more info on revolutionary motherhood

February 24, 2008 at 10:26 pm (anti-classism, anti-heterosexism, anti-oppression, anti-racism, anti-sexism)

for those of you who are interested in being able to get advanced copies or more information about the revolutionary motherhood publications please sign up to the listserve:   thanks lilia.

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call for submissions: revolutionary motherhood

February 23, 2008 at 7:36 pm (anti-classism, anti-heterosexism, anti-oppression, anti-racism, anti-sexism, women of color)

Revolutionary Motherhood

Call for submissions

Due by March 30th, 2008

We are creating a global multi-media publication called Revolutionary Motherhood inspired by the Incite! 2008 Southwest conference and the workshop entitled: Revolutionary Motherhood.  The intention of this publication is to inspire, connect, and organize women and transfolk of color who perform motherhood and daughterhood to co-create life-affirming, mutually liberating communities.

Please send submissions to mai’a at

Please check out, and for more information.

We are asking for articles, essays, interviews, black and white visual art, photography, poetry, etc .

 Exploring themes and questions such as:

What does it mean to be a mother?  What does it mean to be a daughter?

What does it mean to give birth?  How do we give birth as empowered women and transgendered folk?  What is the transition into motherhood?

What is revolutionary motherhood?  How does our experience and performance as women and transfolk of color intersect with our experience of mothering?

What are the daily acts of resistance in which we engage as mothers and daughters?  How did motherhood change our vision of resistance, revolution, and radical action?  What is our relationship to activism and the activism world through the experience of motherhood?

What is the experience of mothering those who are older than us such as parents, grandparents, etc.?  What is the experience of mothering those who are not biological descendents such as students, godchildren, stepchildren, etc.?

In what ways did our mothers model ‘revolutionary motherhood’? What is revolutionary daughterhood?  As a daughter, how do we relate and engage with the mothers and daughters in our community?  Who and what inspires us as mothers and daughters?

What does it mean to be the revolutionary mother of a boy-child/a son?  What is the experience of being a son?  How do we respond to the demonization of mothers of color who care for boy-children/sons? 

What are the specific ways that violence intersects with the experience of motherhood? In what ways does the anti-violence movement need to be more responsible to the experience of mothers of color?  How do we respond to the violence in the medical establishment in terms of pregnancy, birth, child-rearing, elder-care, etc.?

What are specific ways that the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality, nationality play with the acts of mothering and daughtering?



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February 23, 2008 at 3:46 am (anti-heterosexism, anti-oppression, anti-racism, anti-sexism, Uncategorized)

i am so angry at the jurors of white women who could not see themselves wholly in these four young women of color.  and two of whom are mothers.

this is what i want to tell my daughter…that you can fight for your life and your dignity in this world.  but, i think that i may end up telling her (as my mother did to me) that you have to fight for your life and your dignity in this world no matter what. and the world will rarely reward you for that courage or intelligence or creativity.  the world will rarely hold you after you are bloody and exhausted and rock you to sleep softly.  instead more likely they will throw you into a cell.

god, this world is sad.  but if she fights, she will not only have a better chance to survive whole and loving, she will support four lesbian women who ought to have the right to fight for us.

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the new jersey four

February 23, 2008 at 3:23 am (anti-heterosexism, anti-oppression, anti-sexism, women of color)

In the summer of 2006, seven young Black lesbians from New Jersey—Patreese Johnson, Renata Hill, Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Chenese Loyal, Lania Daniels, and Khamysha Coates—were hanging out on the pier in New York City’s West Village when Dwayne Buckle, a man selling DVDs on the street, sexually propositioned Patreese. Refusing to take no for an answer, he followed them down the street, insulting and threatening them: “I’ll **** you straight, sweetheart!”It is important to understand that all seven women knew of another young woman named Sakia Gunn, who had been stabbed to death under very similar circumstances—by a pair of highly aggressive, verbally abusive male strangers. At least some of the seven had known Sakia personally.

During the resulting confrontation, Buckle first spat in Renata’s face and threw his lit cigarette at her, then he yanked another’s hair, pulling her towards him, and then began strangling Renata. A fight broke out, during which Patreese Johnson, 4 feet 11 inches tall and 95 pounds, produced a small knife from her bag to stop Buckle from choking her friend—a knife she carried to protect herself when she came home alone from her late-night job.

Two male onlookers, one of whom had a knife, ran over to physically deal with Buckle in order to help the women. Buckle, who ended up hospitalized for five days with stomach and liver lacerations, initially reported on at least two occasions that the men—not the women—had attacked him. What’s more, Patreese’s knife was never tested for DNA, the men who beat Buckle were never questioned by police, and the whole incident was captured on surveillance video. Yet the women ended up on trial for attempted murder. Dwayne Buckle testified against them.

The media coverage was savage, calling the women such things as a “wolf pack of lesbians.” The pro bono lawyers for the young lesbians would later have to buy the public record of the case since the judge, Edward J. McLaughlin (who openly taunted and expressed contempt for the women in front of the jury all throughout the trial), would not release it. As of late August 2007, the defense team still didn’t have a copy of the security camera video footage. And after the better part of one year spent sitting in jail, four of the seven women were sentenced in June 2007—reportedly by an all-white jury of mostly women—to jail terms ranging from 3 1/2 to 11 years. The oldest of the women was 24, and two of them are mothers of small children.

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messy and beautiful

February 20, 2008 at 11:22 pm (anti-racism, chiapas)

This encuentro says much about the evolution of women’s participation in the Zapatista movement. In its early years, the EZLN, like many other revolutionary movements, saw the importance of women’s participation, but for the sake of strengthening the movement, rather than to promote women’s liberation as a goal in itself: “Compañeras, the revolutionary struggle needs you..!” As time went on, the EZLN began to recognize the importance of women having their own spaces, their own voices, and real leadership within the movement.

This is not an uncommon process. During the encuentro, I was talking to a member of the Via Campesina delegation, a Brazilian woman representing the Landless People’s Movement (MST) and she nodded thoughtfully and said in Portuguese, “yes, it’s the same process that the MST went through.”

This women’s gathering represents how far the Zapatista movement has come in valuing women’s voices and participation. It is difficult to imagine an event like this taking place even a few years ago.

this echoes what an indigenous friend from chiapas said to me.  that this was an amazing step for zap women and that what we are watching and participating in is a process in which zap women are able to organize themselves and decide for themselves what is their role in their communities.   it is can be messy and beautiful.  complicated and necessary.

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collective writing on the zapatista womens encuentro

February 20, 2008 at 11:15 pm (anti-racism, anti-sexism, chiapas, Motherhood, women of color)

okay so this is the second article i found online on the zapatista womens encuentro

unlike the previous article that i cited, this article is written by 4 women, rather than one man.  at least one of whom i have met a couple of times and hung out with at the encuentro.  and we had a good strong conversation on the role of women and community in the encuentro and in the states.  so good for them for creating collaborative work.

For centuries, indigenous and poor women have carried the responsibility of these tasks. Their backs have held the weight of the survival of their families, communities, and cultures. Their resistance is inseparable from that of their communities, serving as an integral source of strength. The Zapatista women emphasize a dynamic relationship between derechos y deberes [rights and responsibilities]. As young women born to white feminists in the US, we joined many 2nd and 3rd wave feminists in the crowd who’ve been taught that women’s liberation means equal rights, that it is a movement towards independence and self-determination. Our politics of feminism and solidarity are perhaps tested, seeing the women of this indigenous Zapatista movement declare their rights as integral to their collective responsibility, for the well-being of their community. Indigenous men, standing at the edges of the auditorium, shading their eyes from the sun nodded in agreement as the voices of the Zapatista women demanded the right to education, emphasizing the responsibility to become promoters of education. As their voices demanded the right to choose their own partners, they emphasized the responsibility of participating in family and community matters. By having a women’s encuentro, they sought to have their voices heard and not spoken over or marginalized. But when questioned about whether this was the beginning of their own women’s movement, and if they wanted to create more women-only spaces; they emphasized that the movement included their brothers, husbands, children, elders…everyone in the community. This appeared as something distinctly different from women’s liberation; more like collective liberation. Or better yet, described as Zapatismo.

i am really grateful for them writing about the relationship between zap women and first world women in a cogent critical way.   but i really want to point out that there is a strong history in mujeristas, black feminism, red women movement, womanism that has had this same critique (for decades).  one of the leaders of third world feminism is rebecca walker, who is the daughter of alice walker, one of the primary articulators of ‘womanism’.  my primary critiques of third wave feminism is the emphasis on ‘choice’ and how this emphasis on ‘choice’ reinscribes the erasure of a class critique on feminism.   and by (kinda) erasing the history of the ways and strategies of women of color struggling for community liberation, by just lumping all feminists from the first world, under this banner in which our primary goal is individualism, this paragraph denies the complexity of womens thought in the first world.

i also question the dichotomy of ‘women-only spaces’ and  collective liberation.    in nearly every community i have seen womens only spaces already exist. often by the ways that ‘womens work’ is circumscribed.  the question is (in my humble opinion) how and when are these women only spaces utilized. and in the same way that i know that my liberation is experienced through motherhood, in part because motherhood is one of those social spaces in which i connect with women across the social borders and hierachies, i also see my experience and enjoyment of motherhood to be part of the collective liberation of our communities and our worlds.

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article on the womens encuentro

February 20, 2008 at 10:41 pm (anti-racism, anti-sexism, chiapas, women of color)

so john ross wrote the first article i read about the zapatista womens encuentro that we attended.

The Zapatista companeras’ struggle for inclusion and parity with their male counterparts grates against separatist politics that some militant first-world feminists who journeyed to the jungle espouse. Lesbian couples and collectives seemed a substantial faction in the first-world feminist delegations. Although no Zapatista women has publicly come out, the EZLN has been zealous in its inclusion of Lesbians and Gays and incorporate their struggles in the rainbow of marginated constitutioncies with whose cause they align themselves.

i didnt see alot of lesbian couples.  a smattering.  nor did i encounter alot of ‘seperatist politics’.  yeah i saw zines (mainly in spanish frankly) and tshirts with a woman with a fist in the air or some symbolism of female biology, but there is a difference between being seperatist and being pro-woman.

Sadly, the Encuentro of the Women of the World with the Zapatista Women did not provoke much formal interchange between the rebel companeras and first-world feminists – who were limited to five-minute presentations on the final day of the event. Nonetheless, a surprise Zapatista womens’ theater piece did imply a critique: in the skit, a planeload of first-world feminists with funny hair (played by the companeras) lands in the jungle to deliver the poor Indian women from oppression.

this was a really cute play.  but it is irresponsible for mr.  ross to emphasize this critique of zapatista women as part of disparaging first world women.  this play was also and much more so a critique of men’s role in the movement: zapatista, indigenous, and international.  and yet no where in this article does ross speak to the critiques that zapatista women had of international (read international men) role in the movement.  instead he makes it seem as if the zapatista women tolerated having these ‘militant seperatist lesbians’ (o000h scary lesbians) at the encuentro.

Among international delegations in attendance were women representatives from agrarian movements as far removed from Chiapas as Brazil and Senegal, organized by Via Campesina, an alliance that represents millions of poor farmers in the third world, and a group of militant women from Venice, Italy who have been battling expansion of a U.S. military base in that historic city. Political prisoners were represented by Trinidad Ramirez, partner of imprisoned Ignacio del Valle (67 year sentence), leader of the farmers of Atenco. A message from “Colonel Aurora” (Gloria Arenas), a jailed leader of the Popular Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI), who now supports the EZLN, was read. Although he reputedly lives only a few villages away, Subcomandante Marcos (or his penis) did not put in an appearance at the womens’ gathering.

okay.  the reference to marcos’s penis is just one more attack on international women’s presence at an encuentro which was entitled: zapatista women meet the women of the world.  why doesnt he have a critique of his presence at the encuentro?  what i hear is a great resentment that in this encuentro it was not only expected that zap men take a back seat but that he does as well.  for instance there was a constant reminder from the zap women leaders that there were spaces that were women only and i saw lots of international men.  so many that plenty of times i couldnt find a seat.

Ladling out chicken soup at her makeshift food stand, Dona Laura told La Jornada chronicler Hermann Bellinghausen that once the womens’ “Encuentro” had concluded, everything would return to normal – “only normal would be different now.”

Although the Encounter amply demonstrated the increasing empowerment of the Zapatista companeras, how much of what was said actually rubbed off on those who came from the outside is open to question. “I didn’t really get a lot of it,” confided one young non-Spanish-speaking activist on her way home to northern California to report back on the womens’ gathering to her Zapatista solidarity group.

and this is the linchpin.  this is the only international woman (mujer del mundo) who gets a direct quote.  even though the vast majority of women there (international mexican indigenous) could understand spanish. and it is one of the last lines that he writes in this article.  oh this poor little girl who doesnt understand zapatista women like he the zap women expert does.  and so he can minimize and ridicule the participation of women from his part of the world (he too is from northern california) , by making her representative (and those evil seperatist lesbians) of international women at the encuentro, he can make this encuentro really about zap women meeting international men.

look i got my own critiques of the way that white women co-opt the movements of indigenous women and lump the lives of women together with little to no acknowledgement of the price of white women’s liberation to indigenous women and women of color.  but i am also really critical of the ways that white men denigrate white women by using women of color and indigenous women as props.  like the big white man is going to save and protect these little zap women from the evil separatist (vagina dentata)man-hating women.  it is denigrating to all of us.

maybe rather than him working on this article he should have done what the zap women asked him to do on all those infamous signs posted around la garrucha: take care of the kids, bring firewood, cook some food.

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permiteme que te ignore

February 12, 2008 at 10:27 pm (anti-racism, mexico, Uncategorized)

Last week I went to the ritzy coffee shop near the center of san cristobal and hung out for two days drinking coffee and using the wifi. The third day my partner and babe were with me. he ordered coffee and she smiled at him and the babe in his rebozo (babywrap). Which was a little surprising because she had been short with me before they had arrived, but I figured who can resist such a cute baby? When she came back with the coffee she asked him: is that her baby? Pointing to me. He answers : this is our baby. A couple of raised eyebrows staring at her backside as she walks away.

When she comes back she asks my partner another question about me. I say to her: I can speak. She looks at my partner giggles and says: can she speak?

Okay. It was time to get the check and get the fuck out of there.

This weekend I got a series of boys yelling ‘negra’ out of their cars at me. It was as if I was back in Palestine.

Also this weekend, a friend and I were having juice, when she pointed out that the multigenerational family behind us were staring. I hadn’t even noticed. Guess some things you get used to.

Then today, my partner comes home from the taco restaurant, telling me a delicious story of the woman who works there. She has been unusually friendly to us the past couple of times we have gone. Before she was normally surly, casting hidden evil looks. And today she asked him if the woman he normally comes in with was his wife. To which he answered: yes. And then she said that the mix had turned out well. Our daughter was very light.

And to think my Spanish teacher told me there was no racism in mexico.

Some weeks are just hard.

This week reminds me of being in the west bank. And attempting to explain to a Palestinian friend that racism and colorism wasn’t better in the states but I was more used to the stateside system and manifestations and knew how to respond better.

The first time I came to southern mexico, I met a great us journalist living in Oaxaca and writing about the indigenous resistance. She told me that once she had shown a video to a group of indigenous fishermen of how black (from the Atlantic Coast) Honduran fishermen had resisted some onslaught of economic globalization. All the oaxacan fishermen could focus on was the fact that the fishermen in the video were black. She had to stop the video after a couple of minutes and decided she couldn’t use that video anymore. She says to me: I don’t know how I would do this work if I was black.

On one level, I forget that I look African. Even though I am from the states. Northerners are quick to point out that I have passport privilege (just like them), and that is very true. An American passport and African skin. People treat me like I am a us citizen (after I tell them I am one), but not like I am white. And African skin is not very common here.

I forget that I look African. I am used to being black. I was born in washington dc and have only spent three months on the continent of Africa. Rarely in the States does anyone think I was born in Africa.

Maybe if I started saying that I was from Africa when people ask (which they do…often…I mean that’s just being a foreigner) I would not experience such a shock when they see me as such.

On another level, internalized white supremacy is hard at work here in mexico as it is nearly everywhere in the world. Doesn’t ‘internalized white supremacy’ sound so abstract? So critical cultural worker theoretical? Not to mention the white Mexicans. Like the taco stand lady. She must be so proud of her own clear white skin.

The first day we arrived in san cristobal, I was eating breakfast in a little shop and saw a television commercial for skin whitener cream. I haven’t really seen a television since.

A couple of weeks ago, while we were having drinks with the neighbors, the husband called me ‘negrita’, and the wife pulled him into the kitchen for a little talking to. And then she gifted me a shirt, that I had once complimented her on, it says: permiteme que te ignore. Allow me to ignore you.


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February 11, 2008 at 8:40 pm (Uncategorized)

okay.  watch this video.  and tell me: is ann coulter supporting hillary clinton?  because hillary is a better conservative than john mc cain?  i mean yes ann coulter is a bit of a nutjob.   i know that this is not real news or an exploration of real issues bu, sometimes you just have to sit there and watch the train wreck…

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in mexico dreaming of cuba

February 10, 2008 at 7:55 pm (cuba) (, , )

today is beautiful warm with a sky blue sky and cotton clouds. it is as if winter broke and let spring in for a bit. and i would love to visit cuba before castro kicks it. cause it is scary to think of what will happen to that lil island when the u.s. moves from guantanamo to the entire island. plus i have empathy for castro. i mean he is paranoid, and people are out to get him…alot of vets are like that.
http://groups. group/CubaNews
============ ========= ========= ========= ========= ========= ===
(“He does not wish to remember that Mexico was robbed of more than 50 percent of its territory in a war of conquest, and he would like nobody to recall that on the Berlin Wall, during its almost 30 years of existence, less people died trying to gain access to the “Free World” than Latin Americans are dying today –no less than 500 each year–trying to cross the border in search of employment, with no Adjustment Act to grant them privileges and motivation as it does for Cuban citizens. The numbers of illegal immigrants arrested and traumatically deported every year totals in the hundreds of thousands.”
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— –
(“After mentioning Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, he states: “And that is why, for the security of America and the peace of the world, we are spreading the hope of freedom (…) In Afghanistan, America, our (…) NATO allies and 15 partner nations are helping the Afghan people defend their freedom and rebuild their country.”(“He makes no mention whatsoever that this was exactly what the USSR tried to do when it occupied the country with its powerful armed forces that ended up defeated in the clash with that country’s different customs, religion and culture, independent of the fact that the Soviets had not gone there to conquer raw materials for their great capital and that a socialist organization that never did any harm to the United States attempted to change the course of the nation in a revolutionary manner.”
(“There is a historical fact here: in the days of the Shah, Iran was the best armed power in the region. When the Revolution triumphed in that country, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini, the United States encouraged Iraq and provided support for the invasion. That was the beginning of a conflict which cost hundreds of billions and untold numbers of dead and maimed, and today is being justified as part of the cold war.”)

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