_____Anahuac Women Fight___________ESSAY
Video Presentation filmed Saturday,
January 30th 2010,
Centro Cultural de Mexico, Santa Ana, CA
Women of Anahuac:
PART 1 of 2
Citlalli Citlalmina Anahuac
Edited by Olin Tezcatlipoca and Arlene Valdez-Pinedo,
Colonialism did not end with the Independence of Mexico, or the separate independence of the individual Central American states, and it definitively did not end for our people in the reservations here in the “United States.”
Colonialism is an everyday reality for our people. We are the Indigenous people of this continent, commonly known as Mexican, Central American, and Native American. To acknowledge our common experience and common necessity of liberation, we will use the term Nican Tlaca to refer to those of us who are of Mexican, Central American, and Native American descent.
When we speak as Indigenous women, Nican Tlaca women, we are speaking as women who have endured genocide, terrorism, cultural rape, and the theft of our lands. We do not belong to a generic woman experience. We do not share most of the white woman’s experience. We as a people, have had our lands stolen for over 500 years. Our culture was systematically butchered, and our identity was left in ruins. Because of all of this we are confused about our identity. We have been taught to completely disconnect ourselves from our Indigenous identity and heritage. It is presented to us as backwards and uncivilized. As Nican Tlaca women, we are specifically recruited to join philosophies and ideologies, that try to universalize the woman experience. We are offered feminism as a solution to end our oppression. But this concept is far too limiting and far too gender-focused-far too Eurocentric to be able to address the complete colonized condition that we are in as a people. There is no doubt that there is sexism. There is no doubt that women are suffering in very specific ways connected to the fact that we are women, but there is also the fact of the ongoing colonialism that allows for such a brutal acceptance of this destruction of our humanity. Our men, are also given solutions. They are given capitalism, gang culture, violence, and a white man’s ego to calm their insecurities. It is time to view these concepts with a more critical lens; we need a real solution that acknowledges our ongoing colonial reality.
There is no question that the fight for truth, justice, and equality and should be a struggle that all of our people take on. Feminism in its purest sense is a great concept that has touched the lives of so many women. It's a beautiful idea. Feminism is a beautiful philosophy in its demand for justice and equality for women. Feminism calls for equality between men and women. Feminism is a beautiful concept that can be the priority in your life if your people are not a colonized people; if your land is not stolen; if your people did not suffer from a genocide of 95% of it's population; if you are a woman of European descent (because it is more likely that you have not been colonized); if you were not poor. If you did not suffer from the destruction of your culture and heritage; if you had a clear sense of identity and you know exactly what your heritage and history is. If all of the things mentioned above were not an issue for you, feminism works rather well for you.
When speaking of issues regarding our equality as Nican Tlaca women and men, it is safe to declare that our equality as human beings has been denied for the past 500 years. Our culture has been and continues to be systematically belittled and ignored. Our heritage is constantly questioned as to if it contains any validity as to exist in independence. Culturally, we are seen as eternal children in state of ineffective rebellion. Our biggest problem is the ongoing colonization of our people that exists within the white supremacist world view. The colonization of our people is what indoctrinates our people into a vortex of self-hate and lies. White Supremacy is the script of colonialism that continues to reign over our political, social, and economic relationships while we live in this colonial state of perpetual occupation and genocide.
What is white supremacy? In a workshop offered to help end white supremacy, it is defined as follows:
“White supremacy is an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of establishing, maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege. “
Workshop offered by Mickey Ellinger and Sharon Martinas.
The problems that we face as a people today are the result of being under European terrorism and cultural assault, not just white male sexism. The colonial experience has transformed us from being proud Nican Tlaca people, a people of this continent, where we feel as if we are trespassers on our own lands. We feel have no rights to our full culture and heritage and that we have no right to be free from Europeans. We have gone from one of the most educated people in the world to one of the most ignorant and least educated colonized people. Within this experience of being a colonized people we are offered false solutions to our colonial condition. We attempt to solve our problems like Europeans because we equate their experience and oppression with ours, without knowing that their historical place is a colonizing one. They fight for justice as a free people. Speaking their language, loving their culture, loving themselves, as a free people. Not us. We are ignorant of the very fact that we are suffering from more than 500 years of a disease called Colonialism. Europeans address problems as colonizers not colonized. In a realistic and courageous conversation for the total decolonization of the mind and land of the Nican Tlaca people, we must address all factors and search for all possible ways of making sure that our liberation is a profound, complete, and permanent reality. We have to be aware of all the colonial reactionary mentalities that cripple our vision for a complete liberation. On this path towards liberation there will be many distractions that tempt us to fight for quick and meager results, instead of solid and permanent liberation.
Years back I was invited to read one of the best articles that I have seen on the issues of feminism and liberation. As hard as I have tried I have yet to know that name of the author ( If you know please let me know! I would love to meet her/him) All I know is that it was published by La Verdad in 1997 and it was posted on the website of Union Del Barrio. In reading it, I found great insights and a refreshing view on how feminism has affected our people, especially the women. It is entitled "A Revolutionary Nationalist Perspective: On The Need To Truly Challenge Sexism Through National Liberation Focused Chicano Mexicano Struggle."
"Fundamental to any revolutionary organization and pro-independence
conscious movement is the absolute political, social, and economic
equality between men and women. As part of developing a progressive
consciousness among our gente, we must work to combat sexism in all
its forms and manifestations."
We have to incorporate justice within our respective organizations and not allow divisive and colonial attitudes to lurk amongst us as we work to end the colonization of our people. We must ask ourselves where such sex-based oppressive attitudes come from. Machismo is not inherently Nican Tlaca as we have been taught. It does not come embedded in our men’s DNA. It is a colonized-learned-behavior. Just because we are not Eurocentric “feminists” does not mean that we cannot fight sexism as a Nican Tlaca women, as Nican Tlaca people.
Nican Tlaca People Before 1492
We are presented the modern world as we know it as a product of European genius and intellect. We are told that American culture is the most advanced and liberal society in the world, if we do not know world history, we buy this farce and digest it as a reality. But we don’t stop and think of what life was like before America was created, we are not offered the option to compare and contrast Nican Tlaca societies, as if to say, there was nothing of value in those societies so why bother. But we must go back. Before 1492, before 1519, we must return to the time before the European white supremacy invaded our lands and our lives. We must do our best to decipher what the codes of justice, education, and science were amongst our people. Who were we before the European invasion? What culture did we live?
When studying our societies prior to the invasion of our lands, it becomes evident that our gender roles were very different from the European model that we have been presented. To really understand the gender dynamics that we had as a people prior to 1492, we must let go of the self-hating identity issues that keep us from loving ourselves as the full and mixed-blooded Nican Tlaca (Indigenous) people that we are. We have to dismantle the colonialist-genocidal practices of allowing ourselves to be defined as “Hispanic, Latino, Raza, and Mestizo.” These are the identities under which we are allowed to operate and participate in a decolonizing discussion. The true, complete, oppressive and racist experience of being a colonized people is not allowed to be discussed in a liberation context. Our identity as a people and our understanding of being women, have been colonially constructed.
In reclaiming our Nican Tlaca identity we must reclaim our philosophies, especially when it comes to do gender politics. In learning of our history in a non-Euro-centric manner, we will find a whole new approach to the reconstruction of our identity via our pre-invasion societies. When you begin studying our Nican Tlaca history, you will find extensive information on our women’s participation in our daily lives. What role did Nican Tlaca women play prior to the European invasion? How have those roles changed under colonization?
To begin to analyze our societies prior to 1492 requires that we search deep through original source for remnants of any reference to women. Although we must be extremely cautious in reading the writings of Europeans who cared less to fully grasp our culture, there are certain consistencies that we can find. For example, there is much information on Mexica (Aztec) women were doctors, priestesses, artisans, litigants, business women, teachers, etc. In the Mexica civilization we see a display of women’s participation that was heavily documented by Spanish friars who were dumbfounded to learn that our women shared in the molding and direction of the Mexica culture.
In Indian Women In Early Mexico, Susan Shroeder and Stephanie Wood, share their research on what they understood to be the roles of Mexica women. “..it is evident that Indian women were not only co-progenitors of their histories but also active participants in influencing the direction that those histories would take.” (p4) They go on to elaborate on the various roles held as merchants, doctors, litigators, priestess, teachers, and conclude that colonialism had a devastating impact on status of women. They demonstrate that Mexica women lived a much more equal and liberated lifestyle that allowed them to participate in many realms that in other places of the world were quite limited. The imposition of colonialism, as demonstrated in this study, became a restraint on women’s roles in our society.
“Moreover from this time forward the well-defined
and often quite complementary gender roles as they
were known for the pre-Hispanic era changed,
and native women in general experienced a
diminishing presence in traditional social spheres.”
Introduction (p. 5 Schroeder and Wood)
The racist ideas that usually accompanies much of the negative interpretations given when describing our Nican Tlaca history, seems to include the idea that women were kept enslaved in their household, barefoot and pregnant. However, there is much evidence and much more inferences that we can make about what the life of a Nican Tlaca woman, especially Mexica, that lead us to realize a much more inclusive society that is not as oppressive as we have been taught. Along with racist views, comes the ignorant acceptance of certain myths that have been constructed from this very Eurocentric base.
“The age of witch-hunting spanned more than four centuries ( from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century) in its sweep…[it] took different forms at different times and places, but never lost its essential character: that of a ruling class campaign of terror directed against the female peasant population. Witches represented a political, religious, and sexual threat to the Protestant and Catholic churches alike, as well as to the state”
p.5, Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers by Barbara Ehrenreich, 1973
"La Reyna" Olmec female sculpture
Nican Tlaca Women Resisting Colonialism Since 1492
We as Nican Tlaca women have been resisting colonialism along with our men since 1492. We have not been the willing victims of rape as the Pocahontas Disney fairy tale cartoon displays. There is a lot of documentation that exposes our role as defender of our lands, our people, and our bodies.
“Women were frequent participants in and even, on occasion, leader of colonial rebellions. William B. Taylor has written,
Militiamen called in by the Spanish authorities were likely to encounterNasty mobs of hundreds of women brandishing spears and kitchen knives or cradling rocks in their skirts, and young children and old people carrying or throwing whatever they could manage, we well as better armed groups of adult men…In atleast one-fourth of the cases, women led the attacks and were visibly aggressive, insulting, and rebellious in their behavior towards outside authorities.”
(p.141 Indian Women In Early Mexico, Schroeder and Wood)
In American Holocaust, David E. Stannard draws from various original sources, that depict the treatment of Nican Tlaca women at the hands of Europeans.:
“If an India attempted to resist, she was whipped or tortured or burned alive…Indian woman was burned to death in her hut by a Spaniard who tried to rape her…” (p. 85 Stannard)
The invasion and ongoing occupation of our lands has destroyed the roles that all of our people played. Our culture has been destroyed and we have been lowered into slavery. It is a comfortable slavery because we have certain freedoms and can wear cute clothes while our minds are indoctrinated by media tactics and a colonizing education system. Our leaders, doctors, scientists, philosophers, warriors, etc., were killed. The impact that this colonial and genocidal experience has left in our psyche has been an distorted our understanding of what it is to be a free nation.
After so many years of being taught to institutionally hate ourselves, some of us seek justice reacting against our own culture and waving the flag of European culture as supreme. We embrace the flag of surrender. We embrace genocide. Some of us give up and join the enemy. We join the crowd of white supremacy. Instead of fighting colonialism we justify it by saying that things changed for the better. It is with this perspective, that I present a criticism on feminism.; more specifically, “Chicana Feminism.” Intentionally or not, our Chicana feminist writers are contributing to the ongoing colonialism of our people. Why create something new when our heritage and identity scream for life? We need a reconstruction and resurrection of our culture and heritage. We need a liberation and a return to being a free people. We don’t need to create a new identity of self-centered philosophies or a false and perverted notion of our Nican Tlaca history and identity.
As women of Anahuac, we must see ourselves as a collective force that has deep- rooted practices in relation to the social constructions of gender and power. One of the biggest obstacles in over-coming ignorance of our heritage is to remove the “mestizo” farce mentality that we have been infected with. This pseudo identity is used to justify the mass rape of our people. This concept celebrates the “mixture” of our Nican Tlaca people and Spaniards. It draws of fairy tale of Nican Tlaca women falling crazy in love with Europeans and than having tons of children and bam! Magically we as Mexicans and Central Americans are a new race. That is a lie given to hide the pain and genocide brought upon us by the European invasion of 1492. It allows for a comfortable history lesson plan in elementary school that makes Europeans feel guilt-less when reviewing their historical impact on our people.
The concept of being a new race, was developed by Jose Vasconcelos who was the prime minister of Education of Mexico in the early 20’s following the Mexican revolution. Vasconcelos was a Mexican who sought to unite all non-white cultures under the Spanish European culture of language and Catholic religion which he deemed supreme. What some have considered to be a very inclusive terms, Raza and Mestizo, in reality are a white supremacist celebration of our defeat. They claim to be a melting pot of cultures in Mexico but in reality it is a culture of defeat. He even went as far as to talk about the population control of non-white peoples and the increase in a White population in Mexico. In a debate held in Chicago he suggested that Black, Asian, and Nican Tlaca peoples reproduction be regulated. The debate was documented in the published book Aspects of Mexican Civilization :
“If we do not wish to be over-whelmed by the wave of the Negro, of the Indian, or of the Asiatic, we shall have to see that the Negro, the Indian, and the Asiatic are raised to the higher standards of life, where reproduction becomes regulated and quality predominates over numbers.”
The concept of mestizaje is practically stemmed from the core idea that Mexicans are a bunch of halfbreeds who needed the Spanish culture as the essence to this existence. The concept along with the idea of us being a “new race” or “nueva raza” was birthed from the Eurocentricity of Jose Vasconcelos, who wrote “The Cosmic Race” as a way to theorize what he saw as the meshing of races, but all united under the Spanish language and European culture. The complete colonization of a people can be deemed successful when “the colonizers were able to convince the colonized of their own inferiority,’ and once the population stopped considering itself Indian, then de-Indianization was complete.” (22 and 46 Batalla). Our people, who were stripped of our Indigenous identity could never truly be considered European, they were labeled mestizos as a way of killing their identity in a form of identity genocide. Drawing from Guillermo Bonfil-Batalla’s great work in Mexico Profundo: Reclaiming A Civlization we can point out how our Nican Tlaca (Indigenous) heritage is shunned out of our consciousness and we are systematically left to embrace an oppressive and colonizing view of identity as a way to keep us in shame and submissive to European culture. Batalla calls this stripping of Nican Tlaca identity and culture “de-indianization.” Batalla defines it as “a historical process through which populations that originally possessed a particular and distinctive identity, based upon their own culture, are forced to renounce that identity with all the consequent changes in their social organization and culture” (p 17).
How can we as a people embrace our heritage and identity when we have been systematically kept from the richness of our culture and history? We are given the false reasoning that because we have been “mixed” which is a euphemism for rape, that we cannot fully embrace our Nican Tlaca identity. This is completely false. All we need to do is look at how other peoples have dealt with the issues of rape and we will learn that they have not been deterred in their grasp of their heritage. i.e., Jews, Turks, Italians, etc., We need to clear our mind from crippling bogus arguments that justify our colonial condition and begin confronting those lies by deconstructing the imposed ideologies that oppress and limit our understanding of our worth and the uniqueness of our collective identity as Nican Tlaca people. In this process of deconstruction we need to deconstruct the solutions that we have used as a way to liberate ourselves. Much of the time solutions for the colonizer’s problems cannot be used by us, the colonized.
Let us make this very clear, that this is not an attack against feminism because it has played a positive role in the lives of many of our women. We can see how there has been a positive affect on our communities. It has helped our women out of abusive relationships; helped us hold our heads up high and not let anyone talk down on us because we are women. It is what we know. It is what uplifts us out of this male centered colonialism. It gives us confidence and a stronger grasp on the declaration of our rights and right to be treated equal. But there has been a huge gap in this effect: The lack of a liberating approach to our womens condition. When we look at the bigger colonial matrix picture we find that that the Feminist demand of equality does so while we exist within European domination. We as women cannot and should not separate ourselves from our men simply because of our improved condition within feminism and the improvement of white women’s rights. We have the right to express our concern and voice out the inequality among us Nican Tlaca women and men but not letting go of our over-all goal for complete liberation. How can we fight for our rights as women, if we as a people have no rights to our lands, our culture, our future? We cannot divide the treatment we get as women from the rest of our people. Furthermore, "feminism creates separatism and elitism based in gender and/or sexual preference, plus it often upholds a false vanguardism (the idea that women are more "human" or more progressive simply because they are women and/or gay)…"http://www.uniondelbarrio.org/cmpm/articles/pg01.html
Chicana Feminism Promotes White Supremacy
Once we as young Nican Tlaca women are given the opportunity or seek the opportunity to learn our history, we begin to see deeper than gender and the oppression that infuriates us in regards to women’s issues. We see the pain of our men as well. We are then able to see the bigger picture. Once we start reading the works of the most prominent Chicana feminists though the eyes of a colonized Nican Tlaca person aware of her people's history, we experience a bitter awakening that the concept of "Chicana" feminism ultimately, passively accepts the colonization of our people and only calls us to be equal slaves under the white masters. Furthermore, we now begin to question why these “Chicana Feminists” view our Nican Tlaca (Indigenous culture) with a certain degree of Euro-centricity yet did not hesitate to use Nican Tlaca words or concepts.
It is very difficult to find encouragement to learn more about our culture in their writings. We find no inspiration in their work to further educate ourselves on our history. If anything their negative portrayal of our Nican Tlaca heritage is very discouraging. They may be very creative fictional writers, great speakers, but when they speak on our history, they must be held accountable for making very Eurocentric, very racist statements. Speaking on a personal level, at the time that I was reading their books I was also educating myself on our true history that dates back to the Olmec. With the awareness of the Euro-centric and colonial mindset I read books of my history as an Indigenous woman who knew exactly what Europeans were trying to do. I was aware that their descriptions of our people’s culture, specifically women, were diluting the impact that women played in our society prior to the invasion of our lands of 1492. My readings and their work did not match anymore. I needed more. More direction. More knowledge and more clarity. I learned that our men also are victims of such oppression. I learned that we could become the strong, educated, women that our ancestors were and could use our own societies as examples of equality and social justice. Most importantly, I learned that our strength had been carried by over 500 years of resistance by both men and women who desire to end the European colonization of our people once and for all. We have not always suffered from such VIOLENT and AGGRESSIVE SEXISM. I learned that Machismo did not belong to Mexico or “Central America.” Our men should be defined by OUR SOCIETY and not by the imposed DESTRUCTIVE SEXIST MACHISMO MENTALITY. At the same time, MEXICAN, CENTRAL AMERICAN, and NATIVE AMERICAN women have a long history of achievements in all aspects of society and lived in great cities and towns throughout our continent. This new knowledge was very inspiring and liberating. In the liberation activities and organizing we have no room for machismo nor feminismo. We have to approach organizing and liberation in an inclusive manner, it is here where we need to shed the sexist mindsets, so that it does not take part in our future. We have the responsibility to make sure that we correct the mindsets that we have been socialized with and understand that it is our duty to bring awareness to our people and the rest of the world on what will and not be acceptable.
Our focus is on the long-term goal of liberation. This does not mean that we ignore the obvious sexism that does exist, we understand that it must be dismantled together. We are doing our best to study our NICAN TLACA (Indigenous) societies for models of justice and equality.
But first we must understand the road blocks to liberation. One of the most noted and read books encompassing Chicana Feminism is This Bridge Called My back (1981) It was written "…out of the experience at a 1979 women's retreat during which Anzaldua was made to feel she was being labeled -----tokenized as a "third world-woman" and as an outsider…" Feminism now had shown its true colors. White colors. But the grasp Chicana feminists had of our culture was not deep enough, because the women who once stood up to such feminist racism are now reinforcing colonialism and promoting White Supremacy in an apologetic acceptance of our colonial condition. Whether or not these writers do it intentionally or not, their focus on their rhetoric of self-centered revelations about our culture, are a disservice to our people and to our liberation struggle.
It is unfortunate that our women writers are contributing to the ongoing colonialism by promoting ideas of assimilation and passive acceptance of being an occupied people. They are very talented and write excellent novels, however when they refer to our history and make bogus claims that further contribute to our negative view of our history, their influence becomes harmful to our understanding of our history and identity. As a new generation of young Nican Tlaca women, we must question what has been accepted as normal in this society, and not normalize the colonial experience. We have a responsibility to dismantle euro-centricity and any remnants of self-hate in writings, especially in those works that are considered “representative” of our people.
The passive acceptance of white supremacy and colonialism can be seen in the Gloria Anzaldua’s statement in an interview where she states“…The white culture has been internalized in my head. I have a white man in here, I have a white woman in here. And they have me in their heads, even if it is just a guilty little nudge sometimes.” Gloria Anzaldua states in an interview in Race, Rhetoric and the Post-Colonial, p.52 1999. This is a very revealing look into her mind and understanding of her relationship to people of European descent. Furthermore she states “I cannot disown the White tradition, the Euro-American tradition, any more than I can disown the Mexican, the Latino or the Native, because they are all in me.” (RRPC, p 52) Here we see the acceptance of whiteness, without any resistance. The question is why does she not disown it, what has it done for her? White people, Euro-Americans disown any connection to us as a people and here we have a “Chicana Writer” whose writings are used extensively in literature courses all over the “United States” and she is promoting a loving relationship with Europeans and colonialism. The consciousness that we have of the “white man” in our heads is called colonialism. This is not a reciprocal reality. The “white” presence that we have in our minds of White people, is a colonizing, oppressive relationship. The presence that White people have of us is a reassuring colonizer awareness. We don’t both give and take in this relationship. White people steal and take, we are killed and robbed. Anzaldua’s acceptance of this “White presence” is the rhetoric of the assimilationist. Her acceptance and articulation of accepting the colonizer is not changing our people’s condition. One can wonder if her work is being heavily promoted in academia as a way of using a brown woman to reinforce white supremacy. Anzaldua has no problem flaunting her self hate in Borderlands, “Not me sold out my people but they me.” In this declaration of truth she asserts that there has been some selling out done but in her eyes she is the one who got sold by her people. I would like to know what is the definition of her people and what did the sale consist of? Why are we at fault for her suffering? How is it that her people oppress her but she feels no obligation to speak out against the real enemy: white supremacy.
Ana Castillo, who is given credit for coining the term Xicanisma, wrote a very impacting book in which she offers great statistical information but a very confusing and almost painfully schizophrenic take on identity. She asserts, "If Xicanisma is not a nationalist politic, then what is it? Xicanisma is an ever present consciousness of our interdependency specifically rooted in our culture and history" (p.226 Ana Castillo Massacre of The Dreamers). The concept of Xicanisma seems to be rooted in a mental stage that never really seeks any reality outside the realm of the intellectual. It is almost a psychological school of thought that promotes a contemplation about self relevance and self awareness. Castillo also take huge liberties in Massacre of the Dreamers when describing the Mexica culture by stating that :
“…I certainly would not argue that the Mexica males’ dominance was less oppressive of women than that imposed by the Spaniards. There is little point in debating which is the lesser of the evils.” p. 64
Such claims can quickly be proven false by books such as Indian Women of Early Mexico in which we learn that Mexica roles of women were decreased with the imposition of Spanish culture and Spanish gender organization.
“The imposition of colonial rule had a powerful influence on women’s experiences and gender as an organizing principle among the Mexica. Many of the complex Mexica concepts of gender did not survive this transition, and women’s activities and lives became more circumscribed and controlled. Yet they still held enough power and authority to play significant roles in Indian protests and uprisings against colonial rule throughout central Mexico.”
There is plenty to debate over this issue and much information that Castillo may not have had access to. However, the damage is being done, by equating that Mexica women were just as bad off in Mexica times than under the Spaniards. As a young Nican Tlaca woman, reading this can completely discourage you from looking further into your history.
To make such a statement shows her ignorance of the various roles that Mexica women played in Mexica culture. There is an obvious omission of mentioning that Mexica women were doctors, priestesses, writers etc., I do not claim that the there was the 100% equality that many women wish upon cultures, but the Mexica definitely had a clearer representation of women in their socio-political roles. She further states:
“We are reluctant to acknowledge male supremacist practices of the Mexica (Aztecs) because of our own romantic ideas of pre-Conquest society, nationalist bias, or lack of information.” (p 14)
I don’t remember that last time that the Mexica were glamorized. Anytime we hear of the Mexica it is usually the same story that they were barbaric, blood-thirsty, savages. It is only very recently that we begin to hear a more humane view of the Mexica. Her claim is unrealistic and disgusting.
In criticizing these two very well-known Chicana writers, we are not trying to belittle them or their work, however we understand that they have a very influential position in the education of our people and the rest of the world when it comes to a telling of our history. We understand that not all Chicana writers, have the exact same tendencies, but we must ring the alarm on these claims and hopefully bring awareness of a more just view of who we are.
Their novels and poetry are tinted with passive acceptance of the colonial condition of our people and a schizophrenic stand on identity. The tone is frozen into an emotional contemplation within their individuality and what they consider to be "our culture." Their position stands on “me, myself, and I” and rarely call upon sources other than personal information and experiences.
None of the so-called Chicana feminist denounce the colonial labels of "Hispanic" and "latino." They do the opposite. They promote colonial terms mestiza, latina, Hispanic, and don’t confront them. They mesh in Nahuatl terms, impress the reader with Nican Tlaca terms and then stamp it with colonialist ideas. The main message is a call for us to lash out at "patriarchal domination". A lot of these messages of sexual freedom and feminism build our esteem and make us feel stronger and motivate us to be more outspoken. It gives us esteem because it is the only positive message that we have been exposed to thus far. The message is clear. DEMAND YOUR EQUALITY AND STAND UP FOR WOMEN. Although the message we are being sent is in the most sincere intent a positive one if we are talking about denouncing the sexism, domestic violence, and unfair wages that we receive; but when dealing with our people, it is not destroying the colonizer's tools. This approach as an uplifting of the women of Mexican, "Central American," and "Native American" descent will only do so in order for us to exist within the European model of colonialism and mental slavery.
Most of these essays ignore the most violent factor of our oppression as women and over-all of us as a Nican Tlaca people.: COLONIALISM! We are NOT encouraged to study our history prior to our invasion. We are NOT moved to lash out at colonialism and free all of our people. We are not asked to think of the collective oppression and need for the well-being of our people. We are asked to be individuals and critique our culture. We are asked to betray our people and critique our men and invent new identities that are soaked in Euro-centricity. My question is: Have you fully grasped our identity and history as a people? Have you searched within our history and culture for cultural sustenance? Have you attempted to reconstruct what has been hidden and suppressed in our people?
There is nothing wrong with pointing out the harmful things of the culture in which we live in. But we must acknowledge that our culture has been infiltrated with the white supremacist colonialist models of justice and logic. We have to shake ourselves out of thinking that the colonial mentality imposed on us, belongs to us. We are not inherently self-hating, we are not inherently sexist. The mind of the “chicana feminist” now “Latina” is numb to the shrieking reality of colonialism.
We must remember that as of today, the majority of our people are ignorant of our 4,300 year history and oblivious to our colonized condition. Our victimization encompasses all levels of oppression. Without knowing our colonial condition and the 500 and plus years of genocide, rape and acculturation. We try to find solutions to the splinters of our oppression. You can find many of our people fighting to end gangs, to end sweatshops, to end the inequality amongst social classes, and many of our women fighting for equality with men. The reasons for our involvement are legitimate and sincere but the outcome will be minimal and temporary. The outcome will be progress within a colonial structure. Our activism in such groups is indicative of a desire for change and to demand justice but the actions taken are against the effects on colonialism and not colonialism itself.
Colonialism is our enemy and it manifests itself in every aspect of our lives. When we fight those “good issues” we must recognize that we are fighting the result of a 500 year project that is alive and well in our oppression.
We as a people are too occupied working in the Euro-american maze of capitalism and trying to accomplish the "American" dream that our thoughts never wonder what the future of our people will be nor are we curious to know the past. Even those of our people who claim to have a deeper awareness of problems existing in our communities shutter at the thought of our people rising up for our rights as Indigenous people on our stolen continent: Anahuac. The liberation of our people seems like a bad-joke that is rarely told. We have a lot of work to do in destroying the institutionalized colonizing agendas that are so well-embedded into our consciousness. Issues such as sexism must be given their proper attention and recognized as yet another form of division amongst our people.
When speaking of liberation we must address the confusing factors that damage our progress and blocks our path towards a deep understanding of our present colonial condition. Chicana feminism does not answer to liberation. It has become part of the mainstream cliché women’s voice. We must build from within our perspective and look out for our own interests when we are working to change our people’s future. So how does Chicana feminism play into our liberation? It doesn't.
There is a definite need to address the destructive mindset of machismo and address the issues of inequality among men and women. There is no doubt about that. We must never allow such a divisive attitude to exist amongst us. Machismo will not be part of our liberation. The focus on just women (feminism) will not take the lead role in our liberation struggle. Any mentality that was imposed on us or given to us by European will not be incorporated into our vision. We will come up with our own solutions. We can address the inequality of our people by fighting for our liberation.
As young Nican Tlaca woman, we are outreached by the "Chicana Feminist" who tell us about the writings of Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, and Gloria Anzaldua. Those of us who had been lacking any type of direction from our people can relate to most of their writings. But when we study our history and culture in a complete and non Euro-centric way, we start to realize that their writings are not addressing the issues that we suffer from AS A PEOPLE. We need stories and poems that tell us who we are as a people. Breathe life back into our pride, that fight for us as a people. We need permanent solutions. We must revise our stand and embrace the great deal of knowledge that we now have on our history, heritage, and identity.
Many women claim that they cannot focus on the liberation of our people because their experience as women is far more important than what we suffer as a people. There is even a sticker "Being a woman is revolutionary." It is quite saddening to see it on the bumpers of our women and especially European women. Actually being revolutionary means that you will fight for the liberation of your people, by representing your strength and dedication as a woman to the over-all freedom that belongs to us. Our biological function as women does not immunize us from true actions of courage and vision. Having the genitalia of a female is not definitive of a more “progressive” or revolutionary attitude. What defines our character are the actions that we take and the philosophies that we live by. I have met plenty of vendidas (sell-outs). Our sex does not immune us from being an apologetic colonized woman. Nor does it equate to being a revolutionary. Being a revolutionary takes dedication, discipline, and courage to do whatever it takes to accomplish your goals. Be a revolutionary woman. Fight for your people. All of your people. Get involved. Study your history. We need to take control over what defined being Nican Tlaca. We must keep resisting colonialism, along with our brothers. As women, the equal respect and rights that should belong to us, must exist in our culture now. We are creating a culture of awareness and dedication. We must implement our assertive demands for justice as we seek the liberation of our people. We have our culture and our heritage as examples of concepts that we can recreate and polish for our use today. This message is not new. Other Nican Tlaca women have also voiced their concern over the Euro-centric approach of feminism:
“It seems to me the feminist agenda is basically one of rearranging social relations within the society which is occupying our land and utilizing our resources for its own benefit. Nothing I’ve encountered in feminist theory addresses the fact of our colonization, or the wrongness of white women’s stake in it…I can only conclude that, like Marxism, which arrives at the same outcome through class rather than gender theory, feminism is essentially a Euro-supremacist ideology and is therefore quite imperialist in its implications.”
Pam Colorado, Oneida Scholar quoted in The State of Native America
The White man alone should not be given credit or blame for colonialism separated from the White woman. They both have shared in the profits of our genocide and theft. As the white man pillages and rapes our people, white women happily embrace the fruits of their partners crimes and even participate in their genocidal activities. We cannot incorporate the white woman solution to our reality as colonized Nican Tlaca women in constant battle to decolonize our people. We cannot blindly accept any sex-based liberation philosophy or any other divisive agenda as a guide for the recipe for our complete liberation. We are women living in an occupied nation. We have a country. We have a place in this world and we will define it with the soul of our heritage and the fierceness of our warriors (men and woman united). We will reconstruct ourselves by modeling our future with our own ancestor’s concepts of justice, theology, and language. It is an honor to participate in the making of a liberated future of a people who carry the interests of their liberation in their heart. We will not be distracted or allowed to be even further divided by the racist Euro-centric universalization of women’s politics. We as an occupied nation are men and women who will unite for equality amongst humanity and not use European norms of justice to dictate the validity of our liberation struggle.
by Citlalli Citlalmina Anahuac
Anahuac Women Fight
Anahuac Women Fight Video Presentation of Essay
This essay began in 2004. The need to challenge the Eurocentricity in Chicana Feminism stems from our need to challenge our own colonial mentalities. It is unfortunate that we have to ring the alarm on the existing Eurocentrism that exists in the very writing of our people who claim to be looking out for the interests of our community. As unfortunate as it is, it is also necessary to reflect on our own understanding of our colonial condition and seek a total liberation. We cannot accept colonialism nor can we euphamize our occupation.
QUOTES ON PRO-COLONIALIST "Chicana" writers: