I am a red diaper baby. My father was a communist, pretty much retired by the time I was growing up. Not in thought but in action. I think since he had to raise me he felt he had to chose between being a full-time organizer, and being a full-time father.
He chose the latter.
He comes from the political thought that if you smash capitalism all other forms of oppression will go away – racism, patriarchy, homophobia, etc. He also came from a completely different world than the one I grew up in; his father was extremely machismo, his parents were farm workers and his mother took care of all the reproductive work – raising the kids, cleaning the house, etc. – on top of her other work.
In my house growing up these same gender divisions of labor existed. My stepmom did the house work, raised us mainly on her own, and went to work full-time doing secretary work.
I learned a lot of bad habits on how to be in a relationship, how to express love, and how to be a woman from my family, things I am still struggling to get over as an adult.
I have had to learn how to be a woman in relationships, and in everyday life. I have had to learn confidence to not constantly doubt what I am saying, to talk louder, to be heard and respected. It’s not just the learning of confidence, but to combat patriarchy means I have to fight even harder.
When I became a revolutionary I didn’t even know that I was one until much later. I knew what I believed in, but I thought being a revolutionary meant behaving a certain way, having all of my ideas worked out, and being a badass speaker, organizer. Being like Malcolm X or Che. I was these things but I doubted myself. It wasn’t until one of my comrades and I were in a coffee shop talking and he asked me if I would consider myself a revolutionary, and my answer was like “well, I dunno, I mean I think there needs to be a revolution, but I don’t know if I would consider myself one” that I really started thinking about it more seriously. I knew I was committed to my struggle.
I had conversations with people about it to try to work this thing out. Could it be that I was a revolutionary? I talked to my partner about it and he made me think I wasn’t. He said he would consider me an activist. I am still not sure what made him think of me that way, maybe because he was struggling with his own ideas of what it means to be a revolutionary, or maybe because I was a woman, but either way it just confirmed to me more that I wasn’t, and wasn’t capable of being one either.
It was really through conversations with mainly other women that I began to see myself more and more in this way – as a badass Chicana revolutionary. Conversations I had with my sister – she was shocked that I already didn’t think of myself this way – she told me she had thought of me as revolutionary for a long time. Conversations with my mentors also made me realize that the work I was doing, and the struggle I was a part of, I was totally a revolutionary.
This brings me to a big struggle that I have since dedicated myself to smashing – patriarchy. I am still fighting for space and recognition constantly. With men, and other women, even my comrades at times, I have to push myself on people in order to be taken seriously. I am talked for, interrupted, not reached out to by people. There have been many times when I will say something that is dismissed, but then a man will say it for me – as if the way I said it wasn’t good enough – and then other people will be much more receptive to it.
I believe that it is crucial to develop women militants, this being one of many reasons. I think the same goes for people of color and queer folks. We are constantly being pushed out of the way in society, and even in times of struggle. Our demands are hardly heard when the leaders are white straight males. And as the Combahee River Collective said, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression”.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not on that privilege politics bullshit either. I don’t think people who are white or straight or male are inherently patriarchal, racists, or homophobic. I have thrown down with some badass white/straight/male people who can hold aloft the banner of Ethiopia just as kickass as a poc, or chant “stonewall lives fuck the pigs” and have a dope analysis of queer liberation, or smash on patriarchy just as good as women militants; but we need to develop ourselves too, to fight for our liberation, and the liberation of our brothers and sisters of all colors, genders, and sexual expressions.
I am committed to the work that’s at hand, but it is a really difficult road for sure. I see a need to build majority poc, women, and queer militant spaces because just as I have gained the tools for fighting against my oppressions, and when I am not taken seriously or interrupted or put down I have my comrades to have my back, we need spaces like this for women. I think that it is one of many reasons why women revolutionaries are harder to find then men. It’s not that there are less of them. They might not identify as revolutionaries because of a lack of confidence we were given at a young age, or because we aren’t pushed into studying revolutionary theory as much as men are, or because we aren’t given praise as being baddass militants as much as men are, but I think that even the women who do come around are often pushed out of the way or feel alienated and without other dope women militants who are going through this too and can have their back, they may fall out of organizing – something I have been inclined to do in the past.