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I feel so incredibly blessed to live in a time where honoring young, single, teen mamas is FINALLY gaining recognition!

For as long as humans have existed, young mamas (and young families) have too.  Before colonization, many of us came from communities which honored communal living and supporting families of all sorts. As our communities were colonized and industrialization took afoot, these patterns of/for care were severed, and as a result, as the years went on, individuals who did not participate in what was/is considered efficient lifestyles were targeted as “problematic”.   Not surprisingly, this included young/single/teen/poor m/others (a word I use to represent the other-mother, these mamas).   m/others (single/teen/welfare mamas) began to be seen as “burdens”, and “threats” to industrial/ capitalist centered societies.  Instead of valuing the life-giving/life-sustaining resources  m/others bring to the table through their everyday action of “mama-ing”- our societies pathologized, criminalized and generally degraded our  m/otherhoods.  M/other’s are often targeted as “welfare-abusers”, and are blamed for “bad” children, or absent parents.  We undergo daily trauma manifesting in  loss of opportunity, judgment over our parenting, systemic and institutional oppression/exclusion, state-violence against our f/phamilies, the pathologizing & criminalizing of our choices to become parents, withdrawal of support (from systems and within our intimate relationships), and just generally degrading/negative messages in mainstream media, and everyday interactions. Choosing to be a young/teen/welfare m/other is often a hard choice, even if the choice to be pregnant is easy.  We often find ourselves judged, for “throwing our lives away”, or “choosing” to “make our lives harder”.   What’s been  even harder for me to witness and experience, is the exclusion of our m/otherhood as politicized work within social justice movements.

Despite all the negative messaging surrounds our m/otherhood, there are plenty of us that are living lives that counteract the myths of young families. We are working together to manifest new futures, full of hope, and collective transformation.  We are practicing our traditional healing tools within our families, communities, and societies to create stronger, more just worlds.  We are working (HARD) to participate in social justice movements.

As a teen/ welfare/ queer/ mama of color, my choice to become a mama at 16 was not an easy one.  To be honest, I was totally unprepared for what was to come.

In fact, I am still trying to get my bearings (and my daughter has just recently turned 18).   As I’ve grown up, so have my children.   They have become beautiful, vibrant, intelligent, compassionate young adults who are giving back to their communities.  No doubt the views of our communities and myself have helped to shape their  perspectives about the world, and their political analysis’.   They are the children of a radical woman of color, and though they are completely independent, they have been influenced as  I have become more and more politicized.   As I began organizing over their life span, they watched as  my organizing work often hit home, work that I did because it directly impacted me or my ph/family (chosen and blood family). Organizing for poor people’s rights, immigration & welfare reform, anti-police violence, youth-led movements, queer organizing, even topics like clean-water action & food justice, all had direct impact on me and my family.  At the end of the day, I couldn’t go back to the safety of my house, and hang up my organizing suit.  I had to face the one’s that mattered most, my children, and feel good about the work that I’d been doing.  I gave a lot of heart, soul, love to the work that I did as an organizer outside of my house but the work that mattered most to me always happened inside my home.  I always knew that the work I did inside the house, the valuable m/other work (which included curriculum building, valuable solidarity work, advocacy, and sisterhood building- just to name a tiny portion) was never considered politicized work.   The networks that I built with other m/others, the kitchen-table solidarity sessions, the late-night talks with teenagers (both my own children, and youth that I mentored), the healing work that only happens within our homes but allows us to continue in all the work that we do, those pieces that are so fragile, vulnerable and priceless, that work was  NEVER considered political.   After years of realizing this, living this, I started to feel like there was no space for m/other’s in the movement(s).    Admittedly, over the last few years, I began to notice some recognition of “mothering” within social justice work,  however, it mostly seemed to be predicated on the idea that “mother’s” had partners, or resources, or support- and for many m/other’s this was/is not the case.

Also within the last few years, I’ve been in more and more social justice spaces that are beginning to acknowledge the valuable work that m/other’s in movement(s) are doing.  Often times, this acknowledgment has come from other m/others, within private spaces but it has been enough to ensure that the valuable m/other work that movements are often supported by, if not altogether built on, begins to be visibilized.

For those of you that are organizer’s who want to make sure you are supporting m/other’s in your work here are some tangible, and simple ways that show us you are aware of our work, lives, and contributions to movement building- and some ways that can help make entering spaces more accessible.

If you are organizing National and local convenings (such as conference’s or workshops):

1. provide free (or sliding scale- with nobody turned away) childcare;

2. offering traveling stipends that cover both single mama’s travel AND their children; or

3. create  the invaluable space for m/other’s to meet and build with each other (just as they do with other any other marginalized identity group.

Conversely, we know when spaces are not recognizing, welcoming or honoring m/other’s because they 1. do not offer childcare, or expect m/other’s to arrange their own childcare (a possibility for many partnered parents but not for many single mamas), 2. cover only the cost of a m/other’s travel but not the cost of any single mama’s children (as was recently the case in during a National Reproductive Right’s conference), or; 3.  don’t acknowledge the political work of m/othering by downplaying our identities, the political aspect of our m/othering & by  not centering our lives as quintesential identities which require as much solidarity, space, and honor as any other identity, or movement building piece.

I am sharing all of this information with you today, because, as I said at the beginning of this article, I feel so honored to live in a time where the work and lives of young/single mamas is coming to the forefront of some of our movements.

Organizations, collectives , and individuals like: http://mamasofcolorrising.wordpress.com/about/http://www.poormagazine.org/ have been doing the valuable with mamas for mamas organizing work (many of them m/others too).

There’s also countless of individual m/other’s who have long been involved in movement building- both within their own families by raising their children- and publicly by blogging, zine-making, and creating forums for other creative, political organizing.  Some of these sister’s include long-time zinemaker and blogger- Hermana Resist!, and general bad-ass, community organizer and VivirLatino! blogger   Mamita Mala.  They are just two of the many m/other’s whose work (generally) exists without non-profit support, and who continue building radical movements while raising amazing young people.

However, despite the ongoing contributions that m/others make to creating more just worlds, we still need so much support to shift both mainstream America’s, and our own social justice movement’s  perspectives of our m/otherhood from detrimental and negative to courageous and politicized!

Yes, we are calling on our movements to acknowledge radical mama’s  everyday m/othering work as political work.  Raising our children is a political action!  We are working hard to participate in movement’s that often excludie us, and we wont allow this to happen anymore.  We affirm our m/otherhood’s as politicized, and we expect the same from you.  We say this out of love because we want to continue to grow, participate, and share with those of you who have never thought about m/otherhood this way, and who may be exploring these thoughts for the first time.

Over the last year, I’ve been traveling across the US with The New Mythos Project, building relationships with m/others and community caregivers that are invested in creating and participating in movements that are centered on well-being, spirituality, and connection.  The long, and multiple conversation’s I’ve had with people across the nation, have all centered on re-thinking how social justice movement’s are built & continue to exist. I’ve heard back from many m/others, myself included, that the current organizing model which most social justice movements use excludes our unique and important needs as single/teen/welfare mamas.

We are forming our own networks to begin to address how to build solidarity around our political in-home and out of home work… these networks are grounded in very real, relationship building.  We are our sister’s keepers! And, whenever possible, we are creating interactive healing spaces where mama’s can re-generate, and make themselves stronger.  Part of building this network is celebrating that our experiences make us different.  We don’t share the same experiences as the “idealized” mother, and that’s fine with us! We know that our experiences make us who we be, the strong, vibrant, vulnerable beings we are. So, it is my honor this year to breathe deep, and humbly share with you two action’s which visibilize the valuable work, and lives,  of m/others!!!

I can’t tell you how many years have gone by where Mother’s Day has passed, and I’ve looked around to see all the celebration directed towards mother’s who enjoy the privilege of parenting in a traditional two-parent, heteronormative household.   In checking out these events, please think about m/other’s that might live in your community!  How are they being celebrated this year?  How can you take a vow to stand in solidarity with them in the upcoming year?   If you are an organizer, are you making space and sharing resources so that m/other’s are present at the table in your organizing efforts? If you are organizing on efforts from food justice to media justice, are you taking lead from m/other’s?  Or, are you asking them to check their mama identities at the door in order to participate with you?I hope lots of you can make it out to either of these events (or the other’s that are happening nation wide), stand in solidarity with our sistaz!!!

Today, and everyday, I honor you m/othersisters. You are building a future I want to live in, and I am honored to see you shine.
xo.tk

1. Young Families Day Celebration!

This event will be Saturday, May 7, 2011 from 11am-3pm at Civic Center Hall in San Francisco, USA. (For more information on this event check out their FB event page)

The Center for Young Women’s Development , California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, and Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice are organizing this day of  resource sharing, networking , changing stereotypes, kids activities, free food,  and celebrating what makes our YOUNG families strong!!!!

They are also working on a Strong Families initiative which honors all families: Check out their awesome new video Honoring Young Mamas!

2. Mother’s Day Liberation Rally and Community Supper 2011

Saturday May 7th 3pm through Sunday May 8th 7pm : Woodland Park & Rhizome Cafe, Vancouver BC, Unceded and Occupied Coast Salish Territories.

(For more information on this event, and this groups work check out their FB Event Page)

The Mother’s Day Liberation Rally & Community Supper 2011 is organized by the Committee for Single Mothers on the Move, which is led by a group of low-income single mothers of colour, the Breakthrough Mamas, and our allies, including Vancouver Status of Women, No One is Illegal-Vancouver, the Philippine Women’s Centre and the Transformative Communities Project Society.

We struggle from many places of resilience and urgency against the perverse conditions of systemic impoverishment, exploitation, violence and isolation imposed by a hetero-patriarchal, colonial, racist and capitalist society. We celebrate the passion, creativity, survival and power of people who mother under oppressive conditions to (re)make a world where love is more possible.

We demand RESPECT, COMMUNITY AND DIGNITY for all low-income mothers and children, and have identified the following top priorities for political struggle – with increased access, participation, and influence by low-income mothers and children:

HOUSING
HEALTH
LIVING WAGES
TRANSPORTATION
CHILDCARE
STATUS
LEGAL SUPPORT
EDUCATION
CULTURAL INTEGRITY
FREEDOM FROM VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
END TO CHILD APPREHENSIONS
SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE SELF-DETERMINATION
GENDER LIBERATION

This Mother’s Day weekend, we call on all people who desire liberating and just conditions of mothering to join us for a day of celebration, inspiration, community-building and resistance!

I’m feeling so re-invigorated from meeting, witnessing, and building with all the remarkable peoples on this Make/Shift recLAmation tour!  Talk about a crew of kick-ass truth-telling healing spirits! We are talking about building stronger selves/ healing from our trauma/ making stronger movements/ finding new pathways to creating the worlds we want to live in/ single mama solidarity/ overcoming violence/ and visioning our collective transformation – just to name a few!!!

Check the photos from our first reading @ Echo Park Film Center here on my fb page here on my fb!!!

After our reading last night, I am feeling SOOOO inspired by all the phenomenal people that I got to share time with. SINGLE MAMA SOLIDARITY IS ALIVE AND KICKIN’!!!! No more standing by the sidelines and watching single/teen/welfare mamaz get demonized, criminalized, pathologized and problematized- by both mainstream society AND social justice movements. Across the nation sistaz (and phamilies!) are making big moves.. stay tuned for more info and actions! (clearly, I’m excited!)

This work is SO in-line with the work of the New Mythos – which centers on valuing m/others and community caregivers and their lived experiences, holistic wellness, spirituality and creativity.  It’s so important for us to be building solidarity and LIVING the worlds that we want to see happen!

In other news: I LOVE L.A.  – there are such phenomenal QUEER people holdin’ it down here, from media projects that put media into the hands of young people and elders to make their own sexual education media projects (imMEDIAte justice)  to Sex Educators (cucci) that will come to your house to support your own learning processes to the magic house that I’ve been staying at where queer doula-ing (Chula Doula- Pati Garcia)/ beautiful architecture and art is ALIVE, to the work of the Echo Park Film Center (a coop where you can learn to make media/ rent movies & equipment and watch some independent, grassroots cinema!)- there is TONS to see, learn from and grow with here.

What a lucky mama I am to be able to be here, right now, perfectly. <3

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Creating Transformation.

“The struggle is inner: Chicano, indio, American Indian, mojado, mexicano, immigrant Latino, Anglo in power, working class Anglo, Black, Asian… The struggle has always been inner, and is played out in outer terrains. Awareness of our situation must come before inner changes, which in turn come before changes in society…”Gloria E. Anzaldúa

How do we create collective transformation?

It seems like mama Gloria and other radical people of color have been asking us to address that question for centuries. Don’t worry,  their questions haven’t come without wisdom too!   As I learn more and more about history, and  clear space to honor traditional knowledge, I see more and more vividly that the blue print is clear.    An integral part of creating collective transformation is based on our healing ourselves first.    As I my own process of healing,  it seems like every day I connect with more and more people who are awakening to, accepting and affirming our elders messages.   Around the world, Community Caregivers and M/others  are articulating self-care, community healing, and personal transformation as political work for themselves too.

Unfortunately,  it seems like the value placed in caring for ourselves, continues to be de-politicized.  I often see sistaz (and brothaz) who are over-extended, exhausted, and almost burnt out participating in the very movements that are supposed to be grounded in a social justice agenda.  I’ve been there, and as step towards healing myself I have begun to re-evaluate where I put my own time and energy. Can it be possible to create healthy movements on the backs of peoplez who aren’t able to embody healthiness themselves? We know what we’ve sacrificed: our health, our momentum, our presence, our joyousness and even our lives when we’ve chosen NOT to politicize and prioritize our personal self-care but why?

What’s at stake when we prioritize our personal transformation?

To be honest the fact that this shows up in our social justice movements is not surprising.  After all, devaluing the need for self-care (particularly when it comes to the brown body) is something grounded in colonialist methodology, handed down for centuries, and, is also necessary to supporting our current capitalistic system.   On top of that,  because of our own internalized messages you know, the ones that have grown in our collective consciousness as a result of the previously stated colonialist/neo-colonialist/capitalistic practices it can feel really selfish to honor self-care, and create spaces for transformation within our own lives.   It can feel like we are putting a lot at stake when we *finally* decide that transforming ourselves IS the political work that we are committing too.

On top of the notion that self-care is not political work, many of us are faced with the reality that colonialism (and neo-colonialism) severed/s our relationship to our own healing and transformative practices, as well as our connections to traditional knowledge grounded in our cultural heritage.    Which just means that once we’ve made up our mind to commit ourselves TO ourselves we have to put in overtime to find the tools to manifest our magical transformations!

One other piece that can also feel difficult,  is the absence of  social justice analysis that is often found in “healing” communities.  It can often feel like within “healing” communities there is no connection, or acknowledgement of the inequity & oppression that we are combating in our social justice work .  Often, it can seem like “healing” work is not connected to creating justice- which seems pretty ironic.

How can we work together to transform the culture of organizing, and movement building, to recognize/prioritize and politicize the work of collective transformation grounded in self-care?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I see more and more social justice seekers, and specifically m/others and community caregivers, prioritizing & politicizing this work!   Witnessing this is exciting and inspirational! It seems like we are learning the lessons that radical women of color (including the amazing mama Gloria) have been trying to tell us for centuries, and, it seems like we are moving forward with our arms open into our own spiritual callings.

This year, in an effort to create space for dialogue and discussion about the everyday practices and  political work of self-care and transformation The New Mythos Blog is  beginning a Transformative Tuesday’s series, on the first Tuesday of every month.  Each month we’ll explore a new topic!  This is an opportunity for us each to share transformative practices, healing rituals, questions/suggestions/and thoughts about ways we can work to transform ourselves- because as we each transform ourselves we transform the world!

Some of the topics that we’ll explore include:

  • What does it mean to take the bold step to look within for our own answers when we are faced with the reality of inequity within our own lives ?
  • What does transformation look like and how does it relate to our social justice movements?
  • How can we learn to prioritize healing ourselves when we’ve been told for centuries that we are worth nothing?
  • Who are the elders we turn to offer guidance, practices, wisdom, transformative traditions and mentorship?
  • And, how can we incorporate personal transformation as a foundational piece towards creating collective transformation?

I’ll be looking for folks who are engaged in this work and want to share their practices/guidance/knowledge and suggestions with us.  This includes community healers/ practitioners/ m/others/ community caregivers and everyday folks who are engaged in the pivotal work of transforming and healing ourselves.  So, if that’s you please hit me up and let’s set up some time to talk! Also- each month we’ll introduce a new question or topic to discuss.

Let’s get this month started with this question: what are the transformative practices that you use to heal yourself, to care for yourself and to help keep you grounded?

For me? Here’s two:

After years of resistance, I’ve begun a relationship with sitting in silence.  I try to create space everyday to clear my mind and release all the thoughts that I carry with me.  I practice breathing deeply and when I observe thoughts entering my head I acknowledge them and release them.  It can be harder some days than others but I find that when I work at it daily I am able to walk with greater compassion, love and integrity.

The other practice I engage with almost daily is truth-telling through creative expression. Sometimes this takes the form of visual art-making, and sometimes it is writing/blogging, dance party in my room,  or just allowing myself to spend time visualizing.  I LOVE nothing more than allowing myself the space to tap into my creative juices and just let myself FLOW.  I find it really healing to let myself explore and PLAY with different mediums.  Sometimes, it feels like I have to give myself permission to play but when I don’t do that I end up REALLY feeling it… like I’m storing up all the important, vital, truth-filled pieces of me.  I hope that all of you give yourself this time too!

What about YOU?  I look forward to hearing and growing with all of you.

In love & solidarity!

tk


Last year, I took a tour from Massachusetts to New Mexico and back.  I got an opportunity to meet some fantabulous, ferocious, phenomenal and FUN(NY) sistaz that kept me on my toes, laughing, rejoicing and re/membering that we are ALL working to create these beautiful places we call HOME in innovative, exciting and righteous ways!

When I returned back to my home I went right back into my own role as full-time single-mama, collective worker-owner of an independent bookstore, artist and community organizer.  Even with my best intentions to blog/create/respond and write about all that I learned on the first ever New Mythos Tour, I just didn’t have the time.  Fast forward to today –January- a brand new year and decade!  So many things have happened over these last few months and I know that this tour is a HUGE part of my own small journey. Despite the fact that I didn’t feel like I had the time to catch up on this valuable journey over the last few month, I am writing to share that this year, I am MAKING the time.  I am prioritizing this work, I am opening the door to understanding and honoring all I have to learn from the New Mythos Project and all the beautiful relationships, lessons, wisdoms and connections that I’ve made during this project, and over the last few years.

Some major lessons I’ve already begun to understand is that New Mythos is about;

  • Counter-acting capitalism/ patriarchy and colonialism by making space to actualize support that is based on interdependence, not individualism;
  • Uniting with other creative, spirit-filled sistaz who are committed to liberation, and who use radical, transformative tools in their everyday lives <3;
  • Finding ourselves, and each other, through telling our truth(s), convening, restoring, loving, living-out-loud, re/membering our strength & resilience, and sharing our vulnerabilities; and above all,
  • It’s about M/others and Sistaz investing energy, time, love, innovation, and patience everyday to create cultural shifts within our communities by BEING the BEINGS we know we are meant to be through prioritizing the political work of taking care of ourselves- because we’re valuable, because we deserve to be taken care of, and because we are the only ones who know what we need!

I’m looking forward to spending more time unpacking, unraveling and reflecting on what the New Mythos Tour was about, and sharing with you all what the future of the New Mythos Project is.

With love, gratitude and eternal blessings!

-tk

Peace everyone.

I am just returning from Detroit and the fabulous workshops that I had the pleasure of organizing and participating in.  I have SO much to share with folks and am trying to take some time to write everything up.  One thing I’m really excited about is this video that was made as a collaborative media making project, informed by The New Mythos Tour, To tell you the Truth work,  the M/others, Mamaz y Community Caregivers Unite Through Truth-telling (AMC 2010) and the Revolutionary M/others session (USSF 2010) this project is a work in progress, an articulation of what mamaz bring to the table and a reminder of some of what we need to manifest the intergenerational, justice-filled, self-determined movements we envision and are manifesting!

Check it out y’all! And stay tuned for more updates about Detroit and next steps! <3

Yay!

I’m SOOOOO excited to share that I will be sharing info about The New Mythos Tour  and To tell you the Truth/Permission Perfom at two workshops during the Allied Media Conference.

Check out the descriptions below <3 !

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M/others, Mamaz and Community Care-Givers Unite Through Truth-Telling!

Presenters: Gia Hamilton, Gris Gris Lab; WelfareQUEENS;
Rachel Caballero, La Semilla Childcare Collective; China Martens;
Future Generation & Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind; Kidz Space;
Katina Parker, New Orleans Labor of Love; Maegan “la Mamita Mala” Ortiz, Vivir Latino/Dos Mujeres Media

Facilitator: tk karakashian tunchez, To tell You the Truth/New Mythos Project
TRACK:
INCITE! / To Tell You the Truth
M/others (self-identified single, teen and welfare mamaz), mamaz and community caregivers around the country are telling their truths through zines, blogs, printed media, performance work etc, and using this process of truth-telling to create stronger selves, families and communities. In this 3-part, interactive workshop, we will share practical skills and organizing models, then strategize on how we can support each other year-round through a national network of mamaz and community caregivers. Come share your questions and your knowledge with us!

This session will take place in three one hour parts. Part one is a knowledge fair, showcasing the many incredible projects in the room. Part two is a skill share, giving you a chance to learn some specific truth-telling and organizing techniques, including: zine-making, social media, on-the-go-video-how-to, blogging 101, and building a radical childcare collective. Part three is a strategy session for all us m/other, mamaz & community cargegivers in the room to think, dream, strategize, and envision specific ways we can work together over the next year. We will explore questions like; What do we bring to the tables as mamaz? What support do we need? How can we fortify our national community and our families? How can alternative media-making further our movements and transformations?

This session prioritizes the participation of mothers and community care-givers of color, but is open to all.

Twitter hashtag:
mamaz

None

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Health is Dignity and Dignity is Resistance: Online and Offline Organizing for Healing Justice

Presenters: CureThis.org, the Rockdove Collective, Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collaborative, JAZZ for Health/Casa de Salud, To Tell You the Truth, and the Community Acupuncture Network.
“Health is dignity and dignity is resistance”: this quote by a healer
in Chiapas, Mexico, reveals the joined struggles of organizing,
health, liberation, and healing. In the U.S., communities are
strengthening existing health justice movements and creating new models
of sustainable healing, healthcare, and collective liberation – both
online and offline. Presenters will share healing justice models–of
varying scales–with the goal of 1) stimulating discussion around
innovative healing and health/care practices in communities around the
country; 2) inspiring participants to share stories and visions of
organizing around healing justice; and 3) fostering strategies to
strengthen participatory online infrastructures to support offline
models.

(you can click on each of the  photos below to see larger images. check them out if you get a chance.  i’ll be posting a video soon.)

El Paso was hard for me. I drove the “border highway” with my host Rachel and we talked about what it means to live life on the the border. For me, my border identity has been composed of my own mestisaje/mayan/queer/femme/immigrant/norteamericana/adopted/transracial/transnational/welfaremama/academic selves. And yet, with all those borders in mind, I have never had the experience of literally, physically, living on the border. Rachel had. She shared with me some of her experience of being a teen in El Paso. How the undocumented workers, who moved back and forth over the border for so many years, impacted her communities economy and how her community relied on their work. She shared with me the direct impact that NAFTA had on her community and on the 10 % of its citizens, an estimated 30,000(mostly single mama head of households), that almost immediately lost their garment industry jobs, when it was put into place in 1994. Take a look at this interesting article about some of NAFTA’\s effects.

During our drive we talked about the newly constructed/upgraded wall that ran the course of the border now. We talked about how the militarization of the border was part of border life and about how many families were impacted by the increasing barriers & attacks on immigrants.

As an immigrant kid, a transnational/transracial adoptee who spent 8 years in my homeland Guatemala before moving to the U.S., my adoptive family and I would travel across the Mexico border frequently, with, as you can imagine, not so much difficulty. It hurt my heart to see the new 100/150 ft. fences up and know that communities who relied on being able to cross, and who had been giving their labor to the U.S. for so long now, were facing the new obstacles of trying to find adequate housing, employment and other necessities because of these walls. Their labor expendable and their identities exploitable, we have waged war on individuals instead of the systems and corporations that continue to dehumanize entire communities. Only now, we call it a war on terrorism and justify this as a means to keep us/US safe, when for years we relied on this form of labor and, honestly, we still do.

The idea of “living on the border” got real, real for me on this visit.  As I mentioned, I have my own internalized and lived experience of what it means to me to live on the border, my identity split between a home I haven’t returned to, a language I can only speak brokenly, a family and people’s I only vaguely remember and the constant reminder of what “other” feels like in the home-away-from-home that I currently live in. But, in reality, I DO NOT live on the actual border US/Mexico border and so I don’t have to witness the real, literal, material, man-made border-walls that separate communities, families, individuals and cultures every day.  It made me ill to see these man made structures, meant to enforce fictionalized realities of what/ who belongs where.  These walls are the same walls that are used to rationalize hate-legislation like Arizona’s new SB1070 and are man made walls that prevent first nation and indigenous people’s from being able to travel the lands that our people knew far before other groups of “immigrants” lay “ownership” over them.

Despite my emotional reaction to the borders, Rachel was an amazing host.  We discussed how important Gloria Anzaldua’s work was to us both, giving language to our experiences as border dwellers, in our own varying ways.

We visited La Mujer Obrera/Mercado Mayapan, an amazing space.  Here’s a description from their website: Mercado Mayapán is a unique community-operated festival marketplace and community empowerment center. This beautifully renovated 40,000 square foot warehouse in South-Central El Paso houses a wide range of businesses and community services, and serves as a cultural center and events venue for the neighborhood and all of El Paso.

I was completely floored by how beautiful the space was, by the Chicano Power Exhibit they had up and the Museo Mayachen. All of these were inspiring reminders of how important our histories are. How beautiful it is to build resistance through remembering! In these cases, these archives (and the entire space itself) spoke to the resistance of migrants workers, chicanos and the hispanic/latino community of El Paso. How diverse and powerful this community has been!

Since, as many of you know, I have been traveling and asking what a radical platform/ agenda looks like, I felt inspired by these histories/archives to begin to explore what (and possibly archive) what  intersectional radical his/herstories  look like. What can we remember about our collective pasts? How can we build stronger, healthier and more encompassing radical movements based on what we’ve experienced? How can we heal from some of the hurts that we’ve experienced as radical peoples? AND, how do we talk about the ways we’ve hurt ourselves… even alienating folks from stringent, single-issued radical movements?

SOOO many questions. I want to hear what y’all have to say about these questions: Please send me comments here or emails to truthandhealingproject@gmail.com.

Lastly, but by far not leastly, I wanted to share some of the work that Rachel has been working on in Austin (where she had been living for the last 8 or so years). In addition to doing work as a media activist Rachel was one of the members of La Semilla Childcare Collective, which provides free childcare to support radical mamaz and community caretakers. La Semilla Childcare Collective began in November of 2008, and was born from the need for childcare that Mamas of Color Rising expressed to the radical community. La Semilla is Austin’s only childcare collective provide childcare solidarity for radical community members of color.

While having created a close family with Mamas of Color, they are now providing childcare solidarity for other groups in Austin including Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition and Worker’s Defense Project. They are currently planning on attending USSF/AMC this summer and currently connecting and organizing nationally with other childcare collectives! They are really grounding their work in anti-oppression methodology and thinking about how to create a movement that includes children as important members! For more info you can contact them at:

childcareatx@riseup.net

here’s a real quick video for your viewing enjoyment! looking forward to sharing more about this visit with you soon!

Black feminism IS alive in Durham.  I was so blessed to have Durham be my second official stop! Check out the video below of Doctor Alexis Pauline Gumbs as she takes me on a tour of the Pauli Murray murals (she sits on the board of The Pauli Murray Project)  and talks to me a little about the economic history of Durham.  I learned so much from her and was totally excited about the ways that Durham community members have been working to support each other through creating community livingroom learning spaces, supporting intergenerational community fortifyingphamily practices and figuring out ways to really, tangibly support each other by fundraising and investing  in local alternative economies.  On one of the Pauli Murray murals someone wrote “Can you be part of my community if  I’ve never met you? I hope so”.  I guess that sorta sums up how I feel about Durham. It’s such a sweet phenomenal community that I am so inspired by, even tho, I still have SO many people to meet there and so many stories to hear.

In addition to all of that, Lex was an awesome host and really reminded me of how wonderful it is to invest in a relationship with our ancestors and commit ourselves to really, deeply listening to their guidance. We have such wonderful resources available to us through the voices of the powerful, wise, beautiful and visionary elders that have come before us.   We also talked about what it takes to build community; the trust and values that you need to commit yourself to and everyday ways that we can really, solidly support ourselves by building structures for accountability into our lives, phamilies, communities and other practices.  You can check out some of lex’s work at brokenbeautiful press.

Are you in or around Durham?  Lex and her phenomenal radical mamaz and community caregivers will be hosting a dialogue session in April! Hit me up here if you want to participate or for more info, I’m looking forward to learning more from you <3

I make a quick stop to visit China Martens in Baltimore.   China wrote some of the first mamazines that I ever read, (and recently released The Future Generation- a compilation through Microcosm Publishers), so, needless to say,  this visit meant a lot to me.  In true fiercemamafashion China welcomed me into her home and showered me with love and solidarity. She really WANTED to support me and was eager to talk about what it means to support mamaz and to build stronger selves.  She shared her thoughts about who inspired and supported her and  we talked about what it means to dedicate yourself to movement building that includes caring for yourself.  She is currently committing herself to working on a local level within her community and, to this effect,  she  is involved with birthing radical methods for community caretaking, through contributing to creating a collective for radical childcare.   From their blog;

“We are dedicated to advocating for parents and children in the radical community. Too often, we find that parents and children are driven out of radical spaces, because they’re “loud,” because they’re “annoying,” and because people “just hate kids.” We say, “SCREW THAT!” In a world based on anarchist principles of mutual aid, sharing, caring and support, no one should be pushed out because they have children, especially because it is parents (and often mothers) who are in need of support by the community.”
In the few short hours I spent in Baltimore, we talked about Baltimore, poverty and ways that poverty-related issues impact all members of its community.  We talked about ways that mamaz have always been such huge contributors to radical movements and have frequently been overlooked or had their needs ignored.  We talked about working from a place of vision instead of reaction and we talked about the capacity that mamaz have to be such strong movement builders because they have to act and hold space for vision in their own lives so often.  I was SO inspired by the ways that China, and her community, had chosen to address root issues of poverty and inequity within their community by building radical solidarity and forming a solution that took into consideration the needs of all members of its community in through its agenda.  I also loved that so much of this work is grounded in creativity and intentional inter-generational exchange!  I’m excited to return and learn more about their work and lives.

So, go head Baltimore, you rock! Are you committed to radical lives in Baltimore or the surrounding areas? I’d love to learn more from you too. There will be an upcoming dialogue hosted by China Martens during April.  Please contact us here if you’d like to be involved!

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