I consider myself a servant leader. My main purpose in life is to serve others and use my privileges, resources, and power for the betterment of my communities. I know many, many people like me who seek to be the change they wish to see in the world. And like me, most of these people burn out at some point in time. My family constantly worried that I was doing much for others but nothing for myself, and I know many of you can relate.
"Denise, but how can you keep helping if you're not helping yourself? How long do you think you can keep this up before you crash and burn?"
A few years ago while I was more heavily involved in activism, I had a health scare involving my uterus and ovaries. I was diagnosed with a semi-advanced level of endometriosis and had an orange-sized cyst on my right ovary. As someone who has always wanted to be a parent, and someone who had been relatively healthy, I was extremely scared. I had surgery to have this large cyst removed so it wouldn't erupt in my body and cause further issues. I was forced to rest for the first time. After years of working three jobs, plus running my organization for activism work, my body told me to slow down, and I finally recognized how burned out I was.
Since my surgery, I have been forced to care for myself in different ways: healthier eating habits (I don't put salt on my barbacoa anymore, ok!), working out and not hating it the whole time, and prioritizing my spiritual and mental health.
Thankfully, I now have ONE job where I'm paid to serve some of the communities I love so much. I have my weekends back and I can afford to see a therapist. I am fully cognizant not everyone has these resources readily available or accessible to them. I tried to Google "mental health of public/social service workers," and could only come up with hiring information related to social workers who specialize in mental health care or what roles social service workers play in helping those with mental health issues.
What about those of us who help all kinds of people from all backgrounds and situations every single day? How is being empathetic and action-oriented with little to no outlets for ourselves affecting us and our health? (Yes, compassion fatigue is a thing.)
(Side note: I wonder if data collected would show a clear trend reflecting women as the majority of those in these positions and feeling these effects.)
Following my wake up call, I now frequently consider the "airplane attendant" model of self-care my family tried to impart: put your mask on first before you can help those around you. Basically, how helpful can we truly be if we're not caring for ourselves first? Trust me, I know how hard this mentality can be to center, and I often experience guilt associated with feeling extremely selfish.
Because my job is hyper-focused on working directly with individuals and families to aid or solve their issues with local governmental resources, I find myself not having any energy left to expend on socializing or connecting with others for fun like I used to. This is a new symptom of this work I hadn't anticipated fully.
I initially thought maybe my want to isolate and stay at home was a sign getting older, but as I've further examined my feelings and patterns, I feel like I give all of my social energy away at work and save none for my friends or the communities I was inextricably a part of. Often, the thought alone of willingly socializing exhausts me further. When I do try to socialize I feel like I'm performing as myself versus fully showing up and being present. Of course this is no benefit to anyone, especially myself. Lately I've felt extremely isolated and disconnected from all of the things I used to love about being a social person, as someone who genuinely enjoys connection with others.
After I purposefully skipped out on yet another interesting social event, I reached out to my online community who also have heavily people-centered jobs. I asked what they do to restore their energy. A few responses shared they spend time with their pets, and many shared they spend time in nature. Some helpful advice was completely disconnecting from being online and scheduling time to be completely alone. It personally helps me to spend time in bodies of water, read a fiction book for fun before going to bed, journal, and dance. A lot of these were things that brought me joy as a child. (This is topic which I will expand upon in another blog in the future.) I did more reserach about "social fatigue," and have found many resources relating to the symptoms and solutions. In many ways it's comforting knowing I'm not alone, but I also can't help to reflect how sad it is so many of us continually operate this way.
While we have ongoing conversations on how the disease of capitalism has once again caused an ugly symptom of a culture that ingrains working until we get sick and/or die, I hope we can have more conversations on what we can all do for ourselves to take care. I hope we can continue to have conversations on what community cares looks like and how it can be implemented for all people.
To those of you in public service jobs - where our compensation will likely never match our effort and care to make this world a little bit better than we left it - I see you and I am you. This is as much of a note to me as it is to you: take care of yourself because all of us need all of us to build a better tomorrow for all.
This piece was originally published on my Medium site in October 2017. It has been edited and updated to reflect today.
I don’t speak Spanish.
For many of my online community, whom I don’t know irl (in real life), it comes as a shock that I don’t speak Spanish fluently, and it’s pretty embarrassing for me. I can read it enough to get by, and I can understand Tex-Mex conversations, but forming a sentence and connecting through colloquialism is more difficult. While in Puerto Rico, I struggled even communicating basic things that left me frustrated and sad.
It is a common occurrence for many people my age, of similar background, who identify as people of color but don’t speak the language of our elders or ancestors. In my case, this erasure was a method of preservation and survival.
As recent ago as the 1950s, Mexican-American children in South Texas were not only segregated from White schools, but in 1954 when the US Supreme Court outlawed school segregation, children were then punished for speaking Spanish, for being Mexican-American, and having a “Spanish sounding” last name. My eighth grade English teacher Mrs. Garza once shared with us that the first time she felt utter humiliation was as a very young girl who had to use the bathroom while in school. She did not know English or the translation of, “¿Puedo ir al baño?” Her teacher would not allow her to use the bathroom until she asked in English without help. As then-Mrs. Garza did not know how to speak English, she soiled herself in front of her classmates, and cried all the way home in deep shame and embarrassment.
My grandparents have shared similar stories of being punished for speaking Spanish in school, and discovered speaking Spanish was more harmful to survive and make a living in American society. Mi abuelo shared he didn’t care if his teachers told him not to speak Spanish, he spoke and got in trouble anyway. He later didn’t learn English until he joined the military. My grandma says her accent caused people to think she is unintelligent.
In the documentary “Stolen Education,” stories of elders who were children during this violent time and victims of educational stagnation merely for being themselves, are re-told with more heartbreaking personal accounts. Across the United States, many American ethnic minorities have similar experiences in which their cultural language and method of sharing was stripped from them in order to assimilate. This is an ever ongoing occurrence and discussion. The difference being, for many South Tejanxs “the border crossed us” and our forced assimilation is even more gruesome.
My grandparents decided not to teach Spanish to their children or grandchildren for this reason. While growing up in the 1990s, it was embarrassing for my classmates to speak Spanish or have an accent. It was one of the more obvious “othering” markers, even in a school that was already full of “others,” with 80% Mexican-American or Latinx students.
When I went to college at a predominantly White, conservative school and took Spanish classes, I felt completely defeated. My accent was naturally better than anyone else’s in my class, I was constantly asked to be study partners with my non-Latinx classmates, but I was worse off than all of them. I struggled referencing “proper” Spanish with the Tex-Mex Spanish I had grown up with and never quite accepted as my own tongue.
Now, privileged English-speaking families in the US often pay upwards of thousands of dollars to send their children to schools that teach Spanish. Sometimes they raise their children with nannies who teach it to them as we've seen with Beto O'Rourke. We spend hundreds on apps or programs that claim to teach us other languages. Speaking Spanish in many professions is “rewarded” with better pay or opportunities.
Language is powerful because it shapes our world. It shapes the way we think and actualize our lives: the way we communicate with each other in intimate settings and in broad demonstrations. Language is how we feel.
I didn’t begin to recognize this power fully until I read Sandra Cisneros's work. She is a fellow San Antonian and one of my personal heroines. La Sandra writes in English and Spanish, intermixing the languages in a way that made sense to me, a Brown girl in an American world. I wasn’t inspired to write this until I read Yesika Salgado’s poem “Dulzura,” in which she describes how much more full and “beautiful it is to be loved in Spanish.” Different languages create completely different perspectives by way of putting words to our feelings and making them shareable in order to connect. I often feel I've lost a lot of this context and other perspective to feel and experience the world.
In one of my favorite movies “Selena” we see her struggle with speaking Spanish versus singing it. Selena taught herself Spanish mostly on her own when she was a young woman, but spoke openly on her experiences in growing up as a Tejana — more American than Mexican, exactly like me.
All of this is to say that my experience and context isn’t an unusual one. I am now teaching myself Spanish as a means to connect with communities better and to understand myself more fully. As we see students protesting their teachers for demanding Spanish-speaking students speak “American,” we must be cognizant of our historical and cultural pasts to fully understand ourselves. Fully understanding ourselves includes recognizing our place in modern society and its oppressive pitfalls so we can fully organize for autonomy and political stakes. Spanish is the language of my ancestors’ and my colonizers, and in that knowledge I allow for more self-reflection, reclamation, and empowerment to the next steps. To recognize language evolves, and that societies reflect our historical happenings is paramount if we are to fully stand in our power. Communicating in various languages is a profound skill, one we should stand proudly in and reclaim.
I RIDE FOR MARIE KONDO because her method has quite literally revolutionized my life. The critiques I've seen online the last couple of weeks have left me upset and even offended. I chalk it up to my observation that Americans are so good at holding onto the limiting mindset of, "If I don't understand it, I don't like it, and I will then dismiss it," especially if it comes from a woman, let alone a woman of color from another country.
Marie does not demand or order anyone to get rid of anything they don't want to. She is very clear about giving a person full control over their things and how they feel about them. She does not judge why people keep the things they do, and when someone is stuck deciding she asks, "Do you want to bring this with you to the future?" This question is important because it circles back to her initial ask of, "Why do you want to tidy?"
Clearly, she understands humans operate from a place of emotion and not reason, more often than not. (Emotions, not policy or reason, are also why we vote the way we do!) As someone who has held onto something as unnecessary as receipts for their "sentimental value," KonMari has completely revolutionized the way I think about stuff and my self-worth tied to consumerism. I didn't really think I had a problem until a couple close friends came over one evening and exasperatedly said, "Wow, Denise, you have a lot of stuff. I feel overwhelmed, honestly."
My mom is someone who shows her love by giving gifts. She is a wonderful parent and I have never doubted how much she cares for and loves my brother and I. My apartment is a testament to all of the things she has "loaned" me, bought or brought over because she thought I'd need them. How often have I gone to a store and thought, "Wow, I absolutely NEED this"? How often have I felt insecure and down and remedied my feelings with retail therapy?
Through my KonMari process, I've realized many things other people think I might need often aren't needed and go unused. Things I thought I needed or bought to feel better about myself and my ability and freedom to buy them, have been buried somewhere in a cupboard or in the back of one of my closets. In the last couple of weeks, I have given clothes and other items away that do not bring me joy anymore. It's been extremely emotional for me to go through some pieces as the memories flood back to who I was when I wore them. Marie Kondo's method of holding and thanking each item has been the most helpful action in understanding and releasing my emotional ties. As I hold and reflect on items I've kept because they were gifts, I have begun to recognize how truly loved I am. I refused to part with many gifts because I felt disrespectful and ungrateful for this sentiment of love. KonMari's core belief of respecting our things has helped me transform my mindset of feeling gratitude for these gifts from others and items bought for myself, then allow them to move on and out of my space.
The most ironic part of the thanking step challenges how I have been actively working on allowing people to come into my life, serve whatever purpose was to be fulfilled at the time, and have the ability to let go with grace when we outgrew or moved on in our relationship. So why was it so hard for me to do this with inanimate objects, junk even? I'm still trying to figure this out and I imagine maybe the answer will come to me as I process through the rest of the method. Currently, I still need to go through my shoes and purses before I can move on to books.
All-in-all, I truly feel like Marie Kondo's method came into my life at the exact right moment. My WHY for tidying reflects the growth I want to cultivate in myself, my relationship with Anthony, and respect for my living spaces. When shopping, it has helped me re-think why I am buying something. Before I used to think, "Do I need this?" and I would do mental and emotional gymnastics to justify the purchase. Now I think, "Is this item going to bring me joy or serve a purpose beyond my current state?"
If you're ready for a challenge and opportunity to truly upgrade your life, I am a staunch supporter and believer in Marie Kondo and her philosophy. For those who are intimidated by the challenge, please know it is hard and time-consuming, but the peace and pride I already feel is worth the effort. I'm excited to see and show you all the final outcome of my tidied space.
My family and I went to Cornerstone for much of the beginning of my life. I always liked going because it was opulent, huge and beautiful, honestly. I was too young to understand the service, but I remember especially liking the Christmas midnight mass.
The ritual made it special and I learned about Christ. I genuinely love(d) him. I spent most of my life feeling an immense connection to my religion and my spiritual energy in this way. I applied my feelings at church with every day life in good and bad ways. I enjoyed going there until after 9/11 when the weird fire & brimstone-esque Zionism began. The fun and poignant parables became dark productions of instilling fear and supporting war. It made me deeply question many things because it made me so uncomfortable and angry. I can’t recall being back since.
At a younger, more ignorant, age/time, I used my beliefs as something that made me “better” than others and judged them instead of being secure within myself.
It took going to an extremely conservative Christian college to recognize that most of the culture of Christianity there wasn’t how I aligned. (If you’ve seen “Saved!” then you might, kind of understand, except sprinkle in serious racism, homophobia, and sexism.) However, I did learn a lot of historical and social context of the Gospel, and it transformed my faith into something else. It gave me a perspective that dispelled pretty much nearly everything I was taught to believe. Most importantly, I made friends with some of the kindest, most selfless and intelligent people I’ve ever met. They taught me more about being a loving person and being critical of oppression than anything I’d experienced. I later abandoned my faith completely in hurt and defiance.
Church was never a place to feel safe for me. I always felt uncomfortable and on guard. Since being in social justice spaces, I have found my spiritual root again. It began by working with people of all backgrounds, and calling violent things what they *were* and what they *are* instead of letting violence define our every day lives. It sprouted from my understanding of Christ as a leader within known historical context. I’m still learning and it’s truly awesome.
The more I learn of Jesus as a man, the more I understand and feel compelled to learn about his context, the more I find leaders throughout time who worked from various embodiments of radical love and actually changed many things for the better. I know many, many people in my community who are these selfish and strong leaders because they genuinely don’t want anyone to suffer or feel without. I also found a deeper connection in the part of my spirituality I could never explain in words, but felt deeply, always, through more indigenous, non-Christian, spiritual beliefs.
We are now, “officially,” in the Christmas season. Within this season we’ve already seen children terrorized with gas while seeking asylum. Similar gas that’s been used in Palestine and various uprisings here in the US, like Standing Rock and Ferguson. It is similar gas activists had to create “first aid” info documents online for, which included items like milk of magnesia because it washes out the searing pain from eyes easier and allows for inflammation to subside to breathe.) Did anyone forget the Christmas story is precisely about two refugees seeking safety elsewhere from their homes to ensure a life for their unborn child?
Meanwhile, just a few days ago, 27 members of a North Carolina Methodist church were arrested for blocking an ICE van after a member of their congregation was apprehended.
In the Netherlands, there is a congregation that has been holding service for 27 days so an Armenian family can’t be deported. Many Muslim organizations have been fundraising and gathering supplies of medical aid and food for refugees. These are folks living in accordance to their faiths. The best thing about most major religions is the common belief in treating others how you treat yourself.
We have a lot of reflecting to do as citizens of earth, and not just our respective little corners of it. If you consider yourself “religious” or not, I implore you question the things you believe and why you believe them. Why do you look up to the people you do? What can you do to be kinder and more just? How can you inspire others to be this way also?
Today begins early voting in Texas and people are already showing up in record numbers to the polls. To say I'm excited is an understatement! I believe in the power of voting as one means of enacting people power. We have much more direct work to do to see the changes we desperately need and want, but please understand voting is a piece of that large, complicated puzzle.
Check out a Bexar County Sample Ballot
Propositions A,B,C City of San Antonio Charter
I am voting NO on all 3. If approved, these props will affect every San Antonian - I believe negatively. If you'd like more information about the propositions please check out this Google Doc of info I gathered while I was researching:
Not So Easy As ABC
If you'd like to see the videos I did in collab with The DownMarket, check out all three here:
Hard Pills Series
Vote for Beto. A moldy sock would be better than Ted Cruz, but luckily O'Rourke seems like a candidate in this current political climate that I can get behind and not feel sleezy about. He has gone to every county in Texas and has an extremely well-thought platform of issues. You can check them out here, on his website. He is pro-women's rights (isn't it sad that's even a position to take?), doesn't believe children should be in cages (again, how is this even up for debate?), and understands how diverse and powerful Texas is.
This vote is extremely important because Texas is a major influencer in US politics. If Democrats with a platform like Beto's can be elected and hold this current administration to task, we as people with morality and sense, have a better shot of turning this dumpster fire around. Mid-terms are critical to regaining power after the horror that was the 2016 election.
District 20 - (re-elect) Joaquin Castro
District 21 - Joseph Kopser
District 23 - Gina Ortiz-Jones (please get Will Hurd out of there!)
District 35 - (re-elect) Lloyd Doggett (Lloyd is one of the most amazing, people-centric politicians I've ever seen. He is at so many events and is always willing to talk and listen. He stands up to the Trump administration every chance he gets. He is a true champion!)
Governor - Lupe Valdez (Greg Abbott has GOT TO GO!!!)
Lieutenant Governor - Mike Collier (THIS OFFICE IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THAT GOVERNOR! Dan Patrick is evil.)
Attorney General - Justin Nelson
For other state offices as well as Judges, it's in your best interest to vote DEMOCRAT.
I specifically endorse: Celina Montoya and Veronica Vasquez
Where, When, What ID Do You Need?
This info is from VoteTexas.org!
You need one of SEVEN forms of ID with you at the polls:
What if they say I'm not registered and I know I registered?
Ask for a provisional ballot! It is within your rights to request and submit a provisional ballot.
What if I see something at the polls that doesn't seem legal?
Polls are required by law to have both Spanish and English speakers available if the precint has 5% or more inhabitants that speak Spanish or are of Spanish-decent. There have been many stories where people were taken advantage of and their vote was suggested by poll workers because the voter did not speak English and they did not have a translator available.
If you have or see any issues, please protect our vote and call 866-OUR-VOTE
The Texas Civil Rights Project ensures all voters are treated equal under the law.
Check out more here: https://thedownmarket.net/2018/10/08/hard-pills-its-a-political-netroot-series-episode-1-its-not-as-easy-as-a-b-c/
Trigger Warning: I will be mentioning sexual assault, rape
Today Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified about the "alleged" assault she is a survivor of by Supreme Court Justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. He "allegedly" assaulted her at a party while they were in high school. The length of time between then and now is irrelevant. He claims he doesn't remember the way she has re-told the chain of events, and why would he when he wasn't the one harmed? Don't we as survivors tragically remember the worst days of our lives in explicit detail long after the sun has risen and set many, many times? How many of us have to see our abusers keep their jobs and their public respect when we've seen what they're capable of?
When I turned on the live feed, seeing her sitting at the table waiting to testify made me cry. I thought of her bravery for doing so, and I thought of all people who have tried to confront their abuser, who have tried to tell someone to help ease the pain of it, and especially of those who keep in inside for fear or shame or a multitude of other emotions. I am this person.
Because, yeah, #metoo.
A few years ago I shared my story of an incident that happened to me at Baylor while I was in school. The first time I shared it I explained I never told anyone because I knew no one would believe me, and even I knew I couldn't do anything to help myself. The overall feelings of helplessness, bitterness, guilt, rage, worthlessness, fear, and like no one could ever truly understand or help, bore down on me for years. As "Cranes in the Sky" put it so perfectly, "I tried to drink it away, I tried to dance it away, I tried to change it with my hair. I tried to work it away but that just made me even sadder. I slept it away, I sexed it away, I read it away."
I was sexually assaulted again a few times during this period of running into walls and finding only myself.
None of that filled the void of confronting myself and allowing myself to feel all of these things. I had to stop using unhealthy situationships disguised as balms and tequila shots disguised as bandaids to ease the sting of my supposed failure and weakness. I channeled my rage to finding ways I could warn others and ensure abusers and rapists faced, at the least, a public form of accountability through shame and ostracizing from the communities they frequented. And it hurt much more when people came to their defense or gave them space to occupy where they could likely harm more women. Their clout meant more than the truth of those who survived and were tired of feeling unsafe.
The truth was and is that I always had power, and it's more than ok to process everything I feel, no matter how conflicting or scary, in a way and timeline that worked best for me. There was a quote floating around online that says, "healing is nonlinear," and I like to remember that on days like today. I finally now feel like I've healed enough to not let these feelings control my energy.
One practice I want to share with you who are reading this and feeling the same, who have maybe cried today, and the last year, too is one that has helped me gain closure and empower myself.
Whenever I have unresolved feelings with someone or someone has hurt me, I write a letter to them. I try to put all energy I've felt about them into this letter. I end it with, "I release you from me. I release myself from you and this energy. I promise to work to be better after this release." Then I go outside and I burn this letter while I pray and repeat the last lines to myself. And I let it go. I often still have lingering feelings after this ritual, but I have noticed the act of doing it helps me feel more in control of my life and how I respond to triggering things henceforth.
I wish you all love today, and every day. I believe you and I stand with you.
Yesterday, I went to a class at the Latino Collection and Resource Center about the power of autohistorías via embroidery by my dear comadre Bonnie, my amazing friend Sarah, and one of my favorite poets/writers, Laurie Ann Guerrero. I got to sit with Rebel and Agosto while we learned, did an activity about using our power in mantras/affirmations and learned how to embroider!
In my free time, I haven’t stopped stitching since & have looked up new techniques to try. Hopefully I’ll get better at it, but right now I’m really enjoying being present, focusing on one task, and allowing my mind to slow down and be deliberate.
I chose “un día a la vez” because it’s a line from a song I remember my abuela singing a lot growing up. Taking things one day at a time is a mindset I’m trying to center so I worry less and enjoy my life as it’s happening. My therapist told me depression is rooted in the past and anxiety is worrying about the future, and I’ve seen how that appears in my life sometimes.
As someone who enjoys planning (yes, a bullet journal post is coming soon) and likes to daydream into the future, I often find myself worrying about things that aren’t real yet to the point it’s unhealthy. Practicing embroidery has helped me already begin to slow down and focus, while everything else melts away.
I’m excited to continue practicing and can’t wait to hang my first creation, “un día a la vez,” as a reminder to take time to be deliberate, present, and allow myself time to be a work in progress.
I'm going to admit something that may shock some of you: I absolutely loathed my Government class in high school and skipped it every change I got. I only passed by the good graces of my teacher, who was honestly, pretty cool. (Thank you, wherever you are!) At the time I was aware of social issues and deeply wanting to make the world a better place, but connecting that to politics at any level was not even on my radar. Learning about branches of government and voting and blah blah blah was something I could not have cared less about! I know many, many of you felt or even still feel the same. I don't blame you! Civics is something that often isn't taught in an engaging manner or even highlighted as something important.
2009 (when I was a senior in HS) was a LONG time ago, it feels like. Obama was still President and a President, at least, with class and decorum! The world wasn't a complete dumpster fire like it is now! Following 2016's political cycle many people, especially, thankfully, young people became exponentially more interested in the political process.
This year's elections (called mid-terms, because they happen mid-way of a president's term in office) are especially important because they determine who is in Congress - aka 1 branch of government that helps determine extremely important things for us citizens like what laws are passed, if we go to war, etc! In 2018, 35 of the 100 Senate seats are up for grabs, and all 435 seats in the lower House of Representatives are up for election! Democrats will need to regain majority of both houses in order to control the legislative agenda, block Supreme Court nominations (Kavanaugh would wreak havoc on basic rights many have fought and died for, and would serve for LIFE) and block Trump's xenophobic/racist/backwards tirade.
YES, THIS IS A CRITICAL ELECTION.
However, many folks still don't quite understand the ins-and-outs of making our voices heard through the voting process. I have to regularly look up voting laws, dates, and candidates.
So I've tried to make it easier for you - here is a quick list of steps and resources to take, along with some important dates to remember!
Am I registered to vote?
Great, you're registered! You can early vote any time in person beginning Monday, October 22 until November 2. November 6 is Election Day and the absolute last chance you have to vote.
STEP 2 A
Register to vote by October 9! There are several options to do this (although it SHOULD be automatic when you receive your license, but I digress): Where to Register To Vote
Once you're registered, look back to Step 2!
Side note: I will be at La Botánica on September 23 from 12 - 6 pm registering people. Come by if you need to register or change your address!
Find who is running to represent you in Texas: General Election Ballot
Then research your candidates. This is my current favorite website to do so: VoteSmart.org
Don't let other people determine who your enemies are. Decide what matters to you and how candidates have a record of actually supporting what you need or believe.
Now that you're registered, have your proper forms of ID, and know where to go, make plans and go VOTE! Take your friends and make it a fun thing to do before you grab dinner or drinks. Share your pictures with your "I Voted" stickers, and let everyone know voting is important to a healthy democracy.
CALL TO ACTION: Tell the Texas State Board of Education They Will NOT Dehumanize and Erase Our Communities!
The Texas State Board of Education approved Ethnic Studies: Mexican-American studies as an electives course after a tireless fight by many incredible folks. MIL GRACIAS TO ALL OF YOU CHANGING THE COURSE OF HISTORY AND FOR UNDERSTANDING SELF-EMPOWERMENT BEGINS WITH HONEST EDUCATION ABOUT SELF AND OTHERS!
Unfortunately, today at the final reading of TEKS, (or Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills: standards set by the State Board for public school curriculum requirements) Republican representatives voted to eliminate the term "Latinx" as well as include "illegal" as an identity.
This means students who take Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies in their public high schools will learn that Latinx people do not exist and "illegal" is a correct identifier for people who have crossed the border and are undocumented. Simply put, our future children will continue to be taught a false narrative implemented by the same old, White conservatives who have kept our true history from us for decades and instead fed us a Whitewashed one. It is critical we demand better for our students so they do not grow up with ignorant false senses of self the way many of us did, myself included.
By removing LATINX, the SBOE is effectively ERASING an entire community of people that identify outside of the gender binary. This erasure also enforces a patriarchal structure of all people being lumped and identified as "Latinos," with a masculine pronoun. David Bradley, representative of Beaumont, stated "Latinx" is offensive because Wikipedia said so. (You can't make this up!)
By teaching our students it is acceptable to identify human beings as "illegal" is dehumanizing and false. A human being CANNOT be illegal. This language perpetuates propaganda against people who cross manmade borders and labels them by actions, labeled to define their worth by laws created to enforce White Supremacy. This language is xenophobic. Instilling an idea that human beings are defined by a term so vitriolic as "illegal" ensures our students perpetuate ignorant biases. We've seen how these biases lead to hate crimes and the creation/support of detention centers where children and adults are being traumatized by the State for seeking a better, safer life. There is no such thing as an "illegal" person, especially on land that was stolen by genocide and continued racist violence.
THE FINAL VOTE BY THE BOARD TO IMPLEMENT IS THIS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14.
Read more information about the meeting here.
Please write or call your representative - ESPECIALLY THE REPUBLICAN MEMBERS:
FIND YOUR REP
LIST OF REPRESENTATIVES
Credit: Lucero Saldaña via Facebook
Keep up with my musings about political chismé, life, my relationship, food, San Anto history, my dog, and everything in between.