Thank you! Greetings from the Women of Color Journal Committee, This journal will take you on a journey through the beautiful hearts, minds and souls of Loyola University Chicago's womyn of color. Each piece of artwork, poetry, reflection, essay, and photography is a transcendent expression of how the womyn of color in our community find meaning in the everyday and ways they re-center themselves. This journal represents a canvas filled with colorful, vibrant stories, narratives and truths that bring our sisters of color together in solidarity and fellowship. As you turn through the pages, we hope that the imagery and words come alive in your hearts and minds, and remind you of what re-centers you.
Division of Student Development Administrative Assisstant Assisted with Journal Formatting
Class of 2016 Journal Cover Artist
TABLE OF CONTENTS for womyn of color, by womyn of color... The spelling of the word womyn is personal and political, but more importantly it embodies the mission of our publication in that we are not just men with wombs as the historical conception of the word would have people believe. We are our own separate beings capable of producing meaningful work and contributing to our communities and society as a whole without influence or need for validation from patriarchal systems. This project is an opportunity to educate and engage others about the importance of recognizing our worth and defining our own authentic selves. Engaging in this transformative expression is one of the ways we are fulfilling that mission.
Ella. Mujer. | She. Woman...........................................1 That Girl........................................................................3 Love in Relation............................................................4 The Beauty Within.........................................................7 Pidentity.........................................................................8 Note to Self..................................................................9 At Home.......................................................................11 Unfading, Everlasting Beauty.........................................12 Hair Clip.......................................................................13 This I Believe................................................................14 Sankofa.........................................................................17 American Gothic 2.0.....................................................19 A House, Not a Home................................................20 Lifting As We Climb....................................................21 My Story Is Still Being Printed....................................24 Along the Lake...........................................................25 Gratitude......................................................................27 Book on African Women Gives Power Back to Victims......................................28 The Women Are Gathering In Nepantla......................29 The Burden She Balances............................................31 Illuminating Sisterhood..................................................32
ella. mujer. She.woman.
Original (Spanish version): Ella. Mujer. Ella Ella Ella Ella Ella Ella Ella Es la mujer que sostiene la luz en sus manos; Con cada buena latida de su corazรณn los rayos brillan mรกs fuerte; Mantiene su postura, elegante y estimada, sobre la agua mรกs oscura; Diciendo su nombre, "Madre" te levantara a lo mรกs brillante. Es mi Madre. Mujer. Que Mujer. Translation: She. Woman. She She She She She She She Is the woman who sustains the light in her hands; With every loving beat of her heart the rays shine brighter; She maintains her composure, elegant and esteemed, over the darkest waters; Saying her name, "Mother" will lift you to the brightest. She is my Mother. Woman. What a Woman.
I am a black girl, come and get to know me I am a girl, come and get to know me I am me, please come and get to know me I am that black girl who doesn't know her father I am that black girl with hips, butt, and thighs I am that black girl who wears weave sometimes I am that black girl who likes to dance to rap and listen to R&B Sometimes I am that stereotypical black girl, But I am not "THAT black girl", I'm just me Let me tell you things society won't tell you about me I am that girl who loves all music: acoustic, rock, dance, and pop, whatever my heart chooses I am that girl who loves all types of food: Mexican, Italian, and Chinese too I am that girl who is attracted to all types of guys: Latino, White, Black, I love them all I am that girl who loves to dance, loves concerts, loves to feel alive But I am not "THAT girl", I'm just me Let me tell you things not everyone knows about me I am me, the girl who cares for others so much and sometimes forgets about herself I am me, the girl who questions her worth, because my natural figure is not "beautiful" I am me, the girl who thought I could never find love, because who could love a black girl? I am me, the girl who ventured into the darkness, and couldn't find her way out The girl who spilled her blood, sacrificed her tears, anything to numb the pain The girl who always felt my pain was forbidden, silence was golden That girl who kept it all inside because I'm just another angry black woman.
love in relation
The idea of love really is broad. When I think of love my mind goes to the love I have for others my friends and family, my partner, my daughter. The idea of love sparks up for me emotions of what it feels like to be loved, to give love, to share love, to lose someone I love. Among these thoughts and emotions, there is a thread that connects my experiences with love. This thread is spun around the idea that the ways I understand and feel love are experienced in relationship to others. To take it a step further, those relationships impact my capacity to love myself. In fact, I have found when talking amongst my friends and family that the values and beliefs of people outside of ourselves impact our self love. I have found this especially true for my friends and family members who are women of color. These relationships with others that impact my capacity and ability to love myself include things like my relationship with media. And I have seen media play a role in the way my friends evaluate whether they are worthy of loving themselves. For example, Steve Harvey's book Act Like a Woman, Think Like a Man was popular among my heterosexual women identified friends and family. These women were told by the book's author that their natural way of navigating relationships was full of errors, and the author devalued the female conscience and ways of being while urging women to adapt a "male" point of view. Adapting this perspective, he assured his readers, would lead to success finding and maintaining romantic relationships with men. The message this author spread to his readers indicated that we, as women, are flawed, not worthy of being understood or valued as we are, and that we should reach for the more valid male ideology which is outside of ourselves in order to fix ourselves. This book is just one example of the types of messages sent to women through popular media. It is messages like these, messages that tell us we are inexplicably errored, flawed, and disempowered that can create difficulty for women who aim to love ourselves.
But you know who else I am… I am that girl who looked beyond what my reality told me was the truth I am that girl who found my way out I am that girl with trials and tribulations, but made it my victory not my tragedy I am THAT girl
I have recently been through what has been one of the biggest changes in my life. My husband found work in Rhode Island and we decided to move and take advantage of his opportunity. As a result I have moved away from family and friends and for the first time in my life since college have been disconnected from work. My relationship to work is an important part of my identity. I love working and feel a great sense of accomplishment, fulfilment, and worth from having a job.
I I I I
Since moving I have decided to try being a stayat home mother. During this time I am getting to know other stay at home mothers in addition to my workingmom friends. From the conversations I have with my mother friends I have noticed that womyns' value is often defined by people who have an opinion about the value of their work in, or outside of, the home. It seems that a woman who decides to be a stay at home mother is valued by the amount of cooking, cleaning, errand running, and child rearing she can do each day (it is noteworthy that a stayat home mother is expected to continue that work well after 5 o'clock). A woman who works outside of the home is assigned value by those in her work environment on her ability to complete her responsibilities on the job. After the outside of home working mother comes home she is then assigned value by her family and friends on the amount of cooking, cleaning, and child rearing
am am am am
that black girl who knows my black IS beautiful and baby these hips don't lie that black girl who is strong and knows my worth that black girl who knows I am more than my outside, for gold lies within THAT black girl
I am a black girl, now you know me I am a girl, now you know me But even now, there is more to learn about me because I am so much more than THAT I am me
Nichole Smit h
she can accomplish after her 9 to 5 ends. As a mother who has worked inside, and outside of the home, I feel pretty much the same at the end of the day. And in both scenarios it is difficult feeling like I am worthy of my own love when I feel too tired to clean, maintain my temper with a new baby, or cater to my partner. These are just a couple of examples that come to mind when I consider the types of relationships that have impacted the way I calculate my lovability. For me, my relationship with my work environment and with media are the most pervasive. These two relationships are also the ones where my racial identity is a large part of my experience. In the media and in work environments the messages of women as flawed, without power, and not working of being understood take on another element when race is included and I will refer to my earlier examples in order to explain how. My Black women friends who eagerly and anxiously searched Steve Harvey's book for answers did so because we are looking for ways to stop others from labeling them as the insane Black baby momma, or hypersexual Black video vixen, or even just the crazy black girl stereotype. We are looking to shed these labels because these labels give other people the power to write us off and devalue us. We look to Steve Harvey because our ways of being are not valued, in fact they are invalidated by society. Because society says that Black women are inherently wrong in our ways of being we are continually without power and others will continually have the right to tell us how to act "better."
There is a South African word that describes this community of women of color who support, challenge, and celebrate one another. I have seen this word used among women in the community to describe their feelings of solidarity with one another. Recently, President Obama brought even more awareness to this word during a speech remembering the honorable Nelson Mandela. This word is, unbuntu. Translated loosely through my understanding, unbuntu is the idea of collective solidarity. The idea that women of color, even with our vast differences in appearance, background, spirituality, economic status, gender identity, and age can feel that we are one community that celebrates and stands up for one another. The idea of unbutu has been described by the saying, "I am, because you are." To me, this saying is the definition of love. I adapt this phrase to create a sense of self love and to show the womyn in my community that they are loved. I have friends who are amazing and blessed in many ways, and maintaining this community becomes a resource for us to share those amazing strengths and blessings with one another in a way that builds us up. Because of these womyn, I can say confidently that I am strong, I am loving, I am intelligent, I am funny, I am unique, I am beautiful. Knowing these things are true is important because believing these things are what it means to me to love myself.
Being Black and being a woman; those identities are tied together, making it more difficult for Black women to differentiate ourselves from the stereotypes that devalue us. While in the presence of men, the slightest flirtation, or maybe dust in the eye of a Black woman causing her to blink could be observed by others as a wink and then all of the observers subconsciously put her in the video vixen box. Does that thought progression sound extreme? It might be extreme, but that is an honest thought process for a Black woman trying to navigate the world. There is constant self-editing, self-judging, self-questioning, and self-doubt stemming from the color of our skin. These constant selfedits and doubts often stand in the way of me figuring out what about myself is good, worth celebrating, and worth loving. Being a Black womyn, finding a place of self-love has been a long and laborious journey with peaks and valleys. There are days that I question whether there is anything about me to love and there are days when I love myself immensely. Being stereotyped, misunderstood or ignored by the media or by people in my workplace can lead me to questioning my worth and create obstacles to loving myself. But I have recently discovered what has become one of my most valued resources to finding self love. That resource is other women of color. Like me, these woman fear that speaking their opinions and perspective will scare others into calling them angry, aggressive , or hot headed. These women question the beauty of their dark skin and coarse, curly hair. These women change their vocabulary and speech patterns so that they will be heard and not written off as uneducated or "ghetto." These womens' strength and color are negatively compared not just to gentility, but White gentility. WIthout these women, I would have no one to reflect with or to laugh the hurt and confusion away. I did not love myself when my all White peers questioned my food, language, and appearance. I did not love myself when I felt it was necessary to change in order to fit in or to just stop the questions that pointed out how different I was. It is because of these women that I find ways to love the experience of being a woman of color. While this identity brings together two identities that carry most of the burden in my daily experiences, that of being a woman and being Black, these women are teaching me how to love myself.
the beauty within My painting called "The Beauty Within" was inspired after a long talk with a close friend. We spoke about the internal beauty and what makes a person beautiful. Let's start by defining beautiful. To most people beautiful may signify qualities that enchant the senses. This implies that beauty is physical by nature. On the contrary, I came to the conclusion that beauty is about the qualities that one possesses within. Beauty is not defined in a person's physical qualities, but instead true beauty refers to someone's character and virtues. For example, if someone is physically attractive, but is dishonest, disrespectful, and has a bad temper, that person will no longer look as attractive. However, if a person is loyal, true to themselves, patient and so on that persons beauty will shine. "The Beauty Within" is a symbol of inner beauty. The figure in the painting is pale with no facial expression. This is an affirmation that the beauty is not external. By not adding hue to the figures face helps reveal that our body is only a shell; similar to a manikin. There is also a peacock in this painting which is worldly recognized as a symbol of beauty. The pale woman in the painting holds the peacock close to the chest and heart. The placement of the hand is located at the center of her chest. The significance of the peacock and the woman's hand placement shows that true beauty is internal rather than external. To reaffirm this concept, I also chose to cover the woman's hair with a head scarf, since hair is also a reflection of external beauty. Creating this painting helped me re-center my thoughts about what it means to be beautiful.
I like to think of my identity like a pie chart where different identities make up a whole circle, which is me. Now the sizes of those slices change as I grow, develop, and explore myself. But it's not just any pie; it's a fruit pie, with lots of cinnamon! There is a variety of fruit, but really each slice is its own flavor and every slice signifies a different part of my life. The slices aren't all too different from each other and there is mixing of the filling going on between slices and that intersectionality in itself brings a different taste. So where does my woman of color identity fall? At first it wasn't even a slice that I paid much attention to, but meeting new people and going to the woman of color retreat, the slice has grown. It hasn't stolen from the other slices though; in fact the pie itself has grown bigger, allowing the slices to get bigger without impeding others. This identity pie, or Pidentity, is animated and fluid. It's dynamic and changes as it is affected by my experiences, relationships, feelings, and thoughts. My identity of being a woman of color has transformed into the caramelized sugar that consistently fills the pie. It's in every slice; it flavors the whole pie and is the essence of the pie itself. My identity of being a woman of color doesn't define me completely. No one will think to call this pie a caramelized sugar pie but a fruit pie; a fruit pie that's enhanced by the caramelized sugar. Recentering myself as a woman of color has given me confidence to stand up for myself in all aspects of life; it has brought me a whole new perspective of life that I chose to ignore before. But this metaphor is so tame. I am not even sure if this model of identity completely encapsulates my personhood. I pride myself in being comfortable outside the standard deviation (or as many of us know it as comfort zone) but really I am a work in progress, just like everyone else --- no matter how successful. It doesn't matter where I started and where I end up; it's about the ongoing process in between. In this moment of my life, this metaphor feels right, not because it's tame but because I have let it marinate and now it's so deliciously me. I hope you find a way to define your identities for yourself, may it be a savory model or an abstract painting. Now in the coming years, as I age and gather so-called wisdom of life, this metaphor might not completely capture my experience because the idea of pie aging is not the most savory. I will probably have to come up with some other model, or discontinue objective metaphors for identity all together. I think in numbers and graphs and also love food, so right now, this makes the most sense.
Note to self
I come from a long line of womyn with big bodies and have lost, two of the three womyn instrumental in my rearing to untimely, health related deaths. At times, I view the achievement of a positive relationship with my own body as my "final frontier." Even though people may see me and assume that my slight frame indicates a womyn in perfect health, I constantly struggle with food abuses and habits of inactivity. I made this vision board to encourage my continued movement towards my personal health and wellness. It includes images and words that inspire me to move my body, consume healthy food and affirm my actions. There are also reminders of the risk and surrender it will take and also reminders that through it all I will be held within the "arms of the mother." For me, the mother represents an important spiritual principle of guidance, inspiration and support. You can even see that in the affirmations posted at the bottom of the page, I've crossed out any gendered language for the Divine, as in most religions masculinity is the default gender representation of god. However, it is my belief that divinity is full of feminine energy and that as Womyn we embody The Divine. It is my hope that this piece can serve as a sign of remembrance for other Womyn of Color. May we all remember: the complete glory of our bodies; the importance of reconnecting with all of who and how we are; the power inside of us all to accomplish our heart's wildest desires; and our rightful place as the most valuable voice on the matter of our own lives. Your body is your birthright. Be ye at the center of yourself always.
As soon as my feet hit the welcome mat, I wipe off the "Hey, girl, You hear me talking to you" from a block behind. Unlocking the deadbolt from my 2nd floor apartment unlocks the chains from my tongue, The links that held back my catty response to, "Hey, girrrlfriend" in a business meeting this afternoon, and "Don't put your fingers in my hair" upon being petted by my curious coworkers this morning. I unbutton my windbreaker. I'm through with it, Just like I'm through with explaining my name And why I choose to live on the West Side, One bus ride and 2 train rides away from Rogers Park. Plop on my couch. Peel off my cardigan. Unwrap my feet from my 2-inch heels. Release my kinky black twists from the binding bun. I'm at home. On my couch, in my cocoon, is like my mother's arms, the taste of my granny's sweetbread. In the shell of my two-flat is only my own expectations and a foot from my fingertips is a black box. On it, I push play, to hear Mahalia Jackson co-sign my thoughts, with her marvelous rendition of Amen. -Ilisha Nicole
Unfading, Everlasting Beauty
Every morning, when the sun rises- there's a new story to tell. What's your story? How do you start your day? Sometimes, we spend so much time in morning thinking about our outward appearance. We think about improving our physique, perfecting our hair and makeup, picking out the right outfit and accessories, and of course -- picking out the perfect shoes. Overall, we're spending all this time perfecting the "right look". But...do we ever stop to take the time and cultivate our inner beauty? The inner beauty of being a woman of patience, love, kindness, generosity, and peace. The inner beauty of being filled with ambition, charisma, passion and strength. Am I spending too much time worrying about the color of my lipstick than the words coming out of my mouth? Am I worrying too much about the diamonds on my fingers than having the hands of a woman who serve others? Ultimately, our words and actions are the purest reflection of our hearts. Let the rays of the sun illuminate the life we wish to lead, not based on materialism but based on perseverance, friendship, giving and authenticity. Let the warmth sun remind you to feel, actually feel. And let the colors of sunrises and sunsets remind you that there is beauty all around you, you just have to stop...and pay attention. Every morning, when the sun rises - you have a new story to tell. How will you tell your story today?
Dear little girl with the white flower hair clip, As you sat on the bench in-front of me, I watched your innocence be robbed. I watched how your hair naturally was beautiful and your skin was unpainted. Too young to be hurt by the hands of "false love," you sat there & ate your apples from McDonalds. I thought back to when I was younger and how happy meals came with toys and mommy would go many days just to make sure I was happy and could have the little princess they sold in each box. She did this, so she could keep telling me that even though I was getting a princess, I would always be "mommy's queen." As I grew up, boys who could never be men took my innocence. It was used and tested by Satan himself & had me battle with God. I spent too many nights painting on a face that I would soon cry off. Too many nights dressing up a body that somebody would soon undress, sex, and not hold. I too was soon trading in my white flower hair clip for pregnancy tests and trips to the clinic. Like the little girl I crossed my legs in secret. I just wish, my innocence was still kept between my legs. I still see their faces. I wonder if they ever washed my blood off their arms? I wonder if they knew I survived both times? Dear little girl never eat the apples from the garden of Eden. Snakes come in many forms. I'm still battling my demons. Between these legs came rap sheets and semen. They became rape kits and DNA tests. I tried to wash them out of me, but the pain still lingered. I wanted nothing more than to be dead. This little girl sat in front of me and I wanted to cry. I wanted to grab her, hold, and whisper in her ear to never grow up too fast, and never let a man show you his Neverland. Cause like trinkets and glass, the broken do fall. I fell hard. My white flower hair clip was taken from my hair and I watched as the men placed it into their pocket. My youth, my trust, my love, pocketed for a sick game. Dear little girl with the white flower hair clip, remember, that just like that hair clip you are pure. You are delicate. You are beautiful. You are unique. You might not know everything now or why, but do know that the woman that carefully braided each hair and placed each clip, was loving you through every kink and strand. Don't grow up too fast, don't let boys make you a woman before your time, and always remember that your mom told you that you are a queen, so never settle for less.
Sadika Sulaiman Hara
This i believe
My name is Sadika Sulaiman Hara and I believe in the power of discomfort. I consider my life to be a journey, one that is constantly changing and shifting with the decisions and choices I make. When I was in college, I read the book, One Day My Soul Just Opened Up. I highlighted excerpts and quotes that resonated with me, one of which was, "when you are comfortable, you are not growing." Not fully understanding how this quote would fit in my life, I marked it so that if I were to pick this book up again one day, the quote would strike a cord in me. Interestingly enough, as I prepared for a panel, I happened to pull this book from my shelf to share with my staff, only to open to the page with this saying. As I had hoped, I began to reflect on my experiences, particularly the role discomfort played on my path to Loyola University Chicago. As a first generation college student, Muslim, Burmese and Pakistani woman of color, and first generation immigrant, my experiences through college and beyond have been intertwined with these particular identities -- some more salient at times than others. I could not always define these identities; in fact, I could only really name my first generation student identity most of my time in college; until September 11, 2001. I vividly remember this being the event that placed the physical responses associated with discomfort on my life map -- thumping heart, anxiety, hot cheeks, and cold hands, to name a few. These responses were enhanced when my parents called me concerned about my safety -- praying that no harm would come to me because of the stigmas and stereotypes they knew would affect Muslim people following 9/11. I still remember my mother telling me "make sure you have a bag packed in your trunk in case you need to come home." After this conversation, I put up a barrier because I was scared and any time 9/11 conversations would arise, I became uncomfortable out of fear. This experience was soon followed by my transition from undergrad to graduate school -California to Vermont. As you can imagine, this was no easy transition. Coming from California, particularly the Bay Area in Northern California, seeing people that looked like me and interacting with different identities was a common part of my daily life. One of my mentors, who influenced my decision to choose graduate school in Vermont even said, "Sadika, you need to go to Vermont so you are pushed out of your comfort zone." I asked him why and he responded with, "so you can experience the unfamiliar, which will ultimately force you to grow." Once again, this time by choice, I was in an uncomfortable situation -- one of the few, two percent to be accurate, students of color at the University of Vermont (UVM). I had never been in a situation like this and the stark reality of walking down the street and into restaurants while being the only person of color, or one of two when I was with my partner, brought up the physical responses, again -- thumping heart, anxiety, and this time, it was coupled with the emotion of anger. My anger influenced how I engaged with privileged identities, particularly White people in this case and honestly, it was one of the most difficult parts of my experience at Vermont. The anger that was present at the time was because of the racist behaviors of White people in different parts of my
life in graduate school -- work, class, and the surrounding environment. I also had not reconciled or let go of my painful realization from 9/11 of how cruel people could be in society because of overgeneralizations of an entire group and lack of self-education. This caused me to retreat and disengage. I did not want to interact with White folks because I could not fully name what was happening for me. Now, as I share these two moments in my life, it would be irresponsible of me as a person who is committed to social justice work if I moved on without identifying the fact that both these experiences were associated with my targeted identities, or in other words, two identities that do not hold privilege or power in U.S. society. I know that all of what I physically felt was real and the learning and growing happened at the expense of my identities, not because they were valued or celebrated.
influenced by my lived experiences. Don't be afraid to share your perspective and engage in difficult conversations. [This community is here for you] to respectfully challenge one another in a supportive environment. We may not always agree or feel comfortable, and that is okay. Growth happens when we move outside of our comfort zone, question what we know, and explore our privilege. Thank you for this opportunity. My name is Sadika Sulaiman Hara and I believe in the power of discomfort.
When I graduated from UVM, there was still a lot of healing that happened and when I finally came to a place where I could openly engage with White folks without being angry, I knew it was time to process discomfort differently. So, what did this mean and how does it relate to my belief: As a person of color and Muslim person, I live with these identities everyday and experience the impact of overt and subtle messages and treatment that come with them. I also have realized that discomfort does not only come with being a part of the target groups, but also a part of the privileged ones. I am not only a first generation college student, Muslim, Burmese and Pakistani woman of color, and first generation immigrant. I am also a heterosexual, able body and minded, solid middle class, educated person. With these identities, I also hold power and privilege, something I did not see in the moments where my target identities were all I could focus on. For me to fully understand discomfort, I had to move beyond holding my pain to empathizing and holding the pain with identities different from my own who are also targets in this society. Putting myself in spaces to support the LGBT/Queer community where I was one of the few heterosexual people to give an example, or to seek out information on my own about universal design has been important to feel a different type of discomfort. This discomfort has been associated with nervousness, fear of saying the wrong thing, not knowing enough, or fear of hearing no, you are not welcome. I have had to draw on my own target experiences to come to terms with these feelings and what I have learned is that as a privileged person in these instances, I have not lived with identities different from my own, therefore, it is my responsibility to ask, and do self learning, so I can provide support in the ways that are needed, not what I think is needed. The conversations I have today are very different from those I had when I was in college -- I would never have challenged myself to talk about subjects like race, ethnicity, or religion, or asked people if they have ever reflected on their Whiteness, or able body or able minded identity; all because it would cause discomfort for all parties involved. I now understand, however, that if I do not push myself or people in my sphere of influence to unpack their stories to build empathy, then my growth as a person would be stunted. And, more importantly, I would both collude with oppression and perpetuate the misunderstanding and separation I see because of difference. I have found that these reflective spaces often lead to the aha moments, which can shift how I choose my path. In closing, I want to leave you with an expectation that I use with my team, which has been
LUCES then & now
Sankofa looking back to move forward
AMERICAN GOTHIC 2.0
Reana Sarah Thomas
a house, not a home
Walking in, The door rattles closed. A minor expression of the fear we retain inside. Windows block the winds of freedom That carry us outside of the cage we are in. The balance of carpet and hardwood floors Is not the Nature's choice but the Manufactured creations we stamp on our lives. Stomp on them and we will find There is no soul beneath them, No beat of the Earth to feel This is the house to which we are contained.
This original photograph of mine is a pastiche of Gordon Parks' American Gothic, Washington D.C.. Parks was a self-taught photographer who was able to make a promising career for himself. Parks was one of few photographers of his time who tackled issues of race, poverty and other social topics through his work. American Gothic, Washington D.C. is arguably one of his most famous photographs. Parks named this photograph after the famous American Gothic painting by Grant Wood.
This house compartmentalizes more with the infrastructure of rooms. Infrastructure or In. For. Structure? We mechanically model our lives. Where is the freedom that our house locked away In the depths of the basement Where the webs of injustice gather Without a second thought.
My photograph, American Gothic 2.0 represents the work of Black women in the domestic realm during the early and mid-20th century in America. Often times this work prevented these women from fully taking care of their own families, but in-spite of this they still embodied strength and resiliency. This photograph also honors Black women who have fought for the just treatment of everyone. Often times I overlooked Black women, when asked to think of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. It has been increasingly important for me to be reminded that Black leaders include Black women. Remembering this empowers me not only as a Black woman, but also as a leader and it recenters me as I am on a path to excellence.
lifting as we climb
Paige J. Gardner
As a Program Coordinator for Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, our professional team spends significant time with student organizations and staff members across campus exploring multiple identities. Through presentations we begin to look at the salience of our multiple identities and how they can change in different environments and intersect with each other. For example, I identify as a black woman, bisexual, middle class, Christian who holds 2 degrees. All of these and more make me who I am. Certain identities become more salient to me depending on who I am with and where I am. My identities also intersect, in which being a woman and a person of color seem to always go hand-in-hand. Being a woman of color is a salient identity and has remained salient for me ever since I started my higher education experience at Mills College, especially since my alma mater is an allwomen's school. When I spend time reflecting on this experience, there are several instances of prominent women believing in me when I didn't believe in myself, women pushing me towards my dreams when I felt I didn't have the strength, women challenging me when I began to settle for less. These experiences made me into a leader and taught me the importance of community through the use of a motto, "Lifting as we climb" from the National Association of Colored Women in 1896. I live by this statement which breathes life into my purpose on this earth and fuels my passion for working with women of color [WOC] and others in marginalized communities. I plan to share two examples in my undergraduate experience at Mills College that exemplify how this motto can be used and practiced at Loyola University. It was some time in August 2005, the day after I said goodbye to my family and started my Mills experience. During "Week of Welcome" activities I happened to be lost trying to get to an event when an upper classmen by the name of Lauren stopped to help me out. Not only did she point me in the right direction, she also wrote down her contact information, invited me to a Black Women's Collective [BWC] meeting and said that she is here for me no matter what, even if I just wanted to talk. She reiterated that there wasn't "too many of us" represented on campus and that we need to stick together. Now me being a "Freshman" and still in high school mentality, I thought there was no way that she would remember me or keep in touch, because I am a first year. Well I was wrong, she ended up being my big sister, my friend, and my family during my Mills experience. She really showed me the ropes, and encouraged me to be a leader on campus. She showed me what it meant to be a good student, helped me understand the value of having meaningful relationships with staff and faculty, showed me how to identify allys and work the system. As the school year went on, we began to see an increase of microagressions take place in the classroom, we saw a decrease in the retention of WOC, we saw WOC STEM majors slowly "change their passions", we also noticed that the STEM professors seemed to be lacking in diversity. When students had a problem or a concern, there was no place for our voice to be heard. My big sister began to bring women together, undergrads, graduates, staff, faculty, Alumni and created a movement. Together we created a list of demands: a demand for a grievance
policy, a demand for an increase of staff/faculty of color, and a demand for increased efforts to retain our women of color. My role in this movement was to be an active member within the community. I'm sharing this part of my experience because this is where I learned how to become the leader I am today. This is where I learned about community building, support, active listening, and how to organize action. Later on in the year I decided to run for President of BWC and actually got the position. When I took this position I used this opportunity to practice what I learned from my big sister. It was now time for me to give back and carry the legacy forward. One of our first strategies was to reach out to every new face and make them feel welcomed and apart of a community. My biggest hope was to spread the love and watch the ripple effect take place. I wanted others to feel the way I did when I was lost on campus trying to find my way. By going the extra mile to reach out to each other, we can help others see their potential and crack the door of possibilities. The second strategy was to increase the relationships with sister organizations and allys so we could have more strength and support in numbers. In order for these relationships to blossom we have to master a two way process, the importance of giving in order to receive. There is no room to receive if you're holding onto all of your gifts and talents. Give with your time, energy, support and love so you can receive the same. With this mindset, we saw an increase in membership, increase in program attendees, and found ways to raise more money. This goes for organizations and individuals. I can't stress enough how important it is to stand in solidarity with one another for injustices that may not directly affect you as the individual. This is the act of an ally who stands with and for others whether they stand to lose or gain something. Our third strategy was to share responsibility. Give opportunities for other leaders to step forward, develop and perfect their skills. For some reason it's so easy for me to try and carry the world on my shoulders until someone reminds me that I don't have to do it alone. With all the reminders I have received during my time as a student leader and now full time professional, I have now become comfortable with working in teams and sharing the work load. The act of sharing responsibilities demonstrates strength in leadership. It takes trust, communication, and flexibility to delegate work to others in order to achieve a common goal. No one can singlehandedly make change, it takes the work of many to make a lasting impact. By trusting my sisters and giving space for others to shine I am uplifting them. I tend to think of "uplifting one another" as the act of leaving a legacy, a blue print for others to follow, leaving a door open as I leave to walk through another. This was a great lesson I learned and once I mastered it I began to see my team strengthen in communication and trust. I know I have spent a lot of time talking about my WOC leadership experience but this strongly connects to being women at Loyola. How united are we as women? How often do we acknowledge each other's presence and actively seek ways to uplift one another? How often to we celebrate the wealth of diversity with in our cultures and intersectionalities as women? I was lifted until I could climb on my own to greatness, but trust and believe, I'm still climbing, I continue to dream and stretch myself, I continue to search for another hand to help lift me. But now I have more awareness and experience to turn back and lift other sisters so they can
then do the same. It's a constant internalized movement that will not end until all women have equitable treatment in the workplace and classroom. If we operate from this notion of "lifting as we climb" we can do more than just be the higher percentage of representation on a college campus. Yes, my white brothers and sisters as well as men of color need support in their educational, emotional and mental development but until we make the same salary as our male counter parts, until there is more representation of women in higher level positions in the work place, until women and men can work together to break down these barriers, we will have our work cut out for us.
my story is still being printed
It becomes our responsibility to lift as we climb.
Every image that is printed onto my body is a reflection of where I've been and what I've been through. As a Woman I've endured countless defeats. As an African-American I've endured stigmas I've worked my life to break. My tattoos show my strength in myself after everyone else said I couldn't. They show how the color of my skin doesn't justify my character. My tattoos are a reminder that pain is only temporary. My struggles make a beautiful story that I'm not ashamed of. Everything I've endured has made me love the skin I'm in. A strong womyn of color.
along the lake
The sun rises slowly, tempting our pigmented skin with a promise of warmth, But those promises never last in Chicago. And we, As soldiers heading to the battle line, march, Stepping on the worn out footprints of those who fought before us. We, The hard workers in all those minimum wage jobs, Whom mothers use as examples as to why their children should stay in school. We, The first, The rebel, The hope, The selfish, The pride, The inconsiderate ungrateful child who's wasting money, We the colored college students, Margining the lake with the hope that one day we too are born with fins and gills, With the privilege to dive carelessly, guilt free, Into education. And we stand, Fiercely as the waves are pounding our ankles, attempting to intimidate us, rocking us into deceit, But we still jump, We dive, Launching ourselves heart first, Knowing the outcome will be greater than our current situation, Only to be dragged out, spit out, because in this lake you can't swim without legal documentation, The proper background, The ideal financial stability. And stumbling with anger we rise again along the edge, Always looking in from the outside. Looking as we get marginalized in the education system, How even as the pamphlets were filled with colored faces, We find ourselves in classrooms alone, Representing our whole culture, Biting our tongue when our teachers misrepresent our ethnic group Or when we aren't represented at all, Victimized with ignorant remarks, Misleading racial comments, discriminating humor and the misinterpretation That being cultured is asking to be victimized from others as well as each other,
With the furry to say "no!" To run and dive aimlessly, blindly To change our interpretation, And to someday see racism subside, The winds will quiet down... But for now, we stand along the lake front, We stand searching for that opportunity to jump in and guide the many behind us, With the hope that our footprints will too not fade, So others can walk easily into the lake. And perhaps we won't make it. Perhaps our marks will be lost, And we'll fall after so many rejections from the tide, Digging our hands and feet into the wet sand, Wild hair fighting with the wind, Clinging to that initial dream until we dissolve into the lake, Our nails to be mistaken by glass remains along the shore, Uniting at last with the waves, Knowing that perhaps we won't change the system, But to those whose war follows ours, we'll be an inspiration, That glistening effect on top of the lake, Challenging and complementing the sun, We will shine. A Personal Reflection Attending Loyola University and getting to be part of such an incredible education environment is amazing. However, I sense a bit of cloudiness when sharing my experience as a colored college students on campus. It's difficult to make others see through your eyes, walk in your shoes, and know your battle when it can only be done through "you" as an individual. Relating my experience, and shared experiences, with the aspects from the lake in a poetic format helps me show a better interpretation of this educational voyage. With such a beautiful campus located next to the lake, we sometimes tend to forget that there's still restlessness in a peaceful environment.
book on african women gives power back to victims
Empowering women to be storytellers and writers is an act of peacemaking. Hilda Twongyeirwe, editor of I Dare to Say: African Women Share Their Stories of Hope and Survival, eloquently creates a mosaic of the struggle and dreams of Ugandan women. The collection of stories in I Dare to Say creates a community that gives power back to the victims. Knowing that real change is possible pivots individuals from victims to change agents. Stories of women getting connected to lawyers, doctors and nonprofit organizations offer hope. People around the world are aware and accompanying storytellers in their struggles: Legal aid for Nankunda Mbarara in "Quest for Freedom" and Nakato becoming a health advocate as an AIDS victim in "The Second Twin" give a sense of purpose and identity for the women. Twongyeirwe is coordinator of FEMRITE, the Uganda Women Writers Association, which was founded in 1995 by Mary Karooro Okurut. Intentionally exclusively a Ugandan women's organization, FEMRITE empowers women living in rural areas of the country to tell their stories to fellow female Ugandan writers. I Dare to Say, alongside the 31 other books from FEMRITE, offers an escape from isolation and connection to one another as well as resources to change their situations. The book is organized honoring four parts of women's experience in Africa: abuse, HIV/AIDS, war and genital mutilation. I am grateful for the structure of the book, including an opening from each of the authors entering into the space of the storyteller, because it offers a glimpse into the author's experience. When Rose Rwakasisi, the author of "In God's Palm," explains her arrival to the meeting place with storyteller Kyosha after getting lost and a local cyclist giving her a lift -- "I look on awkwardly, trying to keep myself from sinking in the soft ground and my black suede shoes from filling up with soil" -- she, too, is captured in Kyosha's account. This entry invites the reader into the energy of the room, creating a sanctuary for the story to be told that is sacred and dignified. The storytelling is therapy, hope for a better future and witness to the horrific accounts -- reclaiming dignity to each individual and the power of unity for women in a maledominated society. It is too often that we forget who we are, where we come from, and the people that brought us to where we are. We live in a culture in which people strive to make a name for themselves, and attribute success to their own perseverance and hard work. If I could, for a moment, show appreciation to the people to whom I owe my existence. My parents recenter me by knowing my full potential and supporting me unconditionally. They embrace my strengths, my struggles, my successes and downfalls. They are embodiments of my culture that have passed on their Latin blood that runs through me. They are both sides of who I am, strikingly distinct yet beautifully intertwined. This is to my heart and soul, my parents who recenter me amidst the chaos of life and its obstacles, my every waking moment and step forward is because of you.
The thread of faith in the stories brings hope, and I feel linked in our faithfulness. When Aketch speaks about her dream college being St. Mary's College in Aboke, I see my application to Boston College, and our desires bind together. When Bibiana Kanyamihigo talks about her mother being "a zealous Catholic" whom she never knew "to miss Sunday mass in her life," I can grasp a sense of who her mother was and recognize a Catholic sister struggling in life and in her faith. As a minister on a university campus who organizes immersion experiences, I also think about the film and photographs taken on our trips. What responsibility does one have when taking photographs, beyond tourist snapshots? Am I missing an opportunity for storytelling, being a voice for the hosting community? I am inspired and believe this book is appropriately titled I Dare to Say. The editor recognizes the bravery and power lying with each author and witness. How do I honor the stories so generously offered in a tangible and empowering way?
the women are gathering in nepantla
Erica Granados-De La Rosa
For the Beautiful Women of LUCES The term mestizaje historically signifies an experience of domination in which the Spanish colonizers subjugated non-European peoples through physical violence. In this process, the bodies of nonEuropean women became the primary ground on which conquest took place. As a result, the daughters of European rape have inherited the physical burdens of a violent war and continue to bear the humiliation and degradation of the victors, who force them to live in a state of invisibility, alienation, and silence. This is seen through the cultural and systematic hypersexualization, discrimination, and oppression of woman of color that is found in not only the context of the U.S. and the Americas but all over the colonized world. Yet, the burden of colonial humiliation potentially gives us the power to recognize a reality that tells us truth about history, as well as the ways to challenge the systematic processes that dismiss it. Scholar Susan Bost describes this condition by stating: Her mixed race also bears witness to the decentering of racial hierarchies that occurs when the white man crosses the color lines and leaves offspring on both sides…. She cannot escape the haunting origins of her identity. (Bost 18 -19)
If she, the Mestiza or the Mullata, cannot escape the haunting origins of her identity, then her presence/her body becomes the key to unlocking that origin and past, as well as, the key to deconstructing existing ideas that silence them. Standing at the intersection of racial and gender identity politics, women of color are the bearers of a truth that can only be uncovered by looking critically and analytically at both. However, essential to this analytical uncovering is the reclaiming of the stories present in our bodies and our lived experiences. La Mestiza, as presented in Gloria Anzaldúa's book Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza is claimed as more encompassing than just that of racial mestizaje found in Latin America. The concept of la nueva Mestiza is not the homogenization of an experience based on conventional definitions of race, place, sexuality etc. It is a term that embraces the multi-axial reality and history that confronts the woman who lives on the borderlands: the intersections of existential realities or the confrontation of cultures and worlds. Nepantla is the Nahuatl word she uses specifically to describe the space in between these worlds: the borderlands. This is a space of ambiguity, of neither this nor that. A space where there is no duality. This is where the Mestiza lives and where her consciousness is born. In Nepantla, we embrace all that we are, understanding that we never live permanently in any world or in any identity and we are always transforming. As a result, the Mestiza, through her existence, is an active agent that defies normative structures. The new Mestiza does not and cannot ignore the narrative of her body or her self. She is not one-dimensional. Rather, she lives conscious of the fact that her existence is fluid and that she continuously crosses the borders of identities, cultures, and spaces she embodies.
The agency found in the consciousness of the new Mestiza is one in which we take back our bodies and our narratives and live in our complexity that extends beyond our racial mixture to a state in which we acknowledge ourselves and our experiences as apart of a larger existential narrative. For this reason, Anzaldúa states, "its not enough to say that I am chicana" (Anzaldúa 210). Instead, as Wiederhold describes it, Anzaldúa offers "a complex refusal to represent her self and her writing as recognizable…" (Wiederhold 117). La nueva Mestiza understands that she can never fully be something recognizable to existing ideologies and systems, and she owns it. This "complex refusal" that Wiederhold mentions is imperative to the Mestiza and serves as a transformative tool to provoke systemic change. In her essay The New Mestiza Nation, Anzaldúa discusses her visions of change and agency by explaining the role of the Mestiza multiculturalism. She states: Through our multi-layered experiences as Mestizas, women of color, working class, and gay people we claim multicultural education as a centerpiece of Mestiza nation. In 1920 Jose Vasconcelos… envisioned a mestizo nation, a cosmic race…. We are creating ways of educating ourselves and younger generations in this Mestiza nation to change how students and teachers think and read by de-constructing Euro-Anglo ways of knowing; to create tests
La nueva Mestiza understands that she can never fully be something recognizable to existing ideologies and systems, and she owns it. that reflect the needs of the world community of women and people of color; and show how lived experience is connected to political struggles and art making. (Anzaldúa 205)
Anzaldúa valued the power of education and calls for the deconstruction of conventional modes of thinking. She puts at center the needs of the world community and the creation of art from lived experience rather than looking forward with abstract ideas of beauty and perfection that give no attention to institutions and structures that are the origins of "ugliness." The proactive, constructive and intentional agency that Anzaldúa calls for in the Mestiza Nation is particularly geared to what she refers to as the Trojan mulas, whom she identifies as the leaders of this multicultural movement. The Trojan mula is the Mestiza who has infiltrated academia in order to subvert the system, and consequently finds herself among very few like-minded people. She carries the load of attempting to intentionally and explicitly challenge the system through her presence. However, "overwhelmed by her multiple tasks, she often ends up seduced and subverted by the system instead of subverting it" (Anzaldúa 207). Anzaldúa explains that by her second or third year of college, the Trojan mula has already been stepped on excessively and damaged from "going up against boot tracks on her face" (Anzaldúa 207). Tired and broken, she runs the risk of being internally colonized and used for the system instead of against it. She runs the risk of becoming a shadow that is so caught up in doing so many things that she has no time for herself. continued on p. 33
the burden she balances
Separate we are souls, Young, old, soft and delicate, Together we are strong; wise, naive, bold and alive My unique self nourished and developed Unapologetically me Side by side, amongst Women No, Sisters We are indefinitely I am love when no love can be found I am strength when my sisters are weak I am fearless in my stance even when few are near I am one of many I decided that for my final project in Handbuilding 101 at Loyola, I would build a bust. I decided I wanted it to be representative of women that have been inspiring to me and women I have connected with during my time at Loyola. As I started to construct this woman from my experiences, I was criticized by some of my classmates about the shape of this woman's face. Her chin wasn't right or her face was too long. It was as though there was a "right" way to construct a woman. The criticism came from some of my white classmates and I was hurt that my perception of my history and the sisterhood I identify with could be viewed as the "wrong" way to look. This piece is a product of my experiences recentering my art around my values, my culture, and my strengths. It took time not only to craft this person out of clay but also to sculpt the muscle in her back, to finesse her strong and defined jawline as well as create the delicate scarf on her head. It took time to construct the heavy pot on her head and it took time and patience to balance this pot on top of her. The pot has come to symbolize a metaphorical burden that others have put in front of, or on top of, women of color. I will continue to look at this woman and hear the criticism of my classmates. However, I will also hear the resounding strength that I have as a woman of color throughout this relentless journey of recentering. This balancing act of recentering will continue to be a part of my life, forever.
I am not just another face, I am a sister Grounded, affirmed, a space of strength Unconditional support when I doubt my own potential A place in which I can be my most authentic self My life, like an artichoke I keep my leaves closed tightly but at the careful hands of my sisters and their love so mighty I am able to open and reveal to myself and to them
my heart at my core for it is only then as I let my leaves fall and open up to be centered by these women so together we may unite to inspire, understand and empower the world around us as women of color. It's like loving someone with all your heart You want to tell them why but just don't know how to start. It's like living in a city where every day is cold, But in their presence you still appreciate the streets of gold. The ability to have a bond that is unbreakable, Living life like together your force is unstoppable, Loving each other to a level that's unexplainable ... Living life as a LUCES scholar is simply remarkable.
Authors in order of each stanza: Michelle Lozano, Rachel Patterson, Paige Gardner, Devita Bishundat, Paulette Saldana, and Crystal Toran
By the end of it I was mad as hell. So I decided to go to the meeting the next day with the oh so familiar sense of responsibility and dedication to clarify the political implications of the article that had made me so angry. As I walked I did not feel proactive or into the room I was surprised constructive being involved to see so many women in efforts of that office that who I recognized as women seemed to do more damage in leadership roles serving then good. So I hand picked 'culture specific' organizations the people and projects that such as the Southeast Asian I felt were worth my time Student Alliance (SASA), I first heard of Loyola and attention, usually outside the Latin American Student University Chicago Empowering the university. However, the Organization (LASO), and the Sisterhood, or LUCES, when two new woman of color African Student Alliance (ASA). it was only an idea. It was seemed to be starting very Others I recognized as active casually mentioned to me different programs. Nonetheless, participants in productions or as yet another project that involved as I was in other events that had to do with the women staff in the different forms of art and Department of Student Diversity commitments and my own personal life, I paid little awareness. More generally, and Multicultural Affairs were attention. they were all women that excited about. However, as a I had bumped into through self-identified Trojan mula, my my own political ventures interest in the office of student One day while I was wasting time on Facebook, on campus and women I diversity and multicultural I noticed that a good friend considered to be colleagues affairs was bittersweet. of mine had invited me and comrades. Although I had formed to a LUCES dialogue. The friendships with the two new When the meeting started women of color on staff, I had theme was 'Issues of Multi Cultural Beauty.' Attached these women that I had long ago grown frustrated with come to respect introduced the politics and programming of to the invitation were two themselves as the "LUCES the office. In general I was in articles that attendees were scholars." I immediately thought, disagreement with the way the to read before coming to the meeting in preparation for the "Wow, so this is where they office was pigeonholed by the have all disappeared to." I university as the one stop shop planned discussion. Curious smiled and realized what a for all that is not heterosexual and willing to waste time, I sifted through the page and superstar lineup of leadership and white male oriented. In saw the conversation prompt this group had and a part of addition, the initiatives of that that read, "Is Ethnic Beauty me wondered why I was not office in the past had always there with them. The truth was been what AnzaldĂşa describes a sign of 'growing cultural that although I respected these as "fake" multiculturalism. She awareness' or are today's beauty standards 'skewed women and had professional could have not said it better and contradicting?'" Intrigued, relationships with them, I had when she wrote: I read the short article titled not built any form of real We are weary of the ways "Is ethnic beauty the new IT community with them. I had concepts like multiculturalism, factor?" After reading half of been so burnt out by the difference, and diversity can political systems in place that, get co-opted. These terms can, the article I was disturbed. Continued from p. 29 It is from this concept that I felt inspired to explore my experience in finding Trojan mulas on my own campus, women who address the reality of being new Mestiza's and surviving the institution of academia. In this essay, I look at the implications and the power of resistance and creation within their tactics of survival.
and have, been used against us making it seem as though difference and diversity are power neutral, thus diluting or stripping these terms of their emancipatory potential. (AnzaldĂşa 295)
as a form of self-survival, I had written off many people and many things. This made me sad. In that moment I decided to be intentional about humbly observing the dynamic of the group, instead of rushing to participate. I was truly amazed at the diversity of the group. There were all types of women sitting around in the circle: Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, Latina, African, Black, East Asian, Caribbean, etc. I was delighted to find that as soon as the conversation
thing that I had to contribute was my personal experiences as Erica, and how they related to the political and social concepts already on the table. Being in a room where I did not have to take the time to explain or to fight and argue with the dominant narrative was quite unfamiliar to me. I do not believe I can fully describe the feeling of experiencing that dynamic, that to my surprise subsequently happened every time I attended a LUCES event. As I began to talk to LUCES
interviewees felt they could be their "authentic selves" in LUCES because they felt affirmed. When asked what that authentic self was, many of them answered 'it depends.' Zakiyya Latif, described LUCES as being an outlet were she could let out frustrations that built up in her over time. She called it a positive influence in her life and a space in which she felt supported and understood. When asked if there were other groups on campus where she was able to experience the same type
When asked what that authentic self was, many of them answered, "it depends." started, the women present were just as eager to express their frustrations with the article as I was. I had become used to coming to discussions boldly representing disenfranchised groups and experiences of many kinds, many times feeling as though I had to adopt them as my own in order to more effectively explain them to the privileged. However, for the first time in my life, I did not feel as if I had to intentionally and systematically contribute and clarify any political or social viewpoint in the discussion. Everything I felt was already being said. The only unique
women about their experiences with the organization, I found similar themes that highlighted my own experience and other themes that allowed me to understand the power and dynamic of the organization in the real lives of active members. Almost all of the women I spoke to described LUCES as a positive safe space where they could share and feel supported. The leaders of the group clarified that getting away from the dominant male narrative around which their issues have to be watered down or suppressed was integral in the creation of the space. The
of acceptance she hesitated and paused before mentioning that only her close community of friends would be similar. Finally, sighing conclusively she stated, "It depends what group I'm in." She then smiled and said in an exaggerated way, tilting her head to the side, "I'm a multi-faceted person." When asked what that meant by that she averted to a more serious tone and explained: Being an African American student I have certain struggles and being a Muslim student I have certain struggles. So when I am in different environments I let go of certainâ&#x20AC;Ś issues that
I'm dealing with. It depends on the crowd I'm with at the time or the people I'm hangin' with at the time.
When asked how she felt about this, she confidently claimed, "I've always been like that." However, she explained that specifically at Loyola, a place that created an environment that "was not conducive to her upbringing at all," she has been more aware of the fact that she is a different person depending on who she is with. She described the need to learn how to interact with others by holding back a lot of her identity due to the lack of understanding of those around her. While she explained her effort to attend separate organizations that might have provided a space to let "her true self come through," such as the Black Cultural Center (BCC) and the Muslim Student Organization (MSA), she sounded unfulfilled. Then, as if claiming that there was no one organization that fully reflected her various identities, she stated: I mean there are just not that many black Muslims on this campus. I think I might be one ofâ&#x20AC;Śthree females? But I mean that's just how it is sometimes. You can't be you with everyone, and sometimes people don't understand who you are. So it's very difficult to show that true person if others just aren't accepting or don't want to understand. They just want you to fit into who they
think you should be, so its just more easy I guessâ&#x20AC;Śto fit into that mold.
She went on to affirm, like the others that I subsequently interviewed, that other women of color "deal with the same issue, the same prejudices." However she simultaneously states that they are different. According to Latiff and other women with whom I spoke, speaking about these experiences that are different but similar helps her understand herself and her own identity and experience. Almost all of the women interviewed expressed that part of what made the LUCES community important to them was it being a learning tool that, through different and unfamiliar means, allowed them to get closer to themselves. Nia Lewis, another active student member, explained how outside of LUCES she had never built relationships with women of color that were not Black like herself, or Latina. She explained excitedly how her relationships with Asian women were allowing her to explore her own identity as a Black woman and made her realize the commonality between her and all women of color. The value in the cross-cultural connection between women in LUCES was very clear in the discussions and events that I attended. I witnessed many women who sat in discussion, less vocal then
others or maybe hesitant with comments that agitated a consensus amongst the group, who finally had their 'Aha!' moment about themselves and their experience. One example of this occurred in the initial discussion of the article I previously mentioned about ethnic beauty. The conversation had shifted into a discourse of the meaning of hair in various cultures. Soon the Black women in the group who had chosen to 'go natural' dominated the discussion. They shared their experiences with making their decision and its effects on their families, particularly older generations. In the middle of the conversation a Pakistani Muslim sister took the floor and slowly began to tell her story of what she felt when she decided to cover her hair and begin using the hijab in high school. She soon began to cry so hard she could not go on telling the story. She composed herself and claimed that many people assume wrongly that women who cover their hair do not think about the things being discussed. She explained that she as a woman was greatly affected by her own decision but that until that moment she had never shared her feelings about her hair with anyone and had never before realized how strongly she felt about it or what it meant to her. That was her 'Aha!' moment in which she uncovered a form of bodily experience that was a part of her complex identity as a Muslim Pakistani
American woman. This discovery and deconstruction was inspired by a crosscultural exchange of experience that found common ground within dissimilar experiences. Women may express disagreement with political stances or ideas, and yet these disagreements are often taken in as questions and points of discussion within the group. These same women seem to continuously come back and share more, grasping insight into their own experience. It is through this manner that the group
the emotions and frustrations that come along with those experiences, she has felt labeled as the "crazy angry brown bitch." She claimed that other spaces such as the classroom, her job, and even her own cultural or racial groups, are hostile to her multifaceted experience. Consequently, these dominant spaces make her feel as though she is alone in her experience and that how she feels is due to something within her rather than outside of her. Being able to hear that other women are going
be framed around the macro and systemic 'isms' (and the like) that are embodied within the experiences known to women of LUCES. Ironically, however, addressing all the injustices of the world does not seem to be the intention of LUCES or any of its participants. In describing her journey with LUCES and its benefits to her and her experience, Patel claimed: "You will never find yourself in an enclave of people like yourself. It is a survival mechanism to be able to
Many explained how, had it not been for LUCES, they would have not continued at the University.
witnesses and welcomes growth. In addition women who are more vocal and strongly extroverted about their convictions and experiences seem to be the ones who are intentionally looking for validation. As LUCES scholar Purvi Patel put it, "I need that space to make sure that what I am feeling is not all in my head and I'm not just making it up." When asked to elaborate, she explained that in spaces other than LUCES where she has attempted to share her experiences with discrimination, loneliness, and 'not fitting in,' as well as,
through the same frustrations affirms that there is nothing wrong with her internally; rather, there is an external problem in dominant society, the problem of diverse narratives being silenced. This realization allows women in LUCES to explore the inequalities that intersect in their experiences as women of color as well as immigrant women, women who are first generation Americans, bicultural and bilingual women, and/ or queer women. All these identities and processes that AnzaldĂşa describes as border crossing force discussions to
identify similarities to others and see how a Southeast Asian sister is similar to a Latina sister." Patel explained how it was through the reconciling of differences and similarities that woman of color are able to survive. For this reason many women, like Patel, specifically referred to LUCES as their lifeline. They described the way in which it has impacted everything from their emotional health, creativity, social life, political work, academic success, and especially their decision to remain connected to the institution as a whole. Many
explained how, had it not been for LUCES, they would have not continued at the University. Others agreed that LUCES needed to be present on every campus for the same reasons: to help women of color in academia survive.
The idea of entering into a new era in which the existing paradigms shift and make room for a new social order is grandiose. As a result, it is also filled with anxieties and with doubts that the facilitation, or lack thereof, of such a prodigious process will result in By intention LUCES is a decadence. Vasconcelos' essay, resource for women of color. The Cosmic Race, seems to However, by nature it is a be an attempt to capture and space in which the problems guide the conceptualization of the world do arise and of this movement. However, are addressed because the as stated throughout the liberation of the new Mestiza introduction written by Didier T. demand them to be and the Jaen, it is most necessary that Trojan mula's survival in the Vasconcelos be read within his academy is contingent on context. We must acknowledge that liberation. Based on my the dominant ideologies that experience with LUCES it has constructed the lens through become clear to me that Trojan which he interpreted history mulas, particularly Mestiza and the world that inevitably women of color that create molded the creation of these spaces, are engaging his philosophy and theory. in the act of transforming the However, he conceptualizes world. LUCES is not a space globalization as a process for "crazy brown bitches" to of human physiological vent; it is a space of nepantla transformation leading to a where Mestizas gather together new world consciousness to reclaim their selves in the that challenges an old world in-between and engage in order. He outlines this historical rebirth and new life. It is a process by taking into account space where these women political and social events, can acknowledge who they realities, and developments are as border crossers and that continue to be relevant as Trojan mulas. It is a today. In addition, although he space where they can regain never named it as such, he energy and understanding was right to describe the new to enact their agency and mystical era of humanity as move throughout the world as having traits that are perhaps what Anzaldúa calls "Mestiza particularly embodied by the Multiculturalists." Here is where feminine, traits such as beauty, they are equipped to decolonize sympathy, acceptance, and their minds and continue in love. He was also somewhat the battle of deconstructing right in stating that the Hispanic heterosexual white male race would carry the ideas of knowledge in the classroom to mestizaje to the future. It was make way for a new era. a woman of Latin American
descent who contextualized his vision, and it is mestiza women of color who, much like Vasconcelos' cosmic race, are breaking away and transforming the existing consciousness to create a new world order. As stated by Anzaldúa: The work of mestiza consciousness is to break down the subject-object duality that keeps her a prisoner and to show in the flesh and through the images of her work how duality is transcended. The answer to the problem between the white race and the colored, between males and females, lies in healing the split that originates in the very foundation of our lives, our culture, our languages, our thoughts . . . [C]ollective consciousness is the beginning of a long struggle, but one that could, in our best hopes, bring us to the end of rape, of violence, of war. (Anzaldúa 80)
Anzaldúa's contextualization of mestizaje was not only radical but also necessary to carry forward Vasconcelos' vision through history and transcend the limitations that Vasconcelos did not see. However, in order for humanity to continue shifting traditional paradigms so as to collectively move into a new world, Mestiza women of color must continue being intentional about creating spaces and breaking silences. Women must make time for self and reclaim their bodies and minds. We must be able to speak of a past that
is present in our flesh. We must be able to teach others of our hidden history and our personal experiences. We must continue encouraging Trojan mulas to open doors so that others may join them in the fight to deconstruct oppressive knowledge. We must continue to write new narratives of identity and pull the wisdom from our experience to share it with the world. We must pass down our poems and our songs to our future Mestiza leaders. We must not be scared to write on these topics out of fear of repercussions. We must give hope to each other and to the entire world that we are entering into a new age in which the Mestiza does away with alienation and silence and creates new vision and new life. Bibliography Anzaldúa, Gloria, and AnaLouise Keating. "The Gloria Anzaldúa Reader." Durham: Duke UP, 2009. Print.
Kwesele, Change. "Leadership." Personal interview. 2 Dec. 2011. Latif, Zakiyya. "I'm a Multifaceted Person." Personal interview. 16 Nov. 2010. Latino Poetry Jam. Narr. Flaco Navaja. Loyola University Chicago, Chicago. 23 Sept. 2010. Performance. Lewis, Nia M. "I'm Beautiful." Personal interview. 20 Nov. 2010. Patel, Purvi. "Angry Ethnic Woman." Online interview 1 Dec. 2010. Perez, Emma. "Gloria Anzaldúa: La Gran Nueva Mestiza Theorist, Writer, ActivistScholar." NWSA Journal 17.2 (2005): 1-10. Project Muse. Johns Hopkins University Press. Web. 1 Dec. 2010. http://muse. jhu.edu/journals/nwsa_journal/ v017/17.2perez.html. Vasconcelos, José, and Didier Tisdel. Jaén. "The Cosmic Race: a Bilingual Edition." Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997. Print.
Anzaldúa, Gloria. "Borderlands/ La Frontera The New Mestiza." San Francisco: Aunt Lute, 2007. Wiederhold, Eve. "What Do You Print. Learn From What You See?" Entre Mundos/among Bost, Suzanne. "Mulattas and Worlds: New Perspectives Mestizas: Representing Mixed on Gloria E. Anzaldúa. By Identities in the Americas," AnaLouise Keating." New York: 1850-2000. Athens: University Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. of Georgia, 2003. Print. Print. Chasteen, John Charles. "Born in Blood and Fire: a Concise History of Latin America." New York: Norton, 2001. Print.
What Does Recentering Mean to you? Women of Color Journal Committee
"This journal will become a space where women can take the time to recenter on their experience at Loyola and share their voice, with no explanation or apologies. My biggest hope is for Recentering Loyola to push the boundaries of scholarly expression." -Paige Gardner, LUCES Coordinator "Recentering means redefining who and what about women of color is being represented and then bringing this information to the center of our focus." -Rachel Patterson, Journal Committee Chair
"Recentering is an opportunity to promote awareness of our centralized importance to the many communities we engage with and continue to build." -Shay Collins, Advertising and Marketing Sub-Committee "As a women of color, this is vital because when I recenter myself, I am able to step back and dismiss what society deems as the 'beautiful acceptable woman' and I embrace Ruth Etrenne" -Ruth Etrenne, Blind Review Process Sub-Committee "Recentering means stopping all that we as women of color feel needs to come before us and taking the time to breathe and dig deep into ourselves. Recentering calls us to embrace our unique highs and lows, and as women of color to bond in those experiences and moments." -Antoinette Isama, Journal Formatting "Recentering means acknowledging that conversations about the broader category of 'woman' do not always account for 'women of color' and other aspects of social identity that intersect with gender and race/ethnicity." -Kristin McCann, Publication and Printing "Recentering bears a potential, a ghostly promise of change. It acknowledges the need for redefinition in our dominant social and political spheres." -Josephine Wang, Submission Application and Process Sub-Committee "This journal represents a sacred sanctuary for woman of color to find beauty in stories, healing in community and inspiration in sisterhood. Recentering means to be in harmonious alignment mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually and to feel imperfectly whole, beautiful and confident in one's journey. To recenter is to know thyself and honor thyself- to recommit to our core values and the heart's deepest desires." -Soumya Mathew, Advertising and Marketing Sub-Committee
From left to right: Shay Collins, Antoinette Isama, Paige Gardner, Ruth Etrenne, Rachel Patterson, Soumya Mathew, Kristin McCann (Not pictured: Josephine Wang)
The WOC Committee would like to thank you the readers and writers, for helping LUCES make history. Our hope for you when reading this journal is to get lost in a world of colorful expression. Whether it's finding a few minutes of peace on the CTA, winding down at a coffee shop, or lounging in your room, we hope this journal allows you to escape for a moment and bring you back to your center. We hope it inspires you to express yourself unapologetically as a womyn of color in the Loyola community and greater Chicago area. Please consider contributing to our journal in 2015 and continue to support the LUCES community at Loyola University Chicago.