Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cal State Long Beach Hosts the 2nd Annual Chicana/Latina Feminisms Conference

Last weekend, I attended an awesome free conference at California State University, Long Beach. With the help of the Gender, Women and Sexualities Studies Student Association, our FMF affiliate group, the Conciencia Femenil hosted the 2nd annual Chicana/Latina Feminisms Conference: Joteando Por Vida! Para Nunca Mas Nos Vuelvan A Borrar! This conference focused on intersectional identities and addressed issues like: sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, heteropatriarchy, transphobia, reproductive justice, access to education, colonization, ableism, and more. The Conciencia Femenil's goal of the conference was to "reclaim our lost stories and tackle our intersectional identities by building bridges in our communities and creating spaces for marginalized voices by entering our voces de joteria to resist our chronic erasure". The conference featured a panel of notable chicana feminists like Maylei Blackwell, Antonia Castañeda, and Dionne Espinoza to name a few.

The history panel was powerful as it told the stories of the Chicano Student Movement and the Chicano Power Movement from people who were there. The first panel laid a foundation to understand the history behind the chican@ movement. Chicana feminists shared their stories of learning to work for social justice in an egalitarian way as they confronted sexism in their fight for workers rights, immigrant rights, and access to education. The panelists shared personal stories about being feminists in a machismo culture; integrating the voices of women and queer folks was a struggle within the movement.

The conference had one too many awesome workshops to choose from that discussed sexuality, media justice, political art, gender based violence, and more. Among the workshops, organizations like Cucci, xQsí (Porque Sí) Magazine, Dignidad Rebelde, and The OC Dream Team were present.

I was able to sit in on an awesome workshop, "Distorted Images, Distorted Lives" with xQsí (Porque Sí) Magazine. The workshop was led by writers from the brand new Latin@ LGBT magazine. The workshop discussed the absence of a queer voice in Chican@/Latin@ culture in media and how to change that through media. One of my favorite moments from this workshop was when Porque writers asked, "Where are the happy queers?" to point to the fact that queer people are almost never portrayed in a positive light. A majority of the queer faces and stories we get in the media are of upper class, white people. Much of the conference focused on issues of erasure and histories that have been silenced; the workshop made me think of the absence of queer voices in Chican@ history. This workshop was one of the few spaces that I've seen a dialogue about intersectional identities as young, chican@, immigrant, trans, poor, bilingual, queers with stories to tell. My mother sat next to me in this workshop and I know we definitely gained solidarity in talking openly about my queer identity as a Chicana person. I was proud that my mom spoke out and sat next to me as many of the attendees shared personal stories of their parents reaction to their coming out. Keep an eye out for the first issues of xQsí (Porque Sí) Magazine!

The second workshop I attended was called "I <3 Queer Doula-ing!". The discussion covered several topics including the history of queer birth, alternative birth options, and DIY gynecology. At the Feminist Majority Foundation, we care A LOT about reproductive justice and individual autonomy, and theres nothing more feminist than having a child through natural birthing methods. Certified sexological bodyworker, doula, and DJ Pati Garcia led the presentation about what it means to be a queer doula. I enjoyed this workshop so much because doulas, especially queer doulas, and queer families are radically challenging the heteropatriachical family structure. I left this workshop with a copy of A New View of A Woman's Body, a zine about DIY gynecology, and a zeal to become a doula.

Apart from the panels, workshops, and discussions, I also met a lot of great people. Check out this interview with CSULB student Gabriel as he talks about why chicana feminism is important to him!

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