Upon finishing building our altars and watching a few performances, we shifted the event to a community-led discussion that touched upon really serious issues that marginalized groups face. First, black mama discussed the struggles she feels with belonging, mentioning that her complex racial identity makes it difficult to identify with one race. We think this is a particularly important and relevant topic to address, considering many individuals who don’t nearly conform to a specific group often times end up feeling isolated. It also highlights how many divisions we place amongst people. As we were discussing some of the effects of racism in cultures, we began to analyze the ways our ancestral roots and language help individuals fight these socially constructed forms of oppression. One interesting thing that was said was the idea that their native language doesn’t have the concept of gender. This makes us realize just how much gender and race are entrenched in European society. A lot of these forms of oppression were forced upon the natives when the Europeans started to colonize the land and strip natives of their culture in the hopes of assimilating them to western society. These ideas tie in directly with many of the works we discussed in our class this quarter.
After weeks of planning and gathering materials, the day has finally come. Our team, Alina, Diane and Grace, spent the last half an hour building our altar and chatting with other teams about their altars. For our altar, it was important to not just honor and remember one woman, but instead to recognize the thousands of immigrant women who have been denied basic rights and oppressed by interlocking systems of power. In our altar, we have incorporated the importance of aesthetic expression which many of these women used in order to challenge the patriarchal society we live in. As we talked to other groups, it appears that many of them also centered their altars around these powerful concepts we covered in class this quarter.