zapatista women meet the women of the world

January 2, 2008 at 2:24 am (anti-oppression, anti-sexism, chiapas, dance, Motherhood, Uncategorized, women of color)

zapatista women meet the women of the world.

so we went to the third encuentro of the zapatistas. and the first one focused on women. it was in la garrucha which is a really long way like five hours from san cristobal. there for three days and it was an incredibly intense experience especially with our little daughter…tere.

left san cristobal in a combi..shared van and arrived a couple of hours later in ocosingo. from ocosingo aza and i hopped on the back of a truck with a bunch of kids from san fran state mainly chicanos and asianos. and we rode on the back of a pick up truck for 2-3 hours to la garrucha. it was a little chilly but lucky i had a friends windbreaker and aza giggled and ate cookies and breastfed and flirted. it felt like we just rode deeper into the selva–jungle and more and more stars appeared until i couldnt even see the simple common constellations like orion and cassiopea because of the utter magnitude and quantity of stars in the sky.

la garrucha is a zapatista caracol. one of five or six. and this was the site of the latest encuentro in memory of comandante ramona.

a small note of comandante ramona: a friend, xmal, told me that ramona was a woman to be looked up to because she had been in the army and that was the way that she advanced herself in the communities and in the movement even though she was a woman. and so being a comandante part of the army or part of the good government are new pathways for zapatista women to gain respect in the community. for this reason she is held in such esteem by the zap women.

we arrived in la garrucha, me probably looking a little disheveled and were taken to a corner of a room where we could lay our things down.


ah the mexican polka…mexicans and especially rancheros love to polka. and so they did. until 330 am. hundreds of people polkaing outside under the stars. the bass of the polka vibrated against the walls of our room.

the polka was sort of the connecting theme of the weekend. they play the polka when the zap women file in and file out of the tent auditorium. they play the polka in between the sessions. they play the polka.

the scene:

now it is interesting as to who comes to a zap encuentro. there are the hippies. hipsters. and the punks. the indigenous families from various caracoles. of course the masked women and men from the caracoles. there was a delegation from casa atbex ache of women of color. there were activistas internationales. the are old commies. and lots of kids from san cris. a couple of other delegations of chicanos. college kids. and of course us.


i come from a womanist perspective and so while i doubt that zap women call themselves (maybe they do..) womanist i am viewing them as women of color as they share a similar history as we do –not simply as shared suffering of colonization (fuck colonization) (use fuck in the term of ‘confront’) and rupture but also that we are going through similar processes of reclamation healing the rupture of colonization and bad governments. osea that we can learn from one another how to create a post colonial community of centering justice and love. since we are both post colonial subjects women building something old something new something borrowed and a little something from a blues people.


doing it with a 8 month old was a little crazy and intense.  but there are these little helping invisible hands everywhere and if i was to properly thank everyone i would nt know how to begin.  it was really cool to hang out with other mamas mexican indigenous and international.  everytime i meet traveling moms and their kids it makes me feel a little saner about the choices we have made.  there was an italian woman with her 2 year old who sold jewelry and handcrafts.  she had frizzy hair skinny legs and a great italian accent while speaking spanish.  italian speaking spanish sounds great just great.  like sweet ice cream on a hot cloudless day.  there was a nyorker , tere, and her three year old.  frizzy hair skinny legs and that ny spanish that pops the syllables even if you arent chewing gum.

but breastfeeding was a sight to behold obviously…or me breastfeeding was a sight to behold…and so men would stand around me watching me breastfeed outside.  and yes everyone i tell this to says oh well, that doesnt make any sense since indigenous men are used to seeing their women breast feed.  and okay indigenous men may be used to seeing breastfeeding and they dont circle around their women during the process.  but i started to feel like some museum piece.  look at the black woman breastfeeding the (obviously) biracial baby…

but as piece de exotique as i felt, i had nothing on the trans woman in the room

the trans woman in the room:

so we were bunkered down in the room with another family and friends group of like 5 and a couple even more interesting than the black woman and the white man and the biracial baby.  yes…this couple was trans woman and her lover, a red haired humpbacked witch.  the first night the couple slept in the shared room with the rest of us pitched out on the floor.  the second night the moved into the backroom with a bed and privacy.  the third night the family and friends group told us that we should take the bed because we have a baby. how sweet of them to think of us.  except that they kicked the trans woman out of her bed and then gave it to us.  they gave orders.  and the couple moved their suitcases out of the room in tears and curses.  saying that the  other people staying in the room (and i am not sure if that includes us) had been making fun of her.  and then they took away her bed.  she refused to return to the room and slept in a tent and i slept in her bed that had been offered.

those signs:

there were these signs that hung all over the encampamiento:  men cannot participate in speaking, translating, directing the encuentro.  they can clean and sweep the latrines, take care of the children, and carry firewood…

the latrines were not really that clean.  i only saw a few men taking care of the children.  and there were alot of men.  i think there were more men than women at the encuentro.  and it was a zap women meet the women of the world…

and there was a speaking tent set up, ie the auditorium, where only women were supposed to be.  but there were plenty of men (esp international men) under the tent.

what i learned about zapatismo zapatistas:

not alot.  it was great being in a caracol for a couple of days.  getting a better visceral sense of what caracol is.  hearing the women tell their personal testimonies for hours and days was interesting at first but the tent was crowded and stuffy and woman after woman told the similar stories of where they saw themselves in relation to history and the world.  in other words:  that the zapatista struggle transformed their lives profoundly in that they no longer need to rely on plantation owners to survive.  instead had greater autonomy and decision making power.

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post due date maverick

April 6, 2007 at 3:03 am (anti-oppression, dance, Motherhood)

so today is thursday.  my due date was on march 31st.  back on early tuesday morn, cal and i were up talking when he saw and i saw the in utero baby moving like crazy. it didnt hurt but there were these bulges coming out of my belly.  that afternoon the midwife came by and while checking the fetal heartbeat and fetal positioning discovered that the baby was breech.  i sat there for a few minutes stunned as she spoke about getting an appointment with a doctor who does external versions, ie he moves the baby around in the belly by hand.

breech is when the baby’s head is at the top of the uterus.  most babies are born with their head at the bottom of the uterus.  the head comes out of the mama’s body first.  it is alot harder to give birth to a breech baby.  (this is the basic info)

after the first thirty minutes after midwife had told me the baby was breech.  i felt relatively calm about it.  i figured if the baby could turn one way the night before then the baby could turn back.  my midwife didnt understand what had happened.  was the baby always breech?  how could the baby turn in a single night?  how could she have not felt the breech before?

but you kinda have to admire a person who does something just to see if she can.  you kinda have to admire someone who flips around flexible strong independent with a great sense of humour.  this is no clinging vine.  and yet someone who knows how to get attention.  all of the pressure i felt to give birth.  the need for my birth to be convenient to others slipped out of my hands.  tue night the objective was not to go into labor.  what a relief.

i continued feeling calm all night.  i felt like i should be worried but i wasnt.  i barely told anyone about the breech.  i didnt need their worries, their desire to be concerned, their need to make this into a potential tragedy working on my good mood.  it snowed that tuesday night.  i was amazed by a kid who could flip and flip a maverick a trickster an entertainer.

that tuesday night i contacted dorothy and asked her to do body talk for me long distance.  during the session i felt such a strong sense of the aries child personality.  a challenging red.  a ram.  locked horns.  climbing to the top of the tree.  making bets to see who could run faster.  difficult takes a day impossible takes a week.  earthy.  soft voice.  a dancer a lover of nature methodical stubborn beloved.

i could feel the kid flipping all night.  i could see bulges start and stop.  i did the head numbing exercises off the futon which made me look like i was going to do my own flips and turns.  and i told myself as i looked at my husband and friend that their worries were their issues i had the goods.  it was snowing in april. the moon was in libra.  sun was in aries.  hell this was a night for miracles.

the next day we went to see the doctor.  the midwife looked locked into herself.  i dont think she likes doctors either.  doctor arrived explained the problem with breech babies.  i laid down on the plastic bed.  felt the skin and muscles of the belly and pelvis and said that he felt the baby’s head down in the pelvis.  we went to next room.  cold jelly on the belly.  visual ultrasound (i have had the audio ones to hear the heart beat) and boom!  the head is in the pelvis.  the butt is at the top of the belly.  the baby is the hanged man.

the midwife looked shocked.

i could tell this morning as i was walking to the bathroom that the baby had turned and settled.  it made getting to the doctor’s easier.  i felt like it was my lil secret.  maybe a secret that i was only 80 percent sure it was true but a secret nevertheless.

this birth is out of my hands.  or better said it is a cooperative effort and the baby has a will a strong will.  a sometimes in life she will lead.  and i will follow.  and if she wants to do flips in the belly or in the world.  i cant stop her.

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drop in bucket

September 8, 2006 at 1:21 am (Blogroll, dance, lebanon, palestine, poetry, west bank)

a few nights ago we went to a great party in the old city of bethlehem. it was one of those rare moments when i dont remember talking politics or reading politics or watching news. we danced to hiphop and salsa and arabic pop, spoke in french english and arabic drank cocktails and laughed until we were exhausted and climbed our way back home.
people write me asking me if i am okay. yes. better than okay. all i can say is dont believe the media the news the hype. i know most of you know this already but it still leaves you in a quandry…what should you believe in? what is left when so much of the world is a mirage?
i wrote this morning: believe drop in bucket
worth something
dry overpopulated lands
swing in sky
more in harmony
with light reflecting cherry cigarette it wont matter on time
cuz off time cut space
blues never sounded
but sweet
to hard lives in red hatchback
dusty road
miraged oblivion believe drop in bucket
worth something dancing salsa in palestine
bombs fall on edges centers
exist cuz cartographers
got knives 50 thousand people die everyday
no one holds gun to they heads
they just die
fall into dirty water
retrovirus retroviolation
franken-tree plantation
they get automatic ticket to heaven dancing salsa important in revolution
in wild trees and wild hair sweet tears
yes dialoguing bodies
goddess give rite of the soul drop in bucket worth something star pistols over stone village in south
palestine earth still give birth
1000 me-activists dont understand
with 1000 manifestos fuming in hand
1000 me-poets refusing comprehend
that rhythm of water matters
drop in bucket
wave in ocean
motion of hips
when music hits
when feet hit dry land believe in yes in bliss
even if we all dead
dont believe ruling fewdrop in bucket
cool cats in muslim
territory holding hands
most of you have question limitless
unless you are among
walking dead
to you i am so distant
like noon on another planet
just blowing the astro sand

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