open letter to campaign x

December 5, 2011

dear campaign (fill in the one of your choice there are hundreds to choose from),

please, under no circumstance, mistake organizing with campaigning.

organizing is when you gather a people, have THEM identify the issues, provide the tools necessary so that they may advocate for themselves and they LEAD the way to systemic change created from within.

campaigning already has a set agenda and you invite others because you NEED them to meet your goals.

did you catch the difference? (i hope you do. i mean, you and all your law degrees and political jargon and your corporate behavior dressed in non-profit should see it clearly).

the former starts from its people, works with its people, and then its people create the change they wish to see. the latter, well, just wants to move a personal agenda and when it realizes it doesn’t have “enough people,” they scramble to find tokens in a jar of spare Blacks, Latinos, Queers, women, low-income people… throw us a t-shirt and some event, catered by who else but us… and expect us to join or even more baffling, fight for… what YOU want.

well, shit… have you stopped to look at your campaign from the perspective of the tokens in your jar? have you taken the time to really look in your jar? i mean, honestly… stop looking at people like they’re just people. it makes you insensitive, shallow, and disconnected. plain and simple. take the mutha’ fucking time to really learn a people. go with intent. sit and have a cup of coffee with someone you might never sit with. learn their struggle. see if you can taste it. learn what moves them to continue in light of their struggles. try to have a genuine human connection that tugs at your heart.

…but you won’t.

you’ll keep pushing your campaign based on political strategies created by the same people you claim to be fighting against. in the end, you might win… ’cause money, well… money is money.

and conversely, in the end… you will not have changed anything. because the system remains the blueprint for legislative oppression created by the oppressor.

but please, do me at least one favor… don’t call it a movement if it ain’t moving.

sincerely,

Sarahí Y. Almonte

reflection: tired

October 5, 2011

“i am tired of fighting,” posted a friend on her page.  and i knew exactly what she was feeling. i mean, we truly are “scratchin’ and surviving” ….each. damn. day.

sometimes we are fighting (exerting valued energy) for things that in this day and age, we should NOT be fighting for. some examples include: housing, healthcare, food… you know, the basic necessities for a human being to survive.

and we fight. and fight. for crumbs. and then we fight each other for the crumbs thrown at us. it is literally exhausting.

we try to organize communities only to be met, not by apathy but by exhaustion. the “fight” has been legislated out of them. they believe in nothing and no one because years of advancement can time travel right back with the cast of a vote or the swinging of a wallet.

hell. fucking. yes. you have a right to be exhausted. tired. fed up. and ’bout ready to catch one. ’cause this shit sucks.

but that’s just it. that’s what the powers that be want… for us to just lie down and call it quits. they would love to see is throw in the towel. raise the red flag.

what i’d like to throw is my exhaustion. and i will not raise a red flag when my hand has taken the form of a fist. they are more afraid than we are because they know the power we have. they know, that if we would come together we would be undefeated. they know our collective numbers would crash the market of their egos.

we, together, are the sum of their greatest fear.

so yes, be tired. be exhausted. and then muster all the energy of a fighter who knows that the battle is hardest right before you emerge victorious.

 

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011

pure heart

July 24, 2011

religion is for those who believe in hell.
spirituality is for those who have lived through it.”

in the beginning…
…all was good.

tired.
exhausted in fact.
at how in the name of god
they crucify the very free souls
of humanity.

there is nothing Christian
about Christianity
when they have forgotten
that Jesus was,
another way of saying
Love.

using
that king james version
of the book
to breed a royal lineage
of hatred.

hate begets hate.

from tennessee
to ghana
the churches claim
they wanna’ heal us.

we are not broken
because we are queer.

it is you,
in the name of
your holy spirit-
dancing like david
every time, a right is denied
or a people oppressed,
who have taken the song
right outta’ of our book of
psalms just to see us broken.

creating religious laws
in secular spaces,
claiming respect
of culture and traditions.
disrespecting the very teachings
of your teacher…

Love.

created in his image…

how dare you exclude my community
from the creation,
then dress it up in biblical chapters
that lost their translation
when you started speaking
in blasphemous tongues.

but you know, my queer people
are like Job:

we go through hell and remain faithful.

losing
jobs, family and life;
we survive because we have Spirit.

you may crucify us
but Love resurrects
on the third day…

we keep the sabbath
only to rest our fears.

Corinthians will show us Love
and you can keep your Apocalypse
‘cause your hatred will consume
only your hate-filled hearts.

and “when the saints,
go marchin’ in…”
a rainbow will remind us
of the true covenant…

“blessed are the pure in heart
for they will see god.” (matthew 5:8)

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©

reflection: queertura

June 30, 2011

“We are afraid of being abandoned by the mother, the culture, La Raza,for being unacceptable, faulty, damaged…
to avoid rejection, some of us conform to the values of the culture,
push the unacceptable parts into the shadows.”
~Borderlands, Gloria Anzaldua

QUEERTURA: On being a Latina AND a Lesbian

Through reading, writing and living I have been able to discover and recover what it means to be a Latina, a lesbian and a woman: they are interconnected and not mutually exclusive.  They embrace each other and celebrate their differences; at times, there is struggle between the three.  As Latina/os, I have noticed that we prefer to lose our “queerness” before our cultura because we might be seen as a “sell-out.”  After all, being queer is considered a “white thing.”

But I embrace the three (Latina, Lesbian and Woman) as my own wholly trinity; as in, I am made whole by this relationship.  I am conscious that the three are interdependent of each other and more importantly, that they are reinforced and shaped by my experiences.  I have sought enlightenment, clarity, self-knowledge and self-acceptance in this process, by simply allowing myself to feel and deal with the emotions that have surfaced along the way.

Often times as Latina/o queers we are viewed by other Latinas/os as less Latina/o because of our queerness.  As if in being queer we lose our Latinidad.  We fear living openly. So, we prefer to deny a part of us, so as to not be rejected by our culture.  In Gloria Anzaldúa’s book  Borderlands, she speaks to this “fear of going home.  And not be taken in.”  As she says, “We are afraid of being abandoned by the mother, the culture, La Raza, for being unacceptable, faulty, damaged… to avoid rejection, some of us conform to the values of the  ulture, push the unacceptable parts into the shadows.” (Anzaldúa, 1987).  I have refused my entire life to push any part of me into the shadows.  I am not less of a Latina because I am a lesbian; I am in fact a stronger Latina in light of being a lesbian.

I too, defend my cultura against those who try to diminish who we are and what we have accomplished and provided to the global
society.  But I will be the first to call them out when they cry, “El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido!” yet never bother to look at the queer community and join us in our collective struggle of equality for all.

The struggle is constant; every day I realize that everything I do affects and causes an effect on my wholly trinity.  I live my life in
harmony and do not allow anyone or anything to move me from the core of my being.  I sit comfortably and confidently at the center of my soul.

Author and publisher, Steven Fullwood in his book Funny wrote, “The question on the table directed at any historically oppressed people is, can you prove that you exist?”

If one does not live openly (for whatever reasons), you continue to create this concept of “non-existence” and perpetuate the ridiculous idea that this “queer thing” is a “white thing” and therefore not an “us thing;” so queer Latinas/os do not exist.

As difficult a task as it may seem we cannot remain silent. And when I say we, I am speaking in particular to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender people of color in every corner of the world.

We must begin to voice who we are so that we can prove that we have existed long before June Prides and Stonewall; that our movement is not a sexual revolution but a spiritual evolution that has been taking place for thousands of years.

Simply put… existimos.

Don’t misunderstand me please.  I understand why people choose to live in closets. I understand that people fear rejection, abuse, marginalization and even death. For GLBT POC’s living in the United States, the battle is “uphill both ways” all of the time. For
most GLBT POC’s living outside of this country it isn’t a battle, it is a full-out war.

But what if we ALL came out? What if the closet doors swung opened? What if we stepped out of the darkness? Never have the words of a conference I participated in 1995 called Children from the Shadows (now True Colors) echoed so loudly in my life, “In the light of understanding… shadows disappear.”

The message that I get from those who remain in the closet is that of shame, fear and isolation. And no community can evolve in that atmosphere. And while I respect those who live their lives in silence, I cannot defend your reason for remaining closeted (though I’d defend you with my life if need be).

If you don’t come out… to the eyes of many, you don’t exist.

The coming out of our very own Ricky Martin is something of amazing historical proportions (though I’m still waiting for my Shakira Etheridge –winks at Salma).  The coming out of our Hermano Ricky gave the world more “light about us.”

I want the world to look around and see that GLBT POC’s are out in the world creating change and being visible. I don’t want to have to google “Latina lesbians” to find out if they have existed (trust me I have and it ain’t lindo’).  If we emerged from our “armarios” we need not prove our existence but reaffirm it by celebrating the strength of our diversity and living our lives in light of our truths.

Let us ask ourselves Mr. Fullwood’s question, “…can you prove that you exist?”

The light of our truth shines, “Sí!”

But we must break the culture of silence to shatter the culture of fear, hatred and ignorance that has made us appear invinsible so that we may embrace the light of our queertura.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©

dimas

April 24, 2011

jesus.

today you rise
from the dead.

your followers
celebrate your
sacrifice.
for sinners. for all.
you gave your life,
they say.

tomorrow,
Pontius Pilates’
offsprings
will wash
their hands
and continue to
crucify us.

as we walk
through our own
via dolorosa
with crosses
of guilt
on backs that bleed
love.

lashes of hatred.

thorned crown of fear.

they call us the apocalypse.

they speak for you.
ripping scripture
into shreds of
ignorance.

use your name
to condemn.

forgetting
with ease
that you
are
simply
and
powerfully
Love incarnate.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©

starving unity

January 26, 2011

starved for solutions
we panhandle
government.

trying to make sense
less the acts committed against us
are constant reminders
of the poverty-stricken-hatred-increasing
mentalities they hand out on welfare lines.

the races are racing.
black v. brown
latino immigrant v. puerto rican
the cultures are clashing.
gays v. queers
muslims v. christians

divide to conquer
their spirits.
divide to deplete
their strength.

a minority remains a minority
if they believe so.

starve them.

their children watching. listening.
eyes wide open. ears pressed.
history on loop
will replay itself.

…and they will never come together.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©

deferred

December 27, 2010

our mothers’ dreams
rest on the pillows
of our beds.

wrapped in the blanket of
their guilt, their failed attempts,
their unfulfilled wishes.

…their “i-should-haves”
hold us hostage.

caged.

we’d like to be
the perfect daughters.
the ones who gives mami
everything she never had.
because that’s what she gave us.
and she had nothing
but those dreams
that she gave up
when she pushed us out
of her womb.

her dreams discarded
with the placenta.

my birth
became the reminder
of her deferred dreams.

those dreams. her dreams.

this unrealistic reality
has become my nightmare.

i cannot give
her, her dreams.
they do not live in me,
they live on me.

i have my dreams.
the ones i don’t want
to pass on to my daughter.
they are mine and mine alone
to dream up and live out.

but her guilt’s got me thinking
my wings are clipped.
her frustration’s got me questioning,
“why is my wing span so wide
if i can’t fly?

i cannot live out her dreams.
her dreams know i am not the one.
mine will wonder where i’ve been…

and my daughter’s dreams will ask,
“what dreams did you live out, mami?”

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2010 ©

i won’t tell

December 10, 2010

it’s ok if you don’t ask… ‘cause i won’t tell.
you’ll figure it out when you find my body
in the estuary of the east river.
(my spirit died long before
i leapt off that bridge).

see, you’ve been legislating hatred
for centuries.

the women. the blacks.
the poor. the latino. the disadvantaged.
the queers.

you’ve been proclaiming the land of the free.
a democracy. with liberty and justice for all.

while you imprison
your people
under the stars
and behind the bars
of your flag.

i could never break
your glass ceiling
cause my hands
are busy trying
to hold myself
together.

“from California to the New York Islands
this land was made for…” no one
who is different from you.

“tyranny of the majority,” said your James Madison.
–you were warned years ago.
you fight against extremism when it’s used against you,
yet you’ve wagered an extreme war against those who are different.

the message you send is hypocrisy.

but please don’t ask… ‘cause i won’t tell.
let the bully in class, beat it out of me.
let my pastor in church, pray it away.
let my mother at home, cuss’ it out.

‘cause at the end of this day
i will just be another headline that reads,
“queer youth commits suicide.”

and they will wear their purple shirts.
and candles will be lit to remember me…

but i will soon be forgotten.
because the real problem
isn’t just the bully, my pastor and my mother…

the real problem is when you continue to create laws
that deny me my very basic right to be protected.

so please don’t ask… trust me, i won’t tell.
silence has always equaled death.
and in death i am free from your hatred.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2010 ©

writer’s note: dedicated to all young queer youth. you are so much light to the infinite power. remain strong. there are many of us who are here for you… just reach out.

i used to be a latina

November 10, 2010

i used to be a latina
then i became a lesbian.

it takes some time, you know?
to reconcile…and stay a while
with that thought:

i am a latina lesbian
i am a latina lesbian
i am a latina lesbian

i have to say it out loud every day because the two seem so antonymous to each other.
like they’re always fighting, always at odds… como aceite y vinagre, oiste’?

latina.

lesbian.

you hear it all the time.  “you are not living up to your latina expectations sen~orita.
you are a lesbiana.  you are the absolute fall of all that is latina.
you have roles to play.  you have expectations to meet.
you’ve broken the first of the latina commandments, “you shall never love your women, more than you love your men.”

sometimes it’s heavy.  like cuarenta libras de platanos.
an internal tug of war between thousand-year-old expectations and… me.

shame creeps up, as my self knows better than to believe in this mierda they keep feeding us… i walk around carrying my ancestor’s guilt tattooed to my skin with indelible ink that tries to poison my spirits.
my lesbian self tries to make nice with my latinidad.  she brings her an olive branch of love and acceptance.  but this latina is so resistant to accept what seems to come so naturally to her.  she tries to fight it.  pushing and pulling.  shoving and holding. son un~a y carne…they are intertwined, interconnected and interdependent.

and so i sit with it.  and get to know it.  and take it out for dinner.  and hold the door for it.  and walk with it… until i can enunciate it, “la-ti-na-les-bi-an.”  and then i let it go.

i let it go… to set me free.

and it is at that moment that i embrace my truth:

i am a latina lesbian.

one does not negate the other.  they do not subject each other to a less than place… no.  the two, bailan un son.  as they embrace each other and dance to the rhythm of truth.

and it is not that latina lesbian defines what i am, it is that it celebrates something greater than me. it celebrates the struggle of two historically oppressed communities, where silence, and anger and hurt took place but where love still prevails. it celebrates a beautiful herstory of too many lifetimes left untold,

yo soy el eco de mil batallas internas.
la nostalgia de mujeres que se amaron en silencio.
yo soy un intento a la libertad,
un grito a la autonomia.
que por ser lesbiana y ser Latina
yo soy el, “que diran?”
yo soy el sudor de tu frente en accion..
la que pelea batallas externas
reclama su libertad
y segura de si misma, celebra su verdad.

yes, i am a latina lesbian.

this is not a choice… it is my hearts beat.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2008 ©

my prayer

June 11, 2010

i pray god forgives me
for i have sinned.

this internal religious war
has me burning bibles
and sacrificing jesus’.

i pray for those who pray hatred
on knees bent and body bowed.
asking god to change
sinners like me
into saint devils like them.

using scripture as a double edged sword
to stab my heart and pierce my spirit.
preaching from ecclesiastical altars,
perfumed with wilted white roses
that remind me of the dead.

saint devils enslaved to words
on a book
lost in translations.
blasphemous words uttered
condeming the creation of god:

me. as i am.

but their words fall on deaf ears.
the psalm of my prayer
will be sung.

love cannot be rebuked.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2010  ©