Stand in Solidarity with Chican@s at Cal State University of Long Beach

Conciencia Femenil

Below is a call for solidarity from Conciencia Feminil, a Chican@ student organization at Cal State University, Long Beach.  They ask for supporters to stand in solidarity with them by signing this petition.  Their facebook page is here.

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As Conciencia Femenil we ask for your support to help bring change and stand in solidarity with Chican@s at Cal State University of Long Beach.

We formed as Conciencia Femenil in the summer of 2009. We were inspired by our foremothers, Las Hijas de Cuauhtémoc, who were also students at Cal State Long Beach in 1970. Las Hijas stood up valiantly for the rights of mujeres in a Chican@ movement that though inspiring was machista and exclusionary. As a collective we decided to organize a Chicana Feminisms Conference to address the cycle of zero, or chronic erasure of marginalized communities, which includes Queer Chican@s. In 1971 M.E.Ch.A held a mock funeral procession that was a ritualized attempt to kill Las Hijas.They carried caskets and walked with candles to a makeshift graveyard with gravestones for Hijas leaders and a lynched effigy of Anna Nieto Gomez (with her name inscribed). This history has never been written nor confronted which is why we feel it has repeated itself.

The Chicana Feminisms Conference took place at CSU Long Beach from March 17-20, 2010. And we too were recently attacked with misogynist and homophobic violence. In response to an article announcing the conference, hateful homophobic and sexist attacks against the organizers and conference speakers Cherrie Moraga and Alma Lopez were displayed on our school newspaper’s website (“the daily 49er”). The homophobic slandering attacks intensified and eventually escalated into remarks that referenced an appropriation of an Aztec calling for the murder of gays and lesbians with explicit instructions as to how to administer the killings. We recognize that this is not an isolated event but is deeply intertwined with the recent hate violence at UC San Diego, UC riverside, UC Davis and Washington State.

The escalation of visible hate violence both on our campuses and communities only brings attention to the everyday violences we experience as low income, Chican@, women, women/people of color, undocumented, disabled, and queer/trans gente.
Those who do not see the violence are blinded by their privilege. We who are marginalized by the interlocking systems of oppression are forced to face the frequent wrath of violence. The ideology that silences/erases us from our communities, our curriculum and classrooms, demonizes us, scapegoats us, and keeps us out of positions of decision making power, forms the breeding ground for hate violence. The delegitimization or constant discrediting of queer, feminist, ethnic studies and queer feminist ethnic studies within academia institutionalizes our marginalization and is a form of violence itself. We recognize that the sting of a virulent heteropatriarchy lashed out at us is an attempt to undermine, silence, threaten, and intimidate our organizing. We were calling for an intervention to hold accountable a curriculum and a community that strives for liberation but falls short by refusing to see the intersections of racism, classism, heterosexism, sexism, and colonization. We will not be erased, defeated or discouraged by academic and community attempts that fail to account for the way that these system of oppression intersect.

A movement that is not down for all of us is not down for its people.

From the margins, we clearly see the connections between our disenfranchisement on campus and that faced by our communities, as well as that imposed by our communities, and we recognize that these many layers of oppression are responsible and complicit with the hate violence used against us. So we ask the for the accountability from all of the following in order to prevent further violence: Student organizations; Chican@/Latin@ Studies, Ethnic Studies, and all Departments; The School Newspaper, the University, and Chican@/Latin@ communities.

As Conciencia Femenil we ask for your support to help bring change and stand in solidarity with Chican@s at Cal State University of Long Beach.

C h i c a n @/L a t i n @  S t u d i e s

  • Change its name from Chicano/Latino Studies to Chican@/Latin@ Studies to reflect complete gender representation of all members of our community, including trans folks.
  • Address the cycle of zero, or chronic erasure, of Chicanas at CSULB, and to take the necessary steps to counteract the cycle of zero in curriculum, faculty and all functions of the department.
  • Commit to create a work, teaching and learning environment that commits to transforming the political conditions that give rise to gender and sexuality oppression and hate violence in Chican@/Latin@ communities.
  • Allocate time at every faculty meeting for students to express concerns, feedback, and needs.

S c h o o l  N e w s p a p e r ,  “ t h e  D a i l y  4 9 e r ”

  • We ask that the additional recommendations be implemented, as we believe these steps will lead to the future prevention of such violence manifesting through the school newspaper.
  • The creation of a staff position that will work ½ time on the moderation of comments and remove hate speech and ½ time will work on covering the concerns of marginalized voices on campus, including queer, women and students of color, trans, low income and undocumented/immigrant students. We ask that this position work closely with the Hispanic Journalism Association at CSULB to ensure that written content is accountable to Latin@ community.
  • A diverse staff that is representative of marginalized communities at CSULB.
  • Training of all school newspaper staff on sexual harassment, homophobia, racism, and hate speech/hate violence as well as a commitment to create a work environment and publication that commits to transforming the political conditions that give rise to oppression and hate violence.

T h e  u n i v e r s i t y ,  C S U L B  a n d  C S U  S y s t e m

CSULB promotes an environment that is complicit with the hate violence committed against us. As a state institution, and one currently intensifying its privatization, it increasingly is shutting its doors to racially and economically marginalized communities by limiting transfer students and raising fees.

We hold the university accountable to honor its full commitment to all students, including those from marginalized communities, by committing to continuing secured access for our communities, and by providing an environment that does not allow any room for violent acts/speech to exist. Several contingents of marginalized communities on campus including Chican@/Latin@ and GLBTQI have requested the administration to fund and support the recognition of task forces and commissions to address and better represent our concerns in the campus community and these requests have been denied. In order to better prevent future violence at CSULB, we ask the university to:

  • Immediately implement a Chican@/Latin@ Commission and GLBTQI Task Force and other commissions for marginalized students in order to better account for existing inequalities and create a university that is hospitable to our communities and not to the violence committed against us.
  • Provide secure and robust funding for a Queer Studies Program, for Chican@/Latin@ Studies, Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies.
  • Fund a Fulltime staff position in the Daily 49er that will work ½ time on the moderation of comments and remove hate speech and ½ time will work on covering the concerns of marginalized voices on campus, including queer, women and students of color, trans, low income and undocumented/immigrant students.
  • Include information regarding resources available to marginalized students on campus at the Student Orientation Advising Training (SOAR) We ask that you specifically include all the resource centers as part of the University’s on campus tour. We also ask that you include information about Majors/Minors in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Chican@/Latin@ Studies and all Ethnic Studies.
  • Considering the recent deaths of 2 female students to domestic violence and the fact that college age women are most at risk for sexual assault, we ask that SOAR trainings include a required training component on sexual harassment, violence against women, racism and homophobia.
  • Implement an on-going assessment of campus hate speech and violence.
  • Require all campus auxiliaries’ affiliated with the university be held up to University standards and policies regarding discrimination and violence.
  • Add more general education courses and capstone requirements from Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Queer Studies.
  • Acknowledge our voices, concerns, and complaints regarding these requests and the demands put forth by students on March 4th.

S t u d e n t  O r g a n i z a t i o n s

Being part of student organizations, we have the responsibility to create a safe space for all students. At times, we have not felt safe in our student organizations. Many of us thought and even feared that the hate comments might have originated in our own student organization, Raza. We ask that careful assessment of the organization’s historical and current legacies of racism, sexism, heteronormativity, and classism be applied. We also ask for changes from ASI who oversees all student orgs, and for all student orgs to consider implementing the following:

  • Required training for all members on sexual harassment, gender violence, homophobia, racism, ally training for undocumented students, and ableism.
  • We ask ASI to allow an organization the option to have a template for a collective/non-hierarchal/alternate organizational structure. We advise student orgs. to consider these forms instead of hierarchical ones. We cannot use as Audre Lorde stated “the masters tools to dismantle the masters house” if we want to move forward and pursue greater justice in our student orgs. If we want to avoid abuse of power by one group over another in our orgs, it is important that we build equality and practice it in all of our work, including our structure.
  • Our M.E.Ch.A. and Raza organizations have internalized a colonial politic of heteropatriarchy that keeps mujeres and queer members silently oppressed and out of key leadership roles. For this we call for immediate attention and assessment to decolonize our organizing spaces, and in turn create a space where all members of our community feel safe, respected, and valued. We should recognize that we hurt each other very deeply through the language we use. As Cesar Chavez said, “Our language is the reflection of ourselves. A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers.” These student organizations reflect our families, to see true structural change we first have to begin making our families more just and peaceful. We ask all genders to hold ourselves accountable and call out and challenge heteropatriarchy in our org.
  • We ask our student orgs. to create a process of accountability when there is abuse of power/oppression. This process would allow those responsible the opportunity to account for their actions and transform them. The process would also outline a way to provide support for those that have been attacked, and to support their self-determination. Lastly, the process would outline any steps that should be taken in order to commit the organization to eliminating oppression.

C h i c a n a @/ L a t i n @  C o m m u n i t i e s

In our communities it is important to spread love, and keep an open-mind for each other. In order for this to happen we have to hold communities accountable. In the westernized culture we are encouraged to look at everything through an individualistic lens. By valuing communal support, spaces will give marginalized groups agency, and voices will not be erased from history. It is important to note the layers in which we as Queer Chican@s are continuously living in fear. We are constantly thrown language and actions that are meant to make us feel deviant for loving and being who we are. Homophobia, racisms, and sexism are socially instilled in us. These actions are reinforced by the fact that our communities are repressing any conversations of ending the injustices, and therefore these violent acts are justified as innate. It is important to educate our communities about anti-violence, and in turn encourage them to spread the word. Once our communities come together to strategically end violence against all marginalized communities there will be a space for dialogue for liberation and love in its true sense. As Cherrie Moraga once said, it is time for a queerer, more feminist version of the movimiento. A movement that is not down for all of us is not down for its people.

Sign the petition to endorse this statement.

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