  This is an example of the intersectionality of the cultural gender oppression she experienced in her own home since it was not that just her brother’s maleness that provided him privilege, but his maleness in a Chicano household.
In Vendidas Moraga tackles the Chicano gender dichotomy of La Chingada, the passive, feminine “fucked one” and El Chingon, the active macho man, or “fucker” who she personified in La Malinche and Cortez.  She explains that Malinche thought that Cortez was Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec serpent god come to redeem his people.  Regardless, Malinche is portrayed as the betrayer of “her indio people” because she translated and procreated with Cortez; their “offspring symbolically represent[ing] the birth of the bastardized mestizo/Mexicano people.” Moraga personally connected with this story, considering herself the child of a “modern-day Chicana Malinche marrying a white man… (Loving 100, 117, 118)”

 This analysis contributed to Chicana feminism by both identifying Malinche as someone other than a traitor to her race and by problemitizing the blame that all Chicana/mestiza women have carried for the conquest of Mexico and all issues since.  Moraga even points out that though Chicano gay men are considered diseased, that because they are not women, they “do not suffer the same stigma of traitor.” (Loving 114)  This last quote contributes to queer theory in that Moraga adds both Chicana lesbians and Chicano gays to the story and does not erase the gendered and racialized aspects of their queerness.
In 1981 Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua co-edited the anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color thereby creating the secular Bible of what is now known as women of color feminism or third world feminism.  This book included an autobiographical essay that is now used in critical white studies, women’s studies and Chican@ studies called La Guera.  This essay marked the departure that she later wrote about in her poem For the Color of My Mother. “I am a white girl gone brown to the blood color of my mother” she wrote.  (Loving 60)  La Guera both documents Moraga’s journey from closeted queer “white girl” to lesbian Chicana as well as her internal journey in which she learned about oppression.
“When I finally lifted the lid to my lesbianism, a profound connection with my mother reawakened in me. It wasn't until I acknowledged and confronted my own lesbianism in the flesh, that my heartfelt identification with and empathy for my mother's oppression--due to being poor, uneducated, and Chicana--was realized.” (This Bridge 29)  This quote is an example of intersectional analysis in that once Moraga experienced what she called the “discrimination of silence” about being queer as well as the difficulties she faced once she came out, she could recognize the interrelated oppressions that she faced as a female, working class, Chicana lesbian as well as understand and recognize her mother’s oppressions.  (Still Loving)

Also in La Guera Moraga more specifically addresses intersectionality.  As this is an incredibly relevant and brilliant quote, it deserves to be quoted at length.
"In this country, lesbianism is a poverty-as is being brown, as is being a woman, as is being just plain poor.  The danger lies in ranking the oppressions.  The danger lies in failing to acknowledge the specificity of the oppression.  The danger lies in attempting to deal with oppression purely from a theoretical base.  Without an emotional, heartfelt grappling with the source of our own oppression, without naming the enemy within ourselves and outside of us, no authentic, non-hierarchical connection among oppressed groups can take place." (This Bridge 33)
Cherríe Moraga’s passionate argument that oppression must be looked at personally, politically, emotionally, internally, externally, and as multi-layered and complicated is a bold one.  Later in La Guera she discusses that the oppressor is more fearful of similarity than of difference and that all women “have in way been both oppressed and oppressor” but are “afraid to look at how we have failed each other.” (This Bridge 37-38)  Her courageous admittance to both categories of oppressor and oppressed are the ultimate proof of her belief in intersectionality; she can both acknowledge her ability to “pass” as white and see her skin privilege as well as understand her simultaneous sexual and class oppression.  Her ability to look at herself and, in retrospect see how she “rode the wave” of her privilege speaks to her idea that “it is looking to the nightmare that the dream is found; the nightmare being internalization of the values of the oppressor.” (This Bridge 39-40)  
In 1984 Moraga and Anzaldua rereleased the anthology This Bridge Called My Back using Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, a publishing company Moraga helped cofound which provided space for women of color feminist writers.  Moraga has been able to make the people who are invisible visible by personifying them as characters in her plays, writing about them in her poetry, and including them in her books.  
“Having spent the first ten years as a poet and essayist with a fixed relationship to autobiography, it was a great revelation and relief to discover that I was not limited to my own personal biography as a writer, but that a much larger community of people could inhabit me and speak through me: La Raza.”  Her diverse cast of characters work to unveil the working people, the youth of color, the indigenous, the queer.  And in her quest not to betray herself or the people she portrays she also works to also perform for this same community. (Art in America)
Moraga has written over a dozen plays, the first of which, Giving up the Ghost, was printed in 1986.  “Ghost carries to the stage the discussion in ‘Vendidas’ of the definition of masculinity as the active chignon and of femininity as the passive chingada Yabro Benjamin wrote in The Wounded Heart: Writing on Cherríe Moraga.  (36)  Moraga does this through her main character Marisa/Corky who drifts between both dichotomous gender roles and her lover Amalia who drifts between two sexualities.  Her more recent play, The Hungry Woman (2000) also depicts a character, Medea, who similarly switches sexualities while her lover stays a steadfast lesbian who was “born that way.” (52) These characters provide an argument that contributes to queer theory by stating that queerness can be chosen, but can also be something that many feel has just always been there.
As Yabro Benjamin stated, Moraga’s Chicana lesbian characters portray pieces of the active and passive, fucker and fucked.  In Vendidas, Moraga addressed the white lesbian feminist idea that “the desire to penetrate and be penetrated…would vanish” because “women were different” and somehow transcendent of “old notions.” Through the characters in her plays, her autobiographical and other writing, Moraga argues against this idea, and the framework of lesbian as defined by white feminists, to allow for diversity, messiness, and complexity of gender and sexual identities.  She does not erase el chingon from the lesbian relationships and rejects the utopian idea that because men are not involved in the relationship, that there is no longer a “power struggle.” (Loving 125-126)  
In the play Heroes and Saints (1992), Moraga created a character named Cerezita who was born with the birth defect of having no body; just a head.  In Moraga’s 1992 article Art in America, Con Acento she stated that “This is the condition of the Mexicana woman…There is no body to inhabit between the polarized figures of La Virgen de Guadalupe and La Chingada.”  Cerezita’s character very literally presents herself as the (un)bodily extension of the identity politics Moraga argues exists for lesbian Chicana women.  Neither La Virgen nor La Chingada reflect the Chicana lesbian, and though Cerezita is not lesbian, “a lesbian sensibility has created her.” (Art in America 1992)
Aside from the character of Cerezita, Moraga has included the amputated and fractured body in several of her writings.  The image of her mother’s disembodied head in the poem For the Color of My Mother, and the mutilated and legless body in the poem You Call It, Amputation are examples of these broken bodied themes.  “The body with its amputated parts is there and not there at the same time, much in the same way women’s bodies are theirs and not theirs” stated Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano. (15)  Moraga’s “dismantling and recomposition” of the body, and specifically the Chicana body and/or the queer body are according to Yarbro-Bejarano “part of the process of making sense” of the multiple and split identities. (20)
Moraga’s emphasis on the body also emerges in her 2008 speech Still Loving in the Still War Years as she discusses gender reassignment surgery.  She expresses concern that in the future “sex change will become so commonplace that even transgender folk will cease to be queer” and wonders if the “lover-body we assume [will] no longer matter.” “What will be the site of resistance?” she asks.  This question makes evident the value she attributes the body in the scope of identity politics, especially for the queer Chicana.  Though I agree that many transgender people do not identify as queer and want nothing more than to be cisgender and heteronormative, this does not take away from queerness in any way, if anything it proves that regardless of gender and sexual rhetoric, in reality sex and gender are more fluid than even those who transcend gender and sexuality believe. In the same speech she acknowledges that being queer and of color does not necessarily make one radical and quotes her partner who said “not everybody wants to be free.” (Still Loving) 
Everybody may not want to be free, but Moraga is determined to keep the movement alive and maintain a feminist solidarity.  At the 1982 Barnard Sexuality Conference, Moraga described her “terrible fear” that though feminism “saved her” by giving her a place to safely love a woman, that her fear that she may once again be “thrust outside of the circle of acceptance” remained.  Her words were specific to a context when the movement was “breaking down around sex,” and though she stated that women of color were being played between white hands in this internal conflict, she still argued for feminists not to push each other out of this circle.  Though Moraga is quick to acknowledge when she finds an absence where women of color should be, she is a believer in a movimiento.  
Hear her speech from the Jot@ Caucus 2008
“First, we need to learn about each other” she states in her article A Unified Rainbow of Strength.  The concept of intersectionality plays a large part in the movement she envisions: “Given our identities, we have had to learn that a single-issued movement will not be about freeing us up…We refuse to postpone our womanness, our gayness, our color to make revolution easier for somebody else to swallow” Moraga said in 1982. (Rainbow) And now, twenty six years later in her 2008 speech, Moraga stays true to this idea: “Latino and Latina, Chicana, Chicano, Indigina and Africano origin queer people…do not have the privilege of a single issue movement” she said of the single issue battle for gay marriage.  
After the conference, I spent a glorious moment with “La Cherríe,” and had a chance to ask her what had awakened her consciousness.  She described the discrimination she experienced in coming out as a lesbian and the silent suffering that preceded it.  “When I came out, that was a moment of realizing I would never not choose freedom again” she told me (Still Loving).  As Moraga quoted her partner, not everybody wants to be free.  But Moraga, who has fought so hard for freedom, has thankfully come to realize the importance of that struggle and used it as a theoretical base for taking it to the “nightmarish” places necessary to fight for liberation for all oppressed peoples. 

Works Cited 
Moraga, Cherrie. “Art in America, Con Acento .” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 12.3 (1992): 154-160 .
Moraga, Cherrie. “Barnard sexuality conference: played between white hands.” Off Our Backs 12.7 (1982): 23.
Moraga, Cherrie. Giving Up The Ghost. Albuquerque: West End Press, 1986.
Moraga, Cherrie. The Hungry Woman. Albuquerque: West End Press, 2001.
Moraga, Cherrie. Loving in the War Years. Boston: South End Press, 1983.
Moraga, Cherrie. “Still Loving in the Still War Years.” National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Joto Caucus. California State University Los Angeles. 11 Oct. 2008.
Moraga, Cherrie. “A unified rainbow of strength.” Off Our Backs 12.2 (1982): 6.
Moraga, Cherrie. Watsonville/Circle in the Dirt. Albuquerque: West End Press, 1995.
Moraga, Cherrie, and Gloria Anzaldua. This Bridge Called my Back: Writings by 
Radical Women of Color. New York: Kitchen Table Press, 1984.
Thompson, Lisa B. “Watsonville/Circles in the Dirt (review).” Theatre Journal 56.3 (2004): 523-525.
Yarbro-Bejarano, Yvonne. The Wounded Heart. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001.