Our Movements and the Intersectionalities of Oppressions
Blessings to all. I hope this message finds you with eagerness to keep on struggling and striving to end and prevent Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others. For several years, I have been educated and reeducated, stressed and determined to find, create, and nurture solutions. Guided by the Women’s Movement, Civil Rights Movement, United Farmworkers Movement, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Movement, and the American Indian Movement, I am continually inspired by Survivors of Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others to be a social change agent from the inside out. Those who I have been privileged to dialogue with, read about, and learn from have mainly been Women in movements addressing oppressions or the “ism”. These “isms” include and are not limited to: sexism, racism, classism, ageism and all other unfair situations, states, systems, and processes which are the roots of our social brokenness.
As a recognized male ally, I was blessed to quickly realize a fundamental reality. The struggles for equality and collective healing of Women of Color are related to my own societal conditioning supporting Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others. But even more, their struggles are connected to my healing. While some men in the Movement to End and Prevent Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others may believe their simple awareness to address this epidemic means they have some how “arrived,” it is quite the opposite for me. For numerous years, guided by dozens of Sisters and Brothers and other loved ones, I have come to know that men’s work -- my work -- within the Women’s Movements is a process.
For those who do not know me, I am a Chicano from Deep South Tejas (Texas). I am a Survivor of many oppressive situations and systems, some of which I have bought into as a man in a male-dominated society. My successes and challenges have molded me and continue to mold me into a passionate Community Activist destined to end and prevent oppressions. Sincerely, I am blessed to be given this level of consciousness and even more thankful to the many Women and Men of various walks of life who have so graciously entrusted me with tools. Tools I use every day to stop and prevent myself from being part of the problem. These assets include cultivating my spiritual life, checking in with my circle of accountability, committing to be proactive for and with my local community, and remaining vigilant to connecting our work with all work to end oppression. We have been dealing with basic Human Rights and we can not overcomplicate the solutions since this has prevented us from realizing how we, as people, have many more similarities than we have differences.
For those of you who do know me well. To that end, you are aware that my spiritual journey has and will continue to be challenging. During this path, I have run into thick walls as I have wrestled to redefine my manhood and find out what it truly means once layers of societal conditioning are taken away. For years, I have been part of solutions to end and prevent Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others and today I can say wholeheartedly I have been guided here. Even though I have run into self-imposed and societal barriers, I have not gone around them. I have made a conscious decision to listen carefully to my elders, find out the root causes of my choices and actions, and commit not to make those choices or actions. I have gently been making the daily decision to choose nonviolence with help from loved ones. I must constantly dialogue with them and my community to continue my path of advocacy for the women who are most affected.
With this in mind, I am very concerned about the accuracy and precision of many of today’s solutions to end and prevent Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others. Furthermore, I am worried about how difficult it is for others to stretch and connect the aforementioned movements to end and prevent oppressions to our work. If we are to sincerely engage in primary prevention efforts, we must be very open to studying the intersectionality of oppressions. You may have read the newspaper article, “America is Changed, but Falls Short of Martin Luther King's Vision of Justice” (www.nydailynews.com/news/us_world/2008/03/30/2008-03-30_america_is_changed_but_falls_short_of_ma.html?page=1) I shared on March 20, 2008, the 40th Anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or an essay I wrote entitled “People of Color, and The Color of Love” (http://www.mrcforchange.org/coloroflove.html), published by Voice Male. The newspaper article spoke about where we are as a country in fulfilling the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and every person that worked with him and around him to provide human rights. In my essay, I spoke about the importance of self-identity by saying we must “resist being defined only by our color, whatever that color may be.” I also indicated, “The grassroots are growing and sending you a message. . . . I am confident the movement will reach out welcoming arms to those of us who know they are more than a "colored person" drinking from one water fountain or the other. Let us all drink from the same fountain… the color of love.”
I have been struggling and striving to connect other oppressions to our work of ending and preventing Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others. To end and prevent Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others, we must talk about the root causes. Am I asking for too much? Webster defines the word “radical” as “of or relating to the origin.” Nonetheless, some people see “radical” as a bad word. What is so bad about getting to the origin of Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others? Imagine what that would look and feel like…wow talk about bliss!
My Grandmas, Aunties, and Sisters of Color are still suffering and crying out in different ways, inside and outside of our shelters and crisis centers. They are the ones most affected by oppressions like Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others. How many e-listserves, conference calls, and trainings the half-day before national conferences do we need before we realize how simple our solutions are? Please do not misunderstand me. The foundation of my work has been built by Women who have blessed me by sharing their herstory. Indeed, I have been guided by national leaders in our movements, and I overstand the importance of e-listserves, conference calls, and trainings, and conferences. It is the content of these methodologies to End Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others that concerns me. Programs, initiatives, and projects are now burdened with extensive outcome measures, complicated technical systems, requirements to have degreed professionals, structured curricula, and other "red tape."
I am very grateful for my loved ones, especially my blessed Mom and other Women of Color who have inspired me and are now telling me I am in a position to identify these truths. Furthermore, I am now in a place in which I know I am qualified to take these conversations into community arenas so that we start building our solutions sooner rather than later. Through personal work, higher education, and professional development, I have come to earn the following titles: Family Violence Program Assistant, Sexual Assault Project Coordinator, Community Organizer-Prevention Specialist, Managing Director, and Male Group Co-Facilitator. Since 2003, I have been a consultant for national organizations at the forefront to end and prevent Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others. While remarkable in their own way, none of the above titles have given me the insight, solid foundation, and, most importantly, the blessings to assert my qualifications to end and prevent injustices than the Women of Color I have been guided by. In the arduous, ongoing process of self-restoration, informed by loved Women of Color, I have come face-to-face with the unabashed reality of Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others. I am humbled and eager to take these conversations into the necessary community arenas so we can collectively begin our solutions sooner rather than later.
Today, I humbly declare I am prepared and very willing to share more in-depth the blessed gifts my Creator has given me. Since Sisters and Brothers from New York to California and South Tejas to South Dakota have been teaching me, it is time for me to be more available to you and others. As some of you know, I love and am fed by supporting others as we strive to self-reflect, dialogue, organize, and nurture solutions to end and prevent Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others.
Personally, I continue to self-reflect, dialogue, organize, and nurture solutions to end and prevent Men’s Violence Against Women, Children and Other Marginalized Communities every day. I accept I am far from perfect. I am a “spiritual being having human experiences.” In my work as a Community Activist and now Co-Founder of Boundless: Con Amor y Paz, I will continue to be learning and unlearning and sharing widely what I discover to create and promote peace within our selves, homes, communities, and our country.
In January 2006, I was hired to be part of a revolutionary grassroots project. This was a dream come true since I had been preparing for a project like this for several years. We, two Community Organizers and a Community Organizing Coordinator, were charged with connecting with “traditionally marginalized communities” and work via Grassroots Community Organizing tactics.
For the next sixteen months, we traveled across the expansive state and instead of inviting people to the table, we went to their forsaken wards, underserved community centers, and blessed but struggling places of worship. We were very successful in less than eight months. We asked people, especially Survivors, what they were doing to stop Domestic Violence and what they knew was not working. They gave us extremely helpful details. We gave them tools: how-to information, action planning, books, DVDs, other written materials, micro-grants, and proactive technical assistance.
Fast forward – many more people, groups, and organizations invited us to their tables. We were supporting them with pretty much everything and anything they needed. Two groups of community members in particular touched me and continue to move me. They have overcome a lot of depressing situations which have changed the dynamics of their groups, but they remain eager to do the work to end and prevent Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others in three nations and three languages. These are the Migrant Farmworkers turned Advocates for Survivors who in 2002 showed me who I am and what I need to remain sharing and promoting, Grassroots Community Organizing.
This IS a solution to Men’s Violence Against Women, Children, and Others including sexism, racism, classism, ageism and all oppression. It is simple. Our people, groups, collectives, and organizations are on the ground, desperate for Grassroots Community Organizers like you and me. Are you ready for them? Do you want to get ready? Let’s do this for ourselves, our neighborhoods, our communities, and our movements. An empowered Hip-Hop Artist recently said, “No matter how hard they try, they can’t stop us now.”
Edited by several Sister and Brothers in our Movements especially Juan Cardoza-Oquendo, a youthful and
highly skilled Puerto Rican living in Decatur, GA.
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Boundless: Con Amor y Paz