Xingona

 

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“When I am unveiled
this time, I dazzle
the mouth. Crown the tongue.
Cradle the sob of waterfalls &
summon every child. Ven
aquí, todos. Escuchame,
finally. Pull me from
the deadest root & watch
it ripen in the good air.
Blessings to all parts of earth
whom are forgotten. Blessings
to the splintered leaves, the dark
stars, the sunken branch. Here
is the calling forth, the new
beginning. Yes, I am old
& debuting fresh wind; yes,
I am young with the pulse
of raucous citizens –
recycled poem, shred of
warrior past – I am the hollered
rush of the Rio Grande, the
feet caught between two
lands. I am the omitted
passage; the forbidden water,
the hieroglyph, the non-border.
Walk me along your name until
I become you, niño de los indios,
de los árboles, del cielo. Yo olvido
nada. & my memory is yours, too.
A ver. Tus manos son los mismos
a miyo. I am closer to you than
even death. Mirame, resurrected
in Coyolxauhqui fractured pieces.
I measure the length of legends.
I swim with ancient grace.
I am a red string around
the ankle of history,
holding together my children
in my splendid mouth.”
-Ariana Brown

Soy el fruto de la lengua prohibida
El fruto de los espíritus olvidados, y de los rostros sin cara
Mi sangre no es azul pero es la sangre de los héroes de nuestra tierra
Sangre mexica, mexicana, y americana corre por mis venas
Soy la magia morena en el aire que intoxica a los colonialistas
Soy la pesadilla del opresor, el recuerdo vivo que los persigue día y noche
Soy de mi madre, y abuelita
Soy de mujeres xingonas y luchadoras
Soy de su sudor y sufrimiento pero también de sus sonrisas y carcajadas
Soy el puente que conecta mis raíces con el reflejo en el espejo en el amanecer
Soy magia morena
-Arely Barrera

 

Meeting #17 12/03/16

My aesthetic was inspired by my new favorite artist Princess Nokia in her new video Brujas that pays homage to the goddess Yemaya. I love Princess Nokia because she is the first artist I ever heard to express Taíno native culture which is indigenous Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands. I love Princess Nokia because she is unapologetic, embraces her roots and a role model to latinx youth and other youth of color that continue to work hard and rise like roses through concrete. Her music and her message reassures the ancestral power and light I have within myself and always pumps me up to accomplish my goals each day. 

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Today #BrownInChicago decided to reflect and write about our experience two weeks ago  photo shoot that focused on evoking our indigenous ancestry. I am of Puerto Rican descent on my maternal side and wanted to channel a look that resonates with my spiritually. I wanted to pay tribute to Yemaya, who is a diosa from South Western African Yoruba religion. She is called an Orisha and is the mother of all Orishas totaling 14 Yoruba gods and goddesses. Santeria , which translates to way of the saints, originated from West Africa, and more commonly spread during the Transatlantic Slave Trade and was expressed as part of Yorba/Cuban Afro-Caribbean culture. Santeria promises wisdom and power in dealing with life’s hardships through a combination of practical and oral traditions.

My mother prayed to Yemaya as her favored orisha in times of need for strength and need of protection from trauma and misogyny she experienced while ending an abusive relationship with my father and she moved me away from our family to Miami for safety. When he was later arrested and deported we lost almost all our resources and child support and my mother had to start again on her own. Yemaya is a strong source of maternal energy for protection and tenacity young mother have to channel to raise their children with little resources and support. I admired my mother growing up seeing how hard she worked, took pride in her bright blue eyeshadow and grinning smile. Tonight I invited her to teach me how to do my makeup like her signature look to embody the diosa named Yolanda.

For as long as I remember she always wore blue eyeshadow that brings out her big cafe eyes and painted her lips fiery red.  Inherit my gift of empathy and healing from diosa because it is the gift my mother bestowed upon me. We are resilient against life’s waves that attempt to drown and stifle our voices and dreams. As my mom painted my face she told me about how much she loves to wear blue because it’s a color so many women shy away from with make up (myself included). To my surprise I looked into the mirror and saw the ferocity and gentleness I see in my own mothers eyes.

We danced to Aguanile by Hector Lavoe y Willie Colon is about highlighting Santeria’s African roots, with a typical folk verse of the Festival of the Cross, the song has a small verse is interpreted by Lavoe in Greek ,”Kyrie eleison”, popular custom among the natives, dating back hundreds of years. giphyShe attempted to teach me more moves to dance to the song but laughed and said you can’t teach the dance you just have to feel the music and let the dancing come naturally within you.  I closed my eyes and imagined myself on a warm days in Miami as a kid dancing in the living room with my mom. I may not have the best rhythm but I like to feel music and let go. Tonight daughters of Yemaya we thank you diosa for your strength to keep me afloat, and your currents to guide my path.

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Throughout this project I have been able to center my identity to my brownness and connect with my native and African roots more. As a social work graduate student I’m seeking to be a healer and help provide therapeutic services to alleviate generational trauma and build self awareness. I owe my skills of empathy as a gift Yemaya has shared for me to heal others and to proudly serve as a bold Latina among a field that is dominated by white women. In a discussion with #BrownInChicago students many of the young women discussed how hard it was growing up to find positive Latinx role models to celebrate against the saturation of sexist, patriarchal and Eurocentric values. We shared stories of burning and bleaching the kinks in our hair to appease desires of straight blonde compliance. Shielding our skin that from the sun that illuminates the richness in our melanin, but we were socialized to see ourselves as shadows. The gift of this project is that I am feeling more beautiful and grounded each day with other youth as we journey together to de-center whiteness and grow together.

 

Meeting #15 11/19/2016

Lily Be Storytelling Workshop and Photo Journalism Workshop Diosa Latinx Photoshoot: Honoring our ancestors and indigeneity

We began this morning with a passage from  Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence  is personal account of an indigenous Australian family’s experiences as members of the Stolen Generation. The erasure of a person’s culture is stripping people of their power. Colonist use this technique to make you feel ashamed for keeping traditions alive whether that is through language, music, religion, or clothes. The these things is what protects our energy and keep us grounded to our ancestral power. This power are secret songs, recipes, dances, prayers, and wishes that we used to survive erasure.

We asked students around the table their thoughts about the reading and many stories resonated with one another’s similar experiences.

Violet: the reading reminded me of the erasure of culture and I feel sad that there are things about my culture that I will ever know or known it was lost. I feel guilty at times that my attempts to learn Spanish or more about Puerto Rican or Colombian culture is a mere caricature of what I try to embrace. But I have to be easy on myself because the goal of colonization is to make me forget my past or leave to responsibility for myself to uncover my history. I am grateful to not have to explore and connect on my own and with the support of this space,

Many other agreed for feeling guilty about their spanglish but we had to stop to check ourselves and as a reminder that the Spanish language is a colonizer language and we do not know the tongues of our maternal native ancestor.

Aide: I feel like instead there is now a shift within our generation in comparison to our past generations that had to assimilate to survive. Now we digging up our buried cultures and history so we do not forget. In order to survive we must remember our past.

Eduardo: This passage reminded me about the Korean exchange program at his High School and how he stood up for his fellow exchange student and checked a teacher for scolding the exchange students for speaking Korean and not English. He connected that experience to being young and learning English in elementary school and also being scolded for not speaking English. When you police language around students that are in their right to speak to what is comfortable to them and made me feel safe when I wanted to be understood.

Arely: I want to keep speaking Spanish alive in my family because it makes me sad that my cousins refuse to speak Spanish. I am taking extra classes to improve my reading and writing in Spanish because I think my language is beautiful.

It was revealed within a few other reflections in the room that many students had a similar experience of being forced into speech therapy services or put in low comprehensive courses Spanish was their first language and they were still learning English. Offering the wrong referral services can highly impact the self-esteem of a young student who is made to feel their Spanish is a barrier. img_2888
The remainder our meeting was spent split into two groups. Students with Lily Be who was crafting their stories and students in our Diosa Latinx photo shoot. Towards the end of our meeting we all came together for an impromptu bruja circle photo opt. I never felt so fierce, magical and strong while hand and hand with my sisters. All dope Latina women with different strengths and experiences. All between us centuries of beauty and light we share within our blood through our ancestors.  

Meeting #13 11/5/2016

[Meeting #13] 11/5/2016

History made us. We will not eat ourselves up anymore. We are whole.” Rosario Morales and Aurora Levins Morales- Ending Poem

We began our meeting last week revisiting a poem we read during our first meetings this past summer that was written by mother and daughter Rosario and Aurora Morales. This poem unpacks how their diasporic identity is rooted in colonization and indigeneity. While expressing the difficulty to connect with the fragments of our fractured ancestry. History made us glue together the pieces of narratives that were suppressed, ignored and overwritten by colonization and supremacy. We hunger for truth, connection and understanding of these untold tales that were fed to us by institutional structures. Together we nourish and fill ourselves with the experience to grapple with knowledge and replenish the erasure of our history until we are whole.

Today we hosted three guest in anticipation to blend our lenses and understanding of Latinx identity throughout this project. A geneticist, Cultural Anthropologist/Historian, and a Social Work informed Genealogist provided workshops to help us unpack the “makeup of our brownness”. It is important to have three different professional disciplines to challenge and demonstrate how our constructed knowledge is shaped by our lived experiences and the framework in which we like to explore our Latinx identity.

We began with a Mexican native geneticist named Dr. Noe De La Sancha. He discussed biodiversity and contextualized the origins of the earth, homo sapiens, and how our notions of race is socially constructed. It was very meaningful personally to be taught by a Latinx scientist because my educational experience as child had limited exposure to predominantly male, white instructor for math and science courses. As a young girl I always dreamed of becoming a scientist because it was the subject I thrived the most in up into college.

At one point while reviewing natural selection, I blurted “survival of the fittest” because it was the mnemonic phrase I connected with while learning about Darwinism in high school. Dr. De La Sancha laughed and reassured that natural selection doesn’t imply this notion of “survival of the fittest because, “evolution isn’t necessarily the survival of the fittest but survival of those who adapt to current conditions.” The phrase actually derives from Herbert Spencer who coined the phrase, after reading Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Spencer drew parallels between his own economic theories and Darwin’s biological ones. Spencer states, “This survival of the fittest, which I have here sought to express in mechanical terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called ‘natural selection’, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.”

This ideology within the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was used to justify political conservatism, imperialism, and racism and to discourage intervention and reform. This helped informed eugenics movements and promoted by the Nazi party in their quest to sustain a superior race and eliminate those who do not share the traits and identities of white supremacy. Social Darwinism in reality is all of life is constantly trying to catch up to fluctuations in our environment. We are resilient beings striving to adapt through socially constructed barriers and ideologies that are reinforced in our modern day textbooks and consumed by our youth. We must resist, re-write and challenge these notions for our survival.

Cultural Anthropologist/Historian Dr. Jesse Mumm, presented on Biocultural Us, which discussed the migration, origins and genes of homo sapiens. The lecture began by discussing our migration patterns from Africa and how climate change shaped our paths for adaptation and survival. Within the 1800’s “five races” were created and supported by U.S and European scientist who determined distinct biological races by skull size and phenotypic traits such as skin, nose size and hair type/color. The social construction of race is inherently problematic beyond the inaccuracy of the scientific findings but used to inform racist ideologies and practices.

Biology and culture intersect through our generational experiences and have deeply shaped the outcomes of those who are polarized as dominant “white” or other. Although we understand among humans there are no biological differences between races, the legacy of racism is widespread and detrimental. For instance, Dr. Mumm explained how up until the 1870’s African Americans were first documented by their names rather than as property items. In 2016, racism still shapes legislation, resources and the polarization between the dominate culture vs marginalized identities is felt so deeply during our Presidential election. By learning how society and culture is highly informed by the intersection of race, law and power we can begin unlearn to decolonize these institutionalized structures and resources.

Kerry Cochrane is our resident Genealogist who uses Social Work to inform her practice. During our time with Kerry we were able to unpack many of the questions we had since the end of the summer when our students received their DNA results that were collected a few months ago. Our start was slow because many students either did their own research upon receiving their results and others did not know what questions to ask because the DNA results report is very overwhelming and heavy with information. The questions that were asked wanted more information of what are haplogroups or what it mean to be “broadly East Asian or European”? Overall, it was fascinating to learn more in depth about our genetic breakdown and to process the magnitude legacies.

Meeting # 12 10/29/2016

Agenda: 

1) Tell us something you learned about an indigenous community in your family’s state in Mexico, Puerto Rico or Colombia, Ecuador. Ideally close to where your family is from. Tell us something your learned about them from your family or from Wikipedia.
2) Bring an item (clothing, textiles, picture, clay figures, jewelry etc) that represents this group that you may have around your house. (Or take a pic of it if your parents won’t let you).


Share on these two points for about five minutes.

Meeting #11 10/22/2016

Agenda:

  • Opening Liturgy by Ijeouma Umebinyu
    • Check in : How are you and what’s 1 beauty you’d add to this poem?
  • Purpose: 3 month check in & moving forward
      • What have been some of the most valuable experiences / lessons / trainings / workshops?
      • What do you wish to learn more about?
      • What do you wish we spent more time doing?
  • Decisions
    • -Small documentary- DNA video, what did you identify before your results, what changed since learning your results, and how does that impact you?
      • What did you identify before your results?
      • How do others perceive you and how does that shape you?
      • What were your results?
      • What surprised you? And how did that change your perception of your identity?
      • Why is identity important?
      • How are we framing this: being indigenous and proud about it, undue internalized racism in Latinx culture, We are happy to,
      • What does it mean to be indigenous, what does it mean to be afro-latinx?
      • What do you love about being latinx?
      • Want to be in the documentary: Janet, Arely, Enrique, Eduardo, Diane, Doris, Bianca
      • *Group interview,
    • -Family Trees:
      • Barriers: Parents just not telling them, other family members live far away, small village–there wasn’t a lot of information (San Miguel , Guerrero), names of people change, grandparents died early on Dad’s side, dead ends with Dad side because of a family murder not even sure of names, my mom’s side I don’t have a relationship with their dad’s side
      • Genogram – this is me, this is parents with narrative about relationships, names and dates and places.
      • Individual meetings- what do you know about the brick wall is and what are the regions?
      • Three stations: expression, interviews, family history/genogram
    • History:
      • Possible upcoming sessions:
        1. Native Nations in Latin America and then some on US tribal identifications- 6 yes votes
        2. Mexico by state – 6 yes votes / 1 no
        3. Gender and Mestizage/ Mulata – 4 yes votes
        4. Human Evolution / population variants- 200,000 years of homospaiens, 5000 years of white skin (freckles are genetic mutation from when dark skin was becoming light skin)1 yes, 2 no
        5. Razas and Castas in Latin America – 4 yeses
        6. Global race mixing– 3 yeses
        7. Interview Methods (trouble talking to your parents) Best practices for getting folks to talk, keep it going, transcribing – zero votes
        8. Historical archives (crates of photos and documents on Chicago’s neighborhood) -NO votes
        9. Development & Migration / Bracero Program / NAFTA 3 yeses
    • -Story-
      • -documentation (NoDAPL, Ancestry, Chicago Migration, Decolonizing)
        1. Writing poetry, some performing, photography with vignettes (3 votes), handmade paper, writing piece, 5 page essay
      • Second City, Klonsky’s House: (Doris, Arely, Eduardo, Diane)
      • -Scheduling
  • -Closing question
    • Ultimately, what do you think our final set of “product / presentation” should before yourself, your family, Chicago?

Look up: Emory and Stanford studies about resilience and knowing your stories.

 

Weekly Assignments: Come prepared to be interviews by DePaul Students