Monthly Archives: November 2012

A Visit From Artist Ana Teresa Fernandez

November 26, 2012

by Ella Diaz

Photo by Rio Yañez

Photo by Rio Yañez

            Ana Teresa Fernandez is a visual artist, sculptor, and performance artist based in San Francisco, CA. Originally from Tampico, Mexico, Ana moved in 1991 with her family to San Diego, California. In the early 2000s, Ana earned her MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute [SFAI], and began teaching drawing and painting around the time I began teaching in the humanities at the SFAI. But before I actually met her, I first encountered Ana Teresa Fernandez through her 2008 exhibition, “Ecdisis: Juarez, Mexico” at the Galería de la raza in San Francisco, California. See 

            This exhibit featured Ana’s oversized ex-votos, better known as milagros, which are the diminutive metal fetishes of hands, hearts, arms, and other sacred body parts often used in syncretic and hybrid spiritual rituals in Mexico and Central America. Ana’s replicas of Milagros were “life-size” and hung on a red velvet wall. By isolating these representations of body parts and contextualizing them within a well-known spiritual practice for many Mexicanas and Latinas, Ana reframed the recovery of the mutilated and desecrated bodies of women murdered in Juarez. This show stayed with me for many years as I tried to find ways to talk and teach about Ciudad Juarez and representations of female sexuality and gender in the neoliberal state. See  

            Another component of the exhibit featured Ana’s creation of glass sculptures of several children, orphaned by the femicide in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, as well as children left parentless through sexual and labor exploitation in Bangladesh and Vietnam. Ana began the process of creating the sculptures first by taking molds of the children in various poses. She then took the molds and covered them with broken glass from beer bottles. Her choice of material was based on her travels through Haiti and Ciudad Juarez where she noticed that broken glass was often as a type of home security system, placed at the tops of walls as a defense against robbery and other crimes. The broken glass sculptures were illuminated during the 2008 exhibit and positioned against walls of the Galería; one of the sculpture-children was placed on a bench. The figures were at once beautiful, haunting, and lonely. Ana wanted viewers to think about the multi-generational repercussions of the ongoing femicide in Ciudad Juarez, as well as the fallout of other epicenters of violence against women. Ultimately, the broken glass sculptures visually conveyed Ana’s and our inability to protect these children from the crimes against their mothers and the traumas imposed upon them as a consequence and in the future without the protective presence and defense of their mothers.           

Photo by Rio Yañez

Photo by Rio Yañez

            Returning to her recent lecture at my campus on November 8, Ana centered her presentation around her 2010 work, “Borranda la barda/Erasing the border.” ( In 2010, Ana “set an enormous ladder against the border wall separating Playas de Tijuana from San Diego’s Border Field State park, and using a generator and a spray gun, she started painting the bars a pale powdery blue. While wearing a little black cocktail dress. And black pumps” (Jill Holslin, 2010). Writer Jill Holslin concludes that “Erasing the border, then, reminds us of the power of utopian visions, of dreams and the imagination.” Utopian visions are not uncommon in narrative, and Ana works across many mediums, from visual art, to performance and social sculpture, to tell the stories that shape our cultural experiences. For those of you who may not be familiar with social sculpture, it’s an idea put forth by Joseph Beuys in the 1960s and 1970s that proposes sculpture as a potential for and an act of societal transformation. 

            One aspect of “Borranda la barda” that I had difficulty reconciling is Ana’s selected wardrobe for painting the border fence: a little black dress and black high heels. As a Chicana who has witnessed many offensive perceptions of overtly sexual apparel, I didn’t know how to read this component of her performance and intervention on the border. During her lecture, however, Ana explained that the “little black dress” is a loaded symbol—even a kind of capital—in the western imagination. By placing it out of its expected context—the nightclub, the lounge, etc.—Ana is able to channel its co-opted power, or objectifying gaze and turn it back on her viewer. 

            Also, while in the midst of painting the border that perfect shade of sky blue, she was detained by to policemen on the Mexican side, while helicopters hovered above her on the U.S. side. Her negotiation with the police went on for 45 minutes. Ana contends that her little black dress had everything to do with her ability to finish painting the piece. 

            Earlier this year, Ana learned that “Borranda la barda” had been destroyed—repainted the black color of the fence. Prior to arriving at Cornell to give her lecture, Ana returned to the fence and repainted “Borranda la barda” that perfect shade of sky blue that, at a certain distance, restores the horizon to an unbroken, unblocked natural divide, where the ocean meets the land.

Ella Diaz is an Assistant Professor of English at Cornell University. Her research is on the interdependence of Chican@ and Latin@ literary and visual cultures.


  1. Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 7:53 AM

    I had the pleasure of seeing Ana Teresa Fernandez’s work when she came to Cornell University and presented “Blurring Borders: Redefining Truths, Fables, and Folklores”. I was familiar with a few of her works before the presentation, but the highlight of the presentation for me was hearing about how Ana utilized local materials (garbage in Haiti, glass in Mexico) within her art and performance. The lack of accessible “traditional” art materials (paint, paper, brushes, etc.) was incredibly striking when we see the incredible work Ana has done in engaging local materials within a community consciousness in Haiti. Her representation of the children of Mexico orphaned by the Femicides in Ciudad Juarez was a striking portrayal of the multi-generational impact of violence and the inability to protect children from this trauma.

    In her performance of “Borranda la barda”, Ana addressed the binaries of female identity (perceived and performed) along a heavy politicalized border state. Her performance of both female identity and nationalism was particularly striking in the U.S./Mexico borderlands, specifically when looking at the Femicides of Ciudad Juarez.
    I look forward to researching Ana’s work in the future and am extremely thankful I was given the opportunity to hear her present her work at Cornell University.
    -Sarah Anderson

  2. Ester December 3, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    What a courageous artistic intervention into difficult subjects. Thank you Ella, for providing the context of these creations. It makes me appreciate her sensibility to address literal dismemberment, carnage if you will, without producing more injury.

  3. Theresa Delgadillo December 3, 2012 at 8:18 AM

    Dear Ella, Thanks for sharing the pictures and discussion of Ana Teresa Fernandez’s work. The casts of children covered in broken glass are quite moving, and ask us to reflect on violence against children on many levels in new global economies. How wonderful for your students as well that they heard her and had the opportunity to learn about violence at the U.S.-Mexico border through an artist’s engagement with the topic that foregrounds critical discussion. Theresa Delgadillo, Co-Moderator of Mujeres Talk

  4. Ella Diaz December 3, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    “without producing more injury.” What a beautiful response, Ester, to Ana’s work in the Ecdysis show on the murdered women of Juarez.

  5. GGuerra91 December 4, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    I also had the opportunity to attend her lecture and the lunch with her.
    The choice to bring ATF to Cornell, especially given the timing with our class was great. It allowed us to be exposed to a new kind of artist, one that is raising awareness about most of the issues discussed in class.

    She is resourceful and works with her environment, this is very important because it teaches people, specially the natives of the area, that they can use anything to beautify and create art. This was evident in her work in Haiti and in South Africa. In the latter country, she was able to show that artists have the duty to report the beauties of everyday life instead of reporting/focusing on the negative like the news do.
    Overall, it was a great experience being able to meet her and understand the thought process and goals of her art.
    -Gloria Guerra

  6. GGuerra91 December 4, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    I also had the opportunity to attend her lecture and the lunch with her.
    The choice to bring ATF to Cornell, especially given the timing with our class was great. It allowed us to be exposed to a new kind of artist, one that is raising awareness about most of the issues discussed in class.

    She is resourceful and works with her environment, this is very important because it teaches people, specially the natives of the area, that they can use anything to beautify and create art. This was evident in her work in Haiti and in South Africa. In the latter country, she was able to show that artists have the duty to report the beauties of everyday life instead of reporting/focusing on the negative like the news do.
    Overall, it was a great experience being able to meet her and understand the thought process and goals of her art.
    -Gloria Guerra

  7. Sophie Loren December 10, 2012 at 6:03 PM

    Though I know this blog talks about Ana Teresa Fernadez’s work, I really enjoyed the altar of photographs that Maria Teresa Fernandez, who happens to be Ana Teresa’s mother, created and left on display for at the Latino Studies Program here at Cornell University until late November. It was a way of humanizing the border when so many times it is militarized especially by the responses the United States has taken in the past years (because the U.S. must “secure” the border). I was able to actually take an instructor and another peer of mine who would have never stumbled upon this type of work and show them the exhibit. This was a way for me to raise consciousness in others (esp. since that one peer came from a privileged background).

    Moving back to the work that Ana Teresa Fernandez did on the border really struck me. She stated in her lecture that her work was about “transcending the given, by changing the context” and she gave them example of the broom and how it wasn’t dirty on the floor but was dirty when left on a pillow. She does the same with her little black dress and she places it out of context and calls attention to what she is doing but more importantly to the border and how she is erasing it as she paints it blue.

    I could continue to go on but all I can say is that I was taken aback by both Ana Teresa and Maria Teresa’s ingenuity and how they use art to speak and give voice to those who are voiceless in our world.

  8. Vanesa L. December 13, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    Attending Ana Teresa Fernandez’s lecture at Cornell University was a great experience . There were two exhibits that struck me the most. The first one was NanMitaNan: Haiti. I thought it was amazing that Ana Teresa was able to make sculptures out of plastic bottles she found. More importantly, the clear plastic material against the backdrop of oil lamps not only showed Ana’s ability to use the resources around her, it reflected the ghost of the beautiful architectural structures in Haiti, the lack of resources and the invisibility of Haitian people to the rest of the world. I believe that Haiti is stuck “nan mitana” or in the middle between their historic accomplishments of gaining independence in 1804 and the potential of what nation could be. Her Ecdisis:Juarez, Mexico exhibit was also very memorable . The glass figures of the children were beautiful but it made me realize the generational effects that femicides have on these children. The children are fragile but defensive just like the jagged pieces of glass that make up the sculptures. To have their mothers taken way from them without justice being served is devastating. Thus, the femicides in Juarez has serious implications for the future of Juarez.

    I thought Ana Teresa’s work was fantastic. I hope she continues to do more work involving different human rights issues around the world.

The Decolonial ImaGYMary: Working (and Writing) on My Fitness

November 19, 2012

Fulanas Con Ganas Collective. L-R: Monica Morales, Larissa M. Mercado-López (Photo Credit), Selena Navarro, Giomara Bazaldua, and Jessica Hawkins.

Fulanas Con Ganas Collective. L-R: Monica Morales, Larissa M. Mercado-López (Photo Credit), Selena Navarro, Giomara Bazaldua, and Jessica Hawkins.

By Larissa M. Mercado-López

As I type this, I stop every few minutes to pull my spine up tall, clasp my hands above my head, and slowly move side to side, gently stretching the muscles around my shoulders and latissimi dorsi, or my “lats.” I place my hands on my lower back, elbows bent, and puff out my chest—bones shift and joints pop. My 4 year-old runs up to me, asking for a spin, and I scoop up her 60- pound body and spin her dizzy. Slowly, I return to my writing position and resume working.

In Loving in the War Years, Cherrie Moraga writes, “A friend of mine told me once how no wonder I had called the first book I co-edited (with Gloria Anzaldúa), This Bridge Called My Back. You have chronic back trouble, she says. Funny I had never considered this most obvious connection … And the spot that hurts the most is the muscle that controls the movement of my fingers and hands while typing.”1 We can “read” the pain metaphorically, as the burden that is placed on women of color to write against colonialism and to forge spaces in the women’s movement; however, Moraga may very well have had repetitive stress syndrome, or a similar musculoskeletal ailment, that could have been improved with strengthening exercises.

In my dissertation that I completed in 2011, I read texts in Chicana literature to examine how mestiza mothers read the social and somatic experiences of their maternal bodies, deploying critical and often oppositional knowledges. Similarly, scholars such as Suzanne Bost and Eden Torres, and emerging graduate student scholars such as Christina L. Gutiérrez and Sara A. Ramírez, are articulating decolonizing theories of the bodies and psyches of Chicanas. But in addition to this bodywork, I’ve been consumed with another kind of bodywork: fitness.

Exercise kept me sane through three degrees and three children. Though I won’t deny that the gym has been a space of frustration—especially as I painfully cardio-ed for excessive amounts of time in my attempts to “bounce back” after my pregnancies—it has also helped me reaffirm my sense of strength. The traditionally male-dominated free weight area has become my most empowering space, where I routinely lift heavy weights to strengthen my lower back that was strained and weakened by years of writing, motherhood, and running on pavement. I delight in my growing muscles and find the task of carrying my children and books far easier. Though one reason I exercise is to maintain low levels of body fat, I am driven more by my desire to prevent injury, manage stress, and strengthen my bones and cardiovascular system.

But, I often find myself alone in the free weights area. Among those who do come, many opt for the 5-pound weights because they want to become “toned but not bulky” (never mind the fact that the average weight of a woman’s purse is 7 pounds!).

However, I don’t judge. In many ways, hegemonic (and gendered) constructions of “fitness” and “fit women” conflict with dominant constructions of Latina bodies. The cultural valorization of “womanish” curves and the masculinization of muscular bodies constrain Latinas’ exercise choices, limiting them to those that emphasize fat loss over muscle strengthening. Further, the media’s constructions of “fit women” as white, upper-class, and hyper-muscular, and the capitalist culture of fitness, with its pricey supplements and apparel, render “fitness” a financially inaccessible and time-consuming endeavor. And, when it comes down to it, men in the weight room can be downright intimidating.

While these rhetorics and images of fitness have led some Latinas to either pursue more socially accepted forms of exercise for women or to nix them all together, many still revere their maternal ancestors for their bodily strength, recalling the girth of their strong arms and legs as they carried loads of laundry, tilled the hard earth for their gardens, and lifted sleeping children off their floor and into their beds. These images of strength need to be remembered and re-embodied.

I fully acknowledge that my pursuit of the level of fitness that I desire is enabled by my privileges of income, transportation, a flexible job, the support of my husband, and the availability of day care. We need to be critical of social/structural inequalities that limit how, when, and where Latinas exercise. I’ve responded to some of these issues by blogging for my local newspaper (Fitness Cultures) and starting a free exercise group (Fulanas Con Ganas).

It’s my mission to ensure that all Latinas have the access to the resources they need, as well as the support and confidence, to pursue the level of fitness that allows them to live their best lives.


1.  Cherríe Moraga, Loving in the War Years: Lo que nunca pasó por sus labios (Boston: South End Press, 1983), v.

Larissa M. Mercado-López received her Ph.D. in English/Latina Literature from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her research interests include Chicana feminism,maternal studies, phenomenology, and rhetorics of fitness. Larissa is an adjunct instructor at UTSA for Women’s Studies and Sociology. 


  1. Anonymous  November 20, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    I just started Zumba and like it ok, but I really want to try some weights! Thanks for the motivation!

  2. Seline (Mujeres Talk Co-Moderator)  November 23, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Seline (Mujeres Talk Co-Moderator)  November 23, 2012 at 6:14 PM


    Thank you for your essay on fitness and the different ways to love and be in your body.

    I love that you experience the free weight area as an empowering space. The insights you shared remind me of Jackie Martinez’ essay on weight room semiotics, the mental intensity that accompanies brute physical force, and embodied intentionality.

    Keep up the good work that opens pathways to access.

  4. Larissa    November 26, 2012 at 9:53 PM

    Martinez and I both do phenomenology; I used her work in my dissertation 🙂

  5.  Jessica Lopez    April 22, 2013 at 8:12 PM
    As for me, I exercise because I like breaking out a sweat after a stressful day. It is enjoyable since I go to the gym with my friends. It is important to love it and not think about what other people see. It also helps me to regulate my diet and be more aware of proper nutrition.

My Shadow Beast’s Time

November 12, 2012

Photo Credit: "Our Time is Running Out 157/365" by gravity_grave on Flickr

Photo Credit: “Our Time is Running Out 157/365” by gravity_grave on Flickr

By Anonymous

I have been thinking a lot about time and its processes lately. When I took and passed the Candidacy Exam in my graduate program, time was paramount. As in most universities, departmental guidelines dictate that students in the program make timely progress to the degree. There are, however, minimal guidelines for writing the requisite three exam papers. Some said that the reading lists were to help me write the dissertation. Others told me that this exam was completely separate from my dissertation. I then couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to write about my reading lists. “Was I to integrate all 40 books and articles from one reading list into a paper? How?” I kept asking. I was unable to get a straight or clear answer about what to write. Previous students successful in advancing to candidacy did not allow the program to archive their papers as resources for future students working on their exams. Social scientist candidates in the department were willing to share their work with me, but I felt I couldn’t follow their examples because I was working with texts in the humanities.

Still, I read every day. I was determined to finish on time. I joined a writing group, and in two months, I wrote countless drafts of the first paper. The group was organized and led by a senior professor who I eventually learned did not take well to assertive feminists. One day, before a group of other graduate students, the professor asked if I had “a chip on [my] shoulder” because my writing style seemed “bitter.” I conceded that the passion behind my writing stemmed from anger prompted by relentless systemic violence. The professor had not expected my response, and he answered by saying I wouldn’t go far with my “attitude.” I smiled nervously as he initiated the class’s roar of laughter. After our session, I felt even the snowy wind was mocking me. I couldn’t run fast enough into my sister’s arms.

My subsequent anxiety about writing catapulted me into a depression. No matter how much I beckoned it, my writing voice would not come out of hiding. I had to finish these papers within four months in order to be eligible for a fellowship for those who are making “timely progress.” My inner critic wouldn’t go away: STUPID. SLOW THINKER. BAD WRITER. BAD PERSON. IDIOT. LOSER. JUST SIT DOWN! UNFOCUSED. LIMITED VOCABULARY. STOP CRYING. IMPOSTER. It was not until after I suffered a major break down that I learned I could ask for an extension without penalty. Why hadn’t anyone told me this before? Was the break down part of the process? I had been conditioned to believe that the only way I could be a “good person” was by being a “good student.” Facing my Shadow Beast, I realized my self-worth had been dependent upon my ability to produce, my colleagues’ perceptions of me, my professors’ praise, my parents’ “Good girl, m’ija,” and on someone else’s notion of “timeliness.” Western culture has us believe we are essentially flawed, we must constantly work on ourselves, and we must prove ourselves to belong. Resenting the exam process as yet another way for me to prove my worth, I refused to write until I could convince myself that there is no sinful self to redeem. Humans never fell from grace. All beings are essentially good.

Although I certainly learned in the depths of Coatlicue, I knew couldn’t stay there forever. I moved and began the healing process. I stopped thinking so much about what I had to do and what I hadn’t done and tried to focus on each present moment. I began to practice compassion toward myself including my vicious inner critic, my Shadow Beast. I learned that I couldn’t go on ignoring her. We had to dialogue. When I listened, I learned she only wanted to help me achieve that happiness I feel when I read, think, and write. I explained to her that I can’t work with unrealistic daily goals and harsh criticism used as “motivation.” She pointed out that no one taught her how to practice non-violent communication. Together we learned that time is but a construction, a historically specific concept, and we came to a truce. I was finally able to write. I finished my papers, took my exams, and passed at the right time.

I write about my struggle to underscore our continuous negotiations as Chicanas in the academy. Confessing that I embark on more writing with trepidation, I am reminded by my MALCS mentors that I must revel in this moment’s sense of accomplishment and the fact that I found ways to manage an arduous process. Yet I know I must remember my time in the depths of Coatlicue so I too can be compassionate toward my students in their times of crisis. The U.S. university system is not set up to be conducive to our “timely” progress. As a capitalist enterprise, the university embraces competition—a race against time—to produce extraordinary scholarship, thereby discouraging genuine collegiality. This system does not encourage us to satisfy our urge to “make face and heart,” or to find ourselves, by learning from one another through compassionate social interactions. For this reason, I look forward to summers during which MALCS, conversely, focuses on giving shape and meaning to our selves and community. MALCSistas remind me that there have always been philosophers, artists, scientists, and lovers of “making sense” of the world. I dream that it is possible to transform the U.S. university to meet our needs as humans. I look forward to this reemergence from what may be our collective trance in the Coatlicue State. I look forward to our inherently interlinked individual and collective experiences of triumph.


  1. Monica    November 12, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    Thank you for your words. This is definitely a process many of us go through, and yet very few talk about it. Gracias.

  2. Anonymous   November 12, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    What a “timely” piece! I was driving to my office with my inner critic saying many of the horrible words you mention. It has been a long time since I have written out of joy rather than fear. Deadlines and timelines help me to be “productive” but are sucking the life out of my voice. Thank you for such a thought-provoking piece.

  3. Unknown   November 12, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Thank you. So very much. Thank you.

  4. Anonymous   November 12, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    This is exactly how I felt a couple of days ago when I was going through my exams. Thank you so much for writing this!

  5. Anonymous   November 12, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    THANK YOU! This is exactly what I experienced.

  6. Theresa Delgadillo  November 19, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    Dear Anonymous Blog Author,
    In the classroom scene you describe, where a focus on the work and the writing would be most beneficial to all, the discussion unfortunately shifts to “correcting a person,” making an individual Latina the problem. Your honesty appears to have been alarming to those present then but shared here, in this space, it is a welcome meditation on the kind of relationships we build together in academia as well as the self-knowledge and skill you have gained in working with others and negotiating your expectations of others and self. I join in thanking you for this beautiful essay, especially the brilliant observation: “I look forward to this reemergence from what may be our collective trance in the Coatlicue State.” It’s a statement that resonates beyond academia as well as sign of the keen insight with which you have emerged from the fire. Congratulations to you! I am so very glad you will be making a difference in higher education!

  7. Anonymous   November 22, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    Dear Anonymous,
    Thank you for your essay, and speaking truth to power.
    My writing style has also been called ‘bitter,’ but by an anonymous manuscript reviewer who also asked why I was complaining about the lack of mentorship if I successfully received my Ph.D.! In other words, the lack of compassion in academia is pervasive. It is scholars like you and other MALCSistas who will make a difference

2012: A Year of Indigeneity and Indignities

November 5, 2012

Photo by Randy Bayne. From Flickr.

Photo by Randy Bayne. From Flickr.

By Adaljiza Sosa-Riddell

2012: For most of this year, I have been reading and writing about the past, present, and future of  la gente indígena de México y Centro América. I followed the news of the efforts of el Movimiento Indígena Nacional to re-establish a pluralist national democracy in México. In Sacramento, I was involved in the Zapatista Solidarity Coalition, a group dedicated to defending the Zapatistas and their revolution. But mostly I worked on my own manuscript explaining my own methods for developing a vastly different interpretation of Malintzin and her role in the conquest of México.

Immersed in my own ideas, I tried to ignore the politics of the day but found myself compelled to listen to the all-white group of men dressed in white-collar garb, who sought to be the Republican Party’s candidate for President of the USA. I came to call the longer-than-tolerable Republican primary season “the moron-athon” because of the ridiculous declarations and many factual errors made by the candidates day after day. The moron-athon turned into a brutal old-fashioned political slugfest after the respective conventions. Both parties continue to neglect the role and future of the worker in the USA. The focus on the middle class has erased the working sector, relegating the service worker to invisibility in the distribution of goods and services. Where were the voices of Hispanics, Latino/as, Mexican Americans, Chicana/os throughout the summer?  Where were the Partido de la Raza Unida, MAPA, LULAC, and all the other politicized groups with which we affiliated during the Chicano Movement years?  I know of several groups holding meetings and anniversaries, but I have not heard any plans, positions, or ideologies that emerged. The two entrenched parties continue to ignore the voices of Latinos until the very last moment because they can. Republicans and Democrats think they are the only game in town.

1960: My very first election was in 1960. It was an exciting time when I and millions of other Americans could still believe in the promise of American democracy. I was a dreamer, a believer that change would come through the electoral process. After all, I was a political science graduate student at UC Berkeley, fluent in Spanish and English, and knew politics backward and forward. I would certainly be offered a job in the JFK environment reflective of my talents. Instead, I learned women were blocked from most foreign service jobs outside of secretarial posts. What? By the end of the decade all my hopes for meaningful change within the two-party system were dashed. The few who promised change, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, were dead, felled by assassins’ bullets. I vowed: From this day forth, I shall vote no more forever. Of course, I was borrowing the words from Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce people.

For the next three decades, women in the United States of America wrote volumes, spoke out often, filling the streets of Washington D.C., New York, and San Francisco with their messages and their bodies proclaiming women’s liberation. People of color involved themselves in their own “identity power movements.” Women of color learned to negotiate multiple terrains, hopscotching among various dimensions, and speaking through scholarly works.

Back to 2012: Why then in this election year are women suffering so many indignities? Women seeking knowledge of sexuality, conception, and/or contraception are accused of being prostitutes (Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich); the concept of legitimate rape is raised and accepted by other congressional Republican candidates (Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock); indignities directed at all Latinos include offering “choices” between deportation and self-deportation, speaking loosely about electrocuting people on the borderline fence (Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Herman Cain).

Heinous indignities continue to be directed at women, particularly Latinas—and with dire consequences:

1) Violence against women on the US-Mexico borderline comes from multiple sources:coyotes, la migra, los rinches, local police, Mexican federal police, Mexican and USA drug enforcement agents, CEOs of border industries (las maquiladoras), and narco-traficantes who are well-armed and well supplied. The types of violence include rape, stalking, arresting, assault, robbery, and kidnapping.

2) Latinas, especially indigenous women, suffer negatively from official policies and values of government, organized religion, and medical professionals as well as other service providers intent upon limiting fertility. Women also rarely benefit from costly medical procedures intended to increase fertility. Issues of access to contraceptive knowledge, abortion, sterilization has begun to be well researched by Latina scholars including Elena Gutierrez, Adela de la Torre, and Angie Chabram.

3) The stigma attached to the status of single-motherhood is particularly insidious, as Gov. Romney placed the responsibility for the existence of gangs on single mothers. Governor Romney exposed his reliance on negative stereotypes for his decision-making, making this remark it in the context of speaking about needs of Latino community. “Gangs” and gang violence occur in all ethnic/racial categories, gendered settings, and economic strata.

Why do we, las mujeres, Chicanas, Latinas, Mexicanas continue suffering so many indignities, no matter on which side of the U.S.-Mexican borderline we reside?

¿Qué no nacimos iguales?
Aren’t we your partners?
Aren’t we your sisters?
Didn’t we raise you well?
Didn’t we bear and raise your children?
Haven’t we toiled in the fields a su lado?
Now that I’m educated, don’t I earn enough?
Haven’t I brought home a paycheck as meager as yours?
And now when I am educated,
Don’t I support our family in good style?
Yo como tortillas y tomo tequila, hací como tu!
Fui soldada y soldadera también
y cuidé el hogar para los soldados revolucionarios.
¿Qué no soy mujer trabajadora?
Don’t I deserve igualdad?

2012 is bound to be a momentous year with expectations ranging from mass destruction of the planet to a test as to whether or not our fractured populace can unite long enough to hand over a second term to our first elected president of mixed racial descent. I voted in 2008 and 2012 because I pay taxes, and I live here.  If Chicana/os and Latina/os are in need of perfect timing to speak out on their needs, demands, and dreams, this is it. We need to hear the voices of the workers of society. The numbers are on our side; the stars are in alignment; the Maya y Azteca elders have spoken.  SE PUEDE!!   

MALCS Founder, Adaljiza Sosa-Riddell, Ph.D., is Chicano Studies Professor Emeritus at The University of California, Davis. She lives in Los Angeles and studies politics, Chicana/o issues, and class struggle.