Indigenous Feminisms

 Professor Maylei Blackwell is an interdisciplinary scholar activist, oral historian, and author. Towards the end of the inspiring Plurifemisms symposium, Maylei Blackwell discusses Indigenous feminisms and the connection of the body to the land. Blackwell made a very critical comment on the feminist theory of “essentialism” as she discusses the critique that Indigenous feminisms has received as being essentialist. Essentialism is the view that there are inherent natural properties to the female sex, this theory has been denounced by feminists, as it suggests that there are unchangeable qualities to the “female body”. Blackwell states that it is a fact that ALL genders are connected to the land- our source of life and it is critical for us to understand that indigenous feminisms are not rooted in essentialism because all bodies are connected to earth.

Thank you so much to all of the wonderful feministas that joined us for this event!

The Theft of Life: Reproductive Violence on the Basis of Gender and Race

Ankita Kundu, Joseph Duffy, Theresa Miceli, Isabella Pommier, and Crystal’s ofrenda: The Theft of Life remembering the marginalized people who have experienced forced sterilization by the capitalist, racist, and patriarchal U.S. government. Forced sterilizations are a proponent of the eugenics movement that sought racial “improvement” by “improving” the gene pool by sterilizing those who are deemed “unproductive” and “unuseful” in U.S. capitalist society. Eugenics is a type of scientific racism that had the immoral theory of “racial improvement” and “planned breeding”. Thus, Black, Indigenous, People of color, disabled, and/or lower class peoples were targets of the eugenics movement in the U.S. Specifically targeting Black, Native, and Puerto Rican women.

Christina Burneo on abortion rights in Ecuador

A snapshot of the speakers at the panel

Christina Burneo’s panel on abortion rights in ecuador

The symposium has started and guest speakers, panelists and singers are starting their performances and dialogues!

Above is one guest speaker from Ecuador, Christina Burneo, who is speaking about the fight for abortion rights in Ecuador. She testified as an expert witness for a 19 year old who was prosecuted under the suspicion that she had an illegal abortion. There was a long process of gathering evidence from her phone, location and purchases and while this case was won, it is still only one battle won in the war towards reproductive freedom. This is only one example of the activism from the wonderful feminists in this feminista hip hop encuentro among many efforts with many causes.

Plurifeminism Guest Speakers

ZOOM Guest Speakers: Cayetana Salao (top left), Irish Crystal Viveros (top right), Betty Ruth Lozano (bottom left), In-person Speakers (bottom right, Black Mama- Gabriela Cano, Cristina Burneo, Maylei Blackwell).

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Listening all these wonderful women who rock talk about the art as a form of feminism is an inspirational movement.

It gives us a lot to talk about in terms of music nowadays, music is only seen as a profit around the world but not as an art form to make a change.

Below I will provide some quotes said by the panelists; however, some will be to what I understand or was able to type.

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“El arte se a fetichizado” Algo mainstream para imponer capitalismo, industrialization, y nada liberal en forma de musica como jBalvin. Pero nunca de una manera como feminismo lo debe de ayudar a todos en cualquier espacio de una forma sana.

"Art has been fetishized" Something mainstream to impose capitalism, industrialization, and nothing liberal in the form of music like jBalvin. But never in a way like feminism should help everyone in any space in a healthy way.

-Cayetana Salao-

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“Abrimos espacios que sea para toda la familia”

“We open spaces that are for the whole family” – Gabriela Cano aka Black Mama

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Quiero dar las gracias a todas las panelistas de esta conferencia por su enrequecimiento y su tiempo al enseñarnos sus experiencias en plurifeminismo!

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I want to thank all the panelists of this conference for their enrichment and their time in showing us their experiences in plurifeminism!

The Panel Wrapping up

The Feminismo Comunitario Panel is almost over, but what a fascinating time and fantastic learning experience it has been! The panelists have all been absolutely wonderful, and the discussions have ranged from methods of activism and the ways those methods change at different levels to an analysis of abortion access and the sexism and classism inherent in the inequalities found. It has been a chance to learn much more about these issues and gain knowledge, as well as self reflect on how these things could apply to our own activism efforts. Don’t worry if you missed the panel though! The event continues today and tomorrow, with more discussions of these issues and more learning opportunities yet to come!

Altar making!

Before the symposium begins we are all preparing!

Me (Jade) and the team, Gabrielle Sanchez, Elijah Rainey-Gibson, Nora Medina, Elda Theodros, got to work setting up our boxes, securing the table cloth, and making paper cutouts. The theme of our ofrenda is the social death as a result of the criminality of immigration at the border. We made tiny yellow hearts on the friend that with the names done of the victims of this social death. To our right, as we set up, we can see the guest singer Black Mama, warming up her vocals and testing the sound system as the rest of the team sets up the zoom panel meeting technology. Each group member brought a price of the ofrenda, each component symbolizing a different element. Bowls of water to represent water. Paper cuttings on a string to represent air, candles to represent fire, and flowers to represent the earth. We all bring a price to pull together the final Ofrenda!

Starting The Panel

The event is starting off in full, with informative panels and empowering education. Live translation in both English and Spanish is available, as the presentations will be in both. The first panel starts off with hip hop artists talking about their own experiences and how they use their art in the fight for Chicana rights and a dialogue about that fight. There will then be a presentation of research on the topic by scholars, with critiques of neoliberalism and methods of healing to create new connections and growth in communities. After that there will be a continuation of the panel on hip hop and concluding thoughts about the fight for Chicana rights and how hip hop culture and art can be used to create new ways to fight those battles.

Preview-Plurifeminism en Abya Ayala

10 minutes before the event, great honor to be here! Some students seems nervous for being part of this conference, I understand that feeling, while others radiate with confidence!

It is really wonderful seeing all the ofrendas put together at the front! Despite being in an online-class setting most of the quarter, I am glad every group was able to overcome the troubles this may have caused, they all so wonderful. I really liked the different colors, docorations (lego flowers, fairy lights), themes (advocating for indigenous or to a more personal level like honoring a family member) each ofrenda demonstrated. Students put a lot of work into this event and prepared for a long time for today! I hope the people who attended got the time to see the ofrendas from upclose.

For those who can still make it, please try to do! If not, hope you are able to join for next time.

My deeply thanks to Professor Michelle Habell-Pallan for providing students with this enriching opportunity. Wish future students get to join Feminism in the Borderlands for them to experience this conference once again!!

“What does plurifeminism across Abya Yala mean to you?”

Students taking event organizer Michelle Habell-Pallan’s class need to ask event participants what plurifeminism Abya Yala means to them. Of course, there is no one, all-encompassing answer to this question, but here are some ideas from attendees: 

Here are some of the answers: 

“Plurifeminism means decolonization” 

“What do those terms mean?” 

“Both plurifemism and abya yala are very subjective and open to interpretation. That concept is important for indigineous people who might be doing feminist work but not necessarily finding the term encompassing or accepting of them.”

To me, plurifeminism is a term that allows for people to accept the imperfections of any particular kind of feminist activism. Plurifeminists are able to switch between modes of activism without sacrificing self and recognizing that feminism has to have multiple modes to be able to be truly intersectional. 

Students setting up for the event, and interviewing different attendees.

Expanding abortion access: memory ofrendas behind the speakers

Our memory ofrenda is dedicated to the green wave and honors the memory of Rosie Jimenez and other people who have died from restricted abortion access. We included elements of air, water, earth, and fire to help with this dedication. Air represents spring and new beginnings, and recently, the green wave has had many successes in expanding abortion access across Abya Yala. We decided to use flowers to represent this new era of expanded rights. We used tea to represent water. Tea has been used as a method to induce abortion in the past. We used an apple to represent earth. Rosie Jimenez was a teacher, so we wanted to make sure we honored that part of her life. We used tea candles to represent fire. Fire represents passion, so we wanted to show the passion and dedication people are putting into the movement. We also represented fire through the signs at the bottom which give information about protests that are happening in Seattle and show passion that people have for the movement. Finally, we put rose petals across the ofrenda to further honor Rosie.