Tag Archives: mujer

I March For My Niece

My niece, Emely, is nine years old. She is bright, and funny, and loves to read, and loves math, and wants to become a singer and actress. A couple of years ago she had a list of books she wanted me to buy for her. Of course, as a bibliophile, I complied and bought all the books she asked me for and more. When I visited her again, she told me about one of the books I had given her.img_7249

I still remember when Emely started school. Since Emely grew up in a Spanish-speaking household, when she started school she didn’t speak English. She learned the language from her teachers and her classmates. On one occasion, when I asked her to speak Spanish with us and use English for other conversations in order to help her stay bilingual, she said something that shook me to my core. “Spanish is UUUUGLY!” she said. With a heavy heart, I asked her why she said that. She said that everyone in school said it. Spanish is ugly. English is beautiful.

I have talked with Emely about the importance of learning as many languages as she can. I have told her about the importance of using both English and Spanish to communicate, and to take any opportunity she might have in the future at school to learn other languages. I have told her how proud we are of her. I have continued to make sure that she is proud of her Mexican heritage and that she understands what it means to be a USAmerican too. I have shared with her my own Puerto Rican culture and heritage and have encouraged her to adopt what she might want to adopt from it. I have shared with her how wonderful it is to have a non-traditional family, and what a blessing it is that she has a wonderful, supportive, caring mother, and two dads, and so many uncles and aunts, and siblings who live in different homes, and a madrina and a padrino who care deeply for her.

img_7149Today, as a white supremacist, xenophobe, and sexual predator took the oath of office as President, I worry about Emely and her future as a Latina woman growing up in the USA. I know I cannot protect Emely or her brother all the time. I also know that her parents’ immigration status prevents them from providing all the protections that she – both of them, my niece and my nephew – deserve. But there are some things I can do. I can join the RESISTANCE and stand up for my niece.

And so, Emely, I will march tomorrow, Saturday, January 21st. Emely, I will answer the invitation from other women around the USA and the world to stand up to injustices against women. Even though you might be too young to understand, I will march because I love you, because I respect you, and because I believe in you as a woman.

There are also other reasons why I march in solidarity with my niece tomorrow. These are not the only ones, but here are some reasons to march:

I march because I believe that my niece Emely’s brown body is hers and only hers. No one, no matter what position of authority they might have, even if it’s the Presidency of the USA, has the right to touch your brown body, let alone grab it violently and without permission.

I march because I believe that you have the right to education, and that you have the right to make choices as to how far you want to take your education and what profession to pursue or not pursue. You have the right to access a job that is suitable to your abilities and your passions, and to be paid fairly and at the same rate than any male who will do the same job.img_9337

I march because, when the time comes for you to make choices about your body, it should be you, and only you, who make those decisions. Because your brown body is yours and deserves to be respected and honored. Because your brown skin is beautiful, and normal, and is neither “exotic” nor a stereotype to be paraded at the whim of those with power.

I march because I know that your parents can’t be exposed to deportation and because I want to continue being your uncle, not having to be your foster parent should something were to happen to my brother- and sister-in-law.

I march because I believe that, although you have been raised Roman Catholic, you should have the right to make the decision that makes YOU comfortable. I march because, if in the future you want to wear a hijab, you should be able to do it without fear of intimidation. I march because if in the future you choose not to believe in anything, you should not be punished for having no religion.

I march because I believe that you should feel safe in wearing whatever the hell you want to wear in public. I march because I believe that you should feel safe walking down the street and that no one should be cat-calling you, or intimidating you, or threatening your life and safety.

I march because I believe that you should be free to choose to love whomever you want to love, just as I love your uncle who gave me the blessing of being welcomed by this wonderful family that now both you and I, as outsiders, call “nuestra familia.” I march because I believe that you should love as many people as you wish to love and not being condemn for it.

I march because, if I march today, I know… I know… that by the time your Quinceañera comes, this will be a safer place for you and all your loved ones.

I could continue listing reasons to march, Emely, but I can’t. My eyes are filled with tears – you know how much I cry – and I can’t write anymore. But be sure, sobrina, I will march for you. I march for you, mi querida sobrina. I march because I know that staying home is not an option.


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Filed under Culture, discrimination, ethnicity, familia, Feminism, Heritage, Hispanics, Hispanos, History, Human Rights, Identidad, Identity, immigration, justice, Latino, niña, niñez, niño, Peace, race, racism, resistance, Social Movements, United States, USA, Women rights

Las mantillas evangélicas

IMG_3419En mis años de infancia, cuando visitaba de vez en cuando la parroquia de Nuestra Señora de la Medalla Milagrosa en Castañer, Puerto Rico, veía una que otra viejita usando mantilla. Las mantillas son esos velos que cubren la cabeza de las mujeres católicas devotas. Por lo general son negras. Las mantillas eran utilizadas mucho en los años antes del Concilio Vaticano II. Pero luego de éste Concilio, la Iglesia Católica decidió que no era necesario el que las mujeres utilizaran mantillas en la iglesia. Así que el uso de mantillas se ha mantenido solamente entre las viejitas que todavía se aferran a la tradición y a los grupos Católicos ultra-ortodoxos.

Bueno, eso era lo que creía yo, hasta que visité El Salvador hace unas semanas. Resulta que caminando por las calles de San Salvador – y en muchos otros lugares que visité en el país – me encontré con mujeres de todas las edades vistiendo mantillas. Todas llevaban mantillas blancas. Elaboradas con perlitas de mentira y bordadas con hilo fino blanco. Me pareció interesante ver tanta mujer católica aferrada a su tradición, así que le pregunté a mi amigo el porqué de tal devoción.

“¡Esas no son mujeres católicas! Quienes llevan esas mantillas son evangélicas.” Eso me dijo mi amigo. Me quedé estupefacto. ¡Mujeres evangélicas vistiendo mantillas! Yo había sido testigo de mujeres de grupos evangélicos judaizantes utilizar mantillas (en Puerto Rico, la Congregación de Yahweh es una de estas iglesias), pero nunca en público. Por  lo general, el uso de mantillas es exclusivo para el culto privado. Después de todo, aun si leemos al Apóstol Pablo literalmente en 1 Corintios 11:1-16 éste hace referencia al uso del velo por la mujer solamente en el contexto del culto.

Lo interesante de ver tanta mujer en El Salvador con velo/mantilla es que me recordó cuán similares somos a pesar de nuestras diferencias. De seguro que si les preguntara a esas mujeres evangélicas qué piensas de sus hermanas católicas, nos dirán que las católicas están mal. Criticarán su fe y su forma de expresar el cristianismo. Así mismo, las mujeres católicas quizás critiquen o no entiendan a las mujeres evangélicas. Pero interesantemente, las mujeres evangélicas son herederas de una costumbre católica romana. La han adoptado y adaptado para sí. De hecho, a quien siguen e imitan es a la misma María de Nazaret, cuya imagen siempre lleva velo/mantilla, pero cuya imagen es tan rechazada por las mismas mujeres que siguen su ejemplo.

Seguimos teniendo divisiones por cosas que no deben dividirnos. Seguimos construyendo muros que nos separan aun cuando somos similares. Seguimos rechazando otras personas porque no comprendemos el porqué de sus costumbres… Así somos… Ojalá que un día estas hermanitas evangélicas se den cuenta que sus mantillas no son suyas, las heredaron de sus hermanas católicas romanas y de María la Madre de Jesús.


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