“Sacar la voz”

Sacar la Voz” – Ana Tijoux

This is all against my nature, this whole whole feelings thing… I don’t cry, or talk about my emotions… Or at least I didn’t. Up until recently, my only means of expression was movement; my dance and bgirl persona were what kept me safe for so long. This was problematic because there isn’t much room for vulnerability in that universe… At least not in the way I chose to manifest the culture that I love so fiercely.

         “Hip-hop, this thing we love that loves us back, is our lingua franca.”
                                                                                                 Raquel Cepeda, Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina

I refused to look like a “girl doing break dancing”, it was my primary objective to appear as one of the guys, to disappear into that haze of intimidating ego and bravado. This was my perspective on being a female in general… I felt unsafe, weak, less-than. I chose from a very young age to never concern myself with the things other girls were doing, liking, interested in… more so I grew to disdain them the more I was told they were my inevitable destiny.

Nylda bebe

Since losing my father in his earthy presence a few months ago, I feel more alone than ever.. less understood than I thought possible. We were as intense as each other… Pouring over at the brim with conviction and passion. Without his camaraderie, inspiration and readiness to provide insightful and powerful guidance; I am more in limbo spiritually than I have ever been.

I’ve thrown myself into the heavy task of analyzing and attempting to discard my character defects…
I am prideful. I have a difficult time with accepting my lack of control…perhaps it is because I fear the pain of instability, emotional turmoil, psychological mayhem..
I try to counter the roller-coaster by humbling myself.. staying steady learning and absorbing knowledge…
It takes the edge off of my existential predicament… sometimes.

On the bright side of this universe my papi’s passing has realigned me.

It has given me the much needed swift kick in the culo and the purpose I needed to improve my quality of life. I am part of his legacy… and I cannot leave this existence without at least doing it in the full values, morals and spirit that we both held so close to our souls… which, I more often than not forgot to live by. That has now begun to change.

My every day is a marathon.
Every word to pass my lips carefully thought out.
My behavior constantly reflected upon to be able to improve the person I am, for myself and the contribution I release into my circle of people I love and would defend with my life.

Every day I have the opportunity to be softer – not passive…
To be more vulnerable – not weak…
To be more grateful – not co-dependent…
To be clear about my boundaries – not violent or reactive …
 
It’s a fuckin’ 24/7 job.
 
 

B Girl

Lady Noyz


 
Guest Contributor: Nylda Gallardo-Lopez aka “lady Noyz” : LatinX, bruxa bgirl, spiritual gangsta, mentor, art educator, hip hop soldier, “Tdot’s 1st lady of the dance cipher”

The Art of War – El Arte de la Guerra

Nylda back

Nylda con su papa

There is a part of the fabric that is me that I used to believe needed to be ripped in shreds and torn out of me so that I could create a version of myself that could exist in this world. I have fought consciously against it to have some semblance of control, to not be what I grew up seeing as weak and dependent. I have been told it damaged me, told to seek supports; to not let it continue, to not this “cycle of dependency ” manifest within my family unit. When you are told so often that you are damaged, it is inevitable that it will become your brand. You will begin to question your choices and when you question yourself how can you live with anything but a passion for seeking out comfort in the outside world. There is no peace in your heart. No love for self.

As a child, in an ideal scenary, we grow in the warmth of our parents love… but for many reasons and countless circumstances I gradually began to feel invisible.. unheard…devalued.
….when our needs arent met as children, as young women, we seek out that comfort and validation from outside sources and remedies. In my case, it not only became a desperate mission, it also manifested in a volatile rage….a spewing venom for the injustice of continuously choosing people to come into my life that were not only incapable of fulfilling my emotional needs, but where masterful at confirming my core beliefs that I was not worthy of anything love-ly.

As a very young girl I was too conscious…
dangerously empathetic… turbulently sensitive.
Some of my earliest memories of my papi was sitting with him in our living room as he played me music of Victor Jara, Inti Illimani, Illapu…(I was about 5 or 6 yrs old… they were records)… and tearfully explained to me in detail how him and my mom were ripped from their patria… severed from any and all family they had. They had no option in this displacement, it was leave or die.

I have collided…
face first into my rock bottom that stings like steady, hefty doses of salt in a gaping wound. Where the pain is so ferocious  but freeing at the same time; liberating because of its familiarity.
My propensity for chaos has given me what I was always attracting… crisis.

“I dont run from the pain I run towards it…” Jay-z

Although a little hit of oxygen would be welcome… some anaesthetic to take the edge off the agony that rattles in every cell of my being.

This grief, and mourning and PTSD is no joke. I am in a perpetual state of hyper-vigilance.. it is what I consider my ninja mode… always ready for war – exhaustingly aware of everything.

“aprendi tragarme la depresión con cerveza…” – Calle 13

…”I’m good.” ; I tell myself and the select few other humans I rarely confide in. The reality of the situation is that one can keep frontin’ like everything is madd cool and copecetic, but your body will eventually be like “YO!” … It will impatiently want to point out that all that is going on right now has direct correlation to fact that I am not feeling my feelings.  I am fully not dealing…

I am at war with myself.

Nylda Gallardo-Lopez aka “lady Noyz”

Guest Contributor: Nylda Gallardo-Lopez aka “lady Noyz” : LatinX, bruxa bgirl, spiritual gangsta, mentor, art educator, hip hop soldier, “Tdot’s 1st lady of the dance cipher”

Querida comunidad,

 
This is an open letter to the University of Toronto’s Sexual and Gender Diversity Department and anyone else who is organizing vigils and failing to center Queer and Trans Latinx voices.

We would like to acknowledge the work you have put towards organizing the Orlando Memorial: An Act of Solidarity (U of T, St. George Campus). Your event description clearly stated that “[t]his event will be a space for U of T to come together as a community to grieve and remember those lost to anti-LGBTQ+ violence. We will reflect on this tragic event together and unite in solidarity to celebrate LGBTQ+ communities in Toronto and beyond”. However, the event went on without having any LGBTQI Latinx speakers reflecting on the impact this has caused to our communities on Turtle Island. As the majority of the victims were Latinx, centering our voices is a crucial part of remembering. Let us not whitewash the tragedy. This paradox between uniting in solidarity without representation of all affected communities results in an erasure of LGBTQI Latinx voices and experiences. Erasure is harmful, invisibility heightens vulnerability.

We are glad that Black Lives Matter Toronto and the Muslim Chaplaincy were both present and speaking at this event. Understanding the intersectionality at play around transphobia, biphobia, homophobia, racism and Islamophobia are key. This was a hate crime that affected racialized communities. This was a hate crime on “Latin Night” at Pulse.

Therefore, let it be known that the saying “nothing about us, without us” is now, more than ever, an important one to follow. There are local and grassroots organizations working with Latinx communities; the Latin American Queer Education Project (LAQEP), the Latin American Education Network (LAEN) and MUJER, and there are Latinx communities and hubs within the University of Toronto. MUJER is incredibly disappointed at the lack of representation at the memorial – a place where LGBTQI Latinx folks’ death was hyper-visible, our voices were made invisible. Don’t only remember us when we are dead, recognize our livelihoods.

We welcome future collaboration with the University of Toronto and its many departments working to ensure representation through culturally safe(r), trauma-informed, anti-oppressive and anti-racist frameworks can be done in a meaningful way.

 

Queer and Trans Latinx folks exists, we are here and have always been. Estamos aquí.

 

Gracias.
MUJER Board of Directors

 

MUJER at Dyke March
(MUJER, LAQEP, LAEN and the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre, Dyke March 2015)

 

CONTEST ALERT!

Hasta el 25 de abril, you could win 1 of 3 pair of tickets to Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.

Para participar; renew or get a new MUJER membership!

  • Tickets for premiere of screenings for:
    • Southwest of Salem: It excavates the nightmarish persecution of four ‪#‎Latina‬ lesbians wrongfully convicted of assaulting two little girls during the ‘Satanic sexual abuse panic’ of the 80’s and 90’s in the United States. bit.ly/1LU9t7i
    • The Infinite Flight of Days: With laughter, tears and an unbridled passion for life, eight women of different ages and backgrounds in a small Colombian village celebrate their rich cultural heritage and stories of love, loss and the wisdom of womanhood. bit.ly/1RwuORc
    • Ovarian Psychos: A new generation of women of color in East Los Angeles are redefining identity and building community through a raucous, irreverently named bicycle crew: The Ovarian Psychos Cycle Brigade. bit.ly/1SCisti

 

May the odds be ever in your favour! ‪#‎HotDocs16‬

 

#HotDocs16

Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter TO and #BLMTOtentcity

On March 20th, Black Lives Matter Toronto Coalition organized a peaceful protest at Nathan Phillips Square to speak out against anti-Black racism in the city including state violence, the debasing of AfroFest, and the recent SIU decision not to charge the officers accountable for the death of Andrew Loku.

As an anti-racist, intersectional feminist Latin American local organization, with a strong Afro-Latinx community, MUJER stands in solidarity with the organizers of Black Lives Matter Toronto Coalition, those at #BLMTOtentcity and all those supporting near and far. Thanks to the strength of those involved, the peaceful protest is still going strong after more than 24 hours on the streets with the help of supporters, particularly the solidarity between Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.

In spite of several violent attempts by Toronto Police to break #BLMTOtentcity, protesters are staying strong and resilient – singing to keep their spirits up, while community comes through with blankets, and warm clothing to replace the tents destroyed by police in riot gear. Anti-Black racism, police brutality, and violence on Black communities is inexcusable.

Black communities including Afro-descendants from the Latin American diaspora face tremendous violence today and every day. March 21st, 2016 clearly demonstrated that racism, particularly anti-Black racism is still pervasive within our systems and institutions as protesters were violently attacked by police on the Day of the Elimination for Racial Discrimination.

We urge Mayor John Tory to act on his proclamation for the Day of the Elimination for Racial Discrimination and to “reaffirm [their] commitment to building safe and inclusive societies” in a meaningful manner by hearing the demands from Black Lives Matter TO for:

  • The immediate release of the name(s) of the officer(s) who killed Andrew Loku & Jermaine Carby
  • A review of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), with adequate consultation from families victimized by police violence
  • A reversal of all city-mandated changes imposed on AfroFest, including its restoration to a 2-day festival

On March 21st, we remember those who have given their lives in the fight against racial discrimination and those who continue to resist in the face of violence.

 

In love, rage and solidarity,

MUJER

 

 

blm-logo-website-revised

 

 

Board Announcement

From: MUJER Board of Directors
Date: 1/28/2016
Re: Resignation from the President of the Board of Directors of MUJER


It is with great sadness that the Board of Directors of MUJER accepts Carolina Rios, Board President’s resignation. Her ongoing contributions and unwavering leadership to the work of the organization has been invaluable.

The Board of Directors is very sorry that Carolina has decided to leave MUJER to concentrate on her Masters’ Degree. We wholeheartedly support Carolina’s decision and wish her all the best in her ongoing pursuits.

MUJER would also like to thank Carolina for her efforts and commitment to furthering and bettering our Latinx communities through education, feminist framework, and above all – her passion for community work.

It is always difficult to replace fierce and dedicated volunteers like Carolina.

 

Te deseamos lo mejor,

MUJER

Dear Community Members,
We write to you to ask for your support in bringing transparency and accountability to the City of Toronto’s Community Legacy Initiative (CLI) grant funding process as City Council will be meeting on November 3rd to approve final recommendations. The CLI grant is an extraordinary opportunity for Toronto’s Latin American and Caribbean communities and we commend City Council on their efforts in making these funds available. However, we are greatly concerned that one organization, the Hispanic Canadian Heritage Council (HCHC), has managed to bypass the CLI grant process by jumping ahead to the short-list stage without being recommended in the first round of the competition, and now has been recommended for funding.

 

On April 2, 2015, a report from the Acting Executive Director, Social Development, Finance and Administration on the Community Legacy Initiative, presented 11 short-listed letters of intent and HCHC did not qualify. However, on April 20th during a Community Development and Recreation Committee (CDRC) meeting, a Councillor motioned to amend the recommendation and add HCHC to the list of short-listed applicants, which then was approved by Council. This was prompted by Oscar Vigil, Executive Director and other HCHC members writing letters to CDRC to reconsider their application because they were “misled and misinformed” on grant criteria. We are requesting clarification from the CDRC and City Council as to why this occurred and whether this same opportunity would have been given to the other 70 or more applicants across the city who did not get short-listed. We also ask for clarification on whether other applicants were notified that this was a possible course of action and that this change even occurred.

 

On October 15, 2015 the CDRC moved to adopt the recommendation that HCHC receive CLI funding, which will now be considered by City Council on November 3rd. The project HCHC proposes focuses on Hispanic Pride, despite the fact that numerous community organizations, including MUJER, Latin American Education Network, Latin American & Caribbean Solidarity Network, Latin-America History Collective, Latin American Queer Education Project, Casa Cultural Ecuatoriana, and Sick Muse Art Projects have expressed concern over using the term “Hispanic.” This is because using the term “Hispanic” excludes the many Afro-descendant, Indigenous, Asian and non-Spanish speaking communities across Latin America.

 

In addition, a change.org petition and hard-copy petition already have hundreds of signatures calling for the re-naming of Hispanic Heritage Month because the term is exclusionary. Since these petitions have been launched, HCHC has not attempted to engage with feedback and one of their members that primarily works with youth in the community, the Latin American Education Network, has resigned because of these practices.

 

Community organizations often face challenges in securing funding to better the lives of people across Toronto. We urge you to ask your Councillors to bring transparency to the CLI grant process in order to be accountable to the many applicants as well as the taxpayers. Please encourage your Councillors to not approve the funding of HCHC and move a motion for the CDRC to reassess proposals and be transparent and accountable to all applicants. Please see the attachments, which show how HCHC was not short-listed in the initial round of the CLI competition and then suddenly became a short-listed candidate recommended for funding, as well as community opposition to Hispanic Heritage Month. Our formal letter is attached here as well.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

MUJER Board of Directors

 

Attachments:
City Council and CDRC Relevant Minutes for first round of CLI
City Council and CDRC Relevant Minutes for final Recommendation
Change.org petition to rename Hispanic Heritage Month

On September 5th 2015, gender-based threats were made targeting University of Toronto staff and faculty members from the Women and Gender Studies and Sociology Departments as well as feminists on campus.

 

As a feminist organization for the development of Latin American women and youth, MUJER stands in solidarity with the students, staff and faculty from the University of Toronto. Violence against cis and trans women as well as gender non-conforming people is unacceptable. In a society where the prevalence of rape culture, transmisogyny, and domestic violence continues to be undeniably present, addressing systemic issues must be part of the strategy. “The recent threats reflect deeply violent and sexist views, which are a product of a patriarchal society and can not be taken lightly. Women should not feel unsafe in the classrooms and/or workplace” says Carolina Rios, MUJER Board President.

 

The issue of gender-based cyberviolence cannot be ignored. We urge the University of Toronto to ensure that campuses are safer spaces with the creation of an extensive campus-wide action plan addressing gender-based violence in its many forms.

 

Last December 6th commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre at l’École Polytechnique where 14 women were brutally murdered due to gender-based violence. Let us remember the lives of those who have and continue to be affected by violence and let us stand with those who continue to fight for the thriving livelihoods of women and trans people.

In love, rage and solidarity,

MUJER

UofT Feminist

Toronto (June 19th, 2014) – For the last 7 years MUJER has offered a FREE summer camp to at-promise Latina youth living within the Greater Toronto Area. Unfortunately, it is with deep regret that we inform the community that this year we will not be able to make this a reality due to lack of funding and resources.   This multi-faceted program offered in ‘Spanglish’ to Latina youth ages 13-21 for three weeks in the summer, had three main components: Leadership, Health and Creative Art Expression workshops, which addressed topics including self-esteem, bullying, body image and healthy relationships.

 

406201_397354223661567_1039030747_nThroughout the years MUJER has worked very hard to ensure this program was available to young girls and women of our community. Through combined institutional funding (ie. grants) and community support (fundraisers, tireless volunteers and staff overtime), we were able to produce an alternative for young women and girls in our community; a chance for Latina youth to connect with and learn from each other while breaking barriers and creating hope. This camp provided a haven from the many socio-economic pressures afflicting girls and young women living in poverty in our city. This camp was a safe space where young Latinas could participate, grow, be themselves, explore and become empowered for 3 weeks, from 10am – 4pm, Monday to Friday.   482007_399354633461526_1384738327_n

 

Since 2007, we have seen the participants grow into youth leaders, who in turn have become volunteers and/or staff. We have witnessed the positive impact and effect of offering a safe space for girls and young women to claim as their own. We are grateful to the many partners that have supported the camp since its inception. They include the Kids Up Front Foundation who provided tickets to movies, professional sports games and museums, Second Harvest who provided the participants with refreshments, the TDSB and TCDSB school boards that provide the space to host the summer camp, and many more.

 

For the staff, participants and volunteers at MUJER, the summer camp has been an incredible and unique experience that we hope to offer again in years to come. But we cannot do this alone. We need the community. We need individuals and groups to help us. We need donations. It costs us approximately $8,000 to run the summer camp and we’re looking at other ways to raise these funds. This is a call out to the community and our allies to help us make this camp a reality and provide our Latina young women and girls the space and tools they need to become the empowered strong leaders they deserve to be.

 

Would you help us make this dream a reality? Let’s strengthen our community, let’s support our youth to be, pursue and achieve!

 

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To donate to our 2015 summer camp go here -> http://bit.ly/1oHctb1

To get in contact with us email coordinator@mujer.ca

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Wow we had an incredible month and it flew by too fast. So fast that we did not even have the chance to blog  about!

 

On April 9th we launched  ¡Hasta Aqui No Mas! / Draw the Line,  our much anticipated multimedia educational campaign that aims to engage individuals in a dialogue about sexual violence. The campaign challenges common myths about sexual violence and equips bystanders with information on how to intervene safely and effectively.

 

 

1146212_562579760472345_2105461000_oFor the last year MUJER has been working with the Latin-American community to analyze how stereotypical portrayals of what it means to be a woman or a man can lead to violence, harassment, stalking, sexual assault and rape as part of the gender inequity in our society perpetuated by patriarchal and cultural norms. The goal of the campaign is to increase knowledge about sexual violence and encourage community members to be actively committed to preventing and challenging sexual violence.

 

 

MUJER has produced a set of public service announcements (PSAs) to promote the initiative, which feature Latin-American men and women confronting sexual violence. The PSAs have been created to generate conversations about sexual violence against women, strategies for prevention and to promote attitudes and behaviours that empower men and boys to play an active role in ending sexual violence and to support.

 

¡Hasta Aqui No Mas! – Enseñando a la juventud (Teaching Youth) (with English subtitles)

¡Hasta Aqui No Mas! – Desafiando Amigos (Challenging Friends)  (with English subtitles)

 

Hasta Aqui No Mas / Draw the Line is calling on the community to spread the word, challenge their peers and social norms that perpetuate sexual violence.  Through written text, pictures and video we want to hear from you and we want to know how do you confront sexual violence?

 

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/latinamericanwomen

Twitter: @MUJERorg

Email: hastaaquinomas@mujer.ca

Hashtags: #WDTL #HastaAquiNoMas

www.draw-the-line.ca

 

STATISTICS

More than 87% of victims of sexual assaults are females. Approximately 98% of persons accused of sexual offences are males. According to Statistics Canada in 2009, 265,000 individuals, women and men, reported that they had been sexually assaulted in Ontario, yet it is estimated that only 1 in 10 sexual assaults are reported.