Sylvia Rae Rivera. Dolores Huerta. Gloria Anzaldua.
The legacies of these women should rival those of the most recognizable feminist heroines. They have helped to shape our world and yet they’re rarely known and even less likely to be celebrated; outside of Latina circles. They fought as long and as hard as white feminists (often right alongside them) and yet… Do you know their names? Do you recognize their portraits?
“Portrait of A Feminista” has been 4 months in the making. It was born out of last November’s #SecretLivesOfFeministas twitter conversation addressing the absence of Latina voices in mainstream feminism and the unique struggles faced by feministas. Read about the twitter movement that led to this series.
These portraits are an opportunity for feministas to share their personal experience and create dialogue around the ways Latin heritage and feminist culture intersect.. They will express why they’ve chosen to be a part of the #SecretLivesOfFeministas conversation and how they’re leading in their own community as a Latina Feminist. This is our chance to break barriers, amplify voices and connect stories. I will post a new portrait continuously until the submissions stop coming. Add your voice today.
Our first portrait…
It was the second semester of my freshman year of college that my journey to self-identifying as an AfroLatina began. I was pledging for my sorority, Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc., and we were strongly encouraged to research our cultural heritage. I realized that I carried hatred towards myself and skin tone for all my life up to that point. I researched anti-Haitianismo and this made me feel validated in my feelings that the Dominican culture had racist undertones to it. This then led to my exploration of how people of the African Diaspora have internalized racism to the point of self-destruction. With my findings that my personal experience has a historical context, I decided to write a book, Hija De Mi Made, about my life and share my research so that I may help the collective heal the wound of self-hatred. I am transitioning these days to identifying as Afro-descendant because I understand that I am a part of the African Diaspora. Mostly though, I call myself Afro-Dominicana. The Dominican Republic is a colonizer name for Quisqueya, which is up to now the original name of the eastern part of the island. Adding the “Afro” makes me feel like I am acknowledging the entire story of how I came to be. I identify as a womanist, not a feminist. I got this word from Alice Walker’s own definition of womanist as a term that is specific to a woman of color. Though I respect feminism, I am also weary of the racism that excludes my experience from the mainstream feminist conversation. I feel that my voice speaking out on generational trauma, as well as health care disparities for women of color in the United States and globally, is important because it is not often the concern of white feminists. Conversely, being a part of the #SecretLivesOfFeministas is important to me because it is a collective of Latina women seeking and claiming their own definition of feminism. By virtue of using the word “feminista” as a nod to our colonized native tongue, we are using the oppressor’s tool to make a statement – that we define our own reality and self-determination. It is a step in transforming our own movement that addresses our unique needs as Latinas in the United States. Currently, my method of resistance is being a reproductive justice activist. I use my writing and journalism skills to share information on well women care and maternal health. I am focusing on the health of mothers and infants because women of color are dying at an alarming rate, are experiencing a higher rate of prenatal, intrapartum and postpartum complications and are being neglected by the medical establishment. I am training to be a certified professional midwife to bring knowledge to my community in the northeast tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. My goal is to provide out of hospital care to women of color during their childbearing years, become a reproductive health educator for adolescent women while learning how to influence systemic changes. I am also fundraising to be able to finish my education here at Maternidad La Luz. We need more midwives of color to serve our communities and we all need to contribute to making this happen.
Support Ynanna in her dream: http://www.gofundme.com/thesewatersrundeep
Ynanna Djehuty (also known as Carmen Mojica) is an Afro-Dominicana born and raised in the Bronx. She is a writer, midwife, doula and reproductive health activist. The focus of her work is the empowerment of women and people of the African Diaspora, specifically discussing the Afro-Latina Identity. She utilizes her experience as a birth doula to raise awareness on maternal and infant health for women, highlighting the disparities in the healthcare system in the United States for women of color. She is studying the art of midwifery to continue to advocate for women and their overall well-being.
Are you a feminista and want to add your portrait? Know a feminista whose story needs to be heard? Contact AnaYelsi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget to use #secretlivesoffeministas when sharing this series on facebook and twitter. Help to keep us connected.
Secret Lives of Feministas – browneyedamazon.com
Latina feministas unite at #SecretLivesofFeministas – feministing.com
The Color of Toxicity – vivalafeminista.com
The Lily Allen Video Fail Is All About Color – latinorebels.com