Saying Hello For the First Time

25 Sep

Those few weeks after he was born, I didn’t immediately fall in love. I don’t believe in love at first sight. We were learning each other; I could’ve never imagined his appearance, as I’m sure he wondered about mine. We studied each other’s eyes, noses, mouths and played with each other’s fingers, feeling what it was like to be “mother,” to be “son” for the very first time. The only way you can feel that way is in direct contact with the person who makes you that. You cannot be a mother without a child to call “son” or “daughter.” But from the minute he arrived and said “hi” back to me, I knew I belonged to him, he owned me, and that I would protect him with my life. I loved him the way a tigress loves her cubs, fearlessly and intuitively.

The “falling in love” came later… <3

 birth

The Fucking Irony of PhD-ing

25 Sep

In response to the statistic used in my PhD Mama piece, this is an ode to that number:

A 2012 Racialicious post, “Latina/os in academia: A look at numbers,” offers these overwhelming facts:

Americans (25 years or older and of any race) [who] earn a doctoral degree in the first place [are]: 1.5% of the US population as a whole in 2011. [Latinas] don’t even make up one half of one percentage point.

Yea. About that… It is what it is. I mean, statistics don’t really prove shit. Does that mean I’m fucking rare? That I’m like one in a hundred thousand? (I’m bad at math so I’m sure that’s inaccurate.) Why the fuck does it matter? Because women like me aren’t supposed to make it in an environment designed to be fruitful for those who have parents who can support them or for someone who can spend their life on their passion for “love” of books? This is my fucking job. If I don’t make it here, I’ll be nowhere. This is a platform to allow me to do whatever the fuck I want because I have the title, I am Dr. Estremera. Or will be. Hopefully, if I can get the fucking time and energy to finish my thesis AND dissertation AND the rationale before that. I’m the expert, I can go back to the hood and tell little boys and girls to do their homework because they can be like me someday… But what am I? And why would they want to be?

Maybe the statistic does matter then… The fact that people in my area still do not know what a PhD. is. It is mind numbing to explain it countless times to people who still won’t understand. It matters because there should be more Latinas like me doing what I am doing or whatever they enjoy doing but in academia, where we do NOT belong. It matters because women from North Philly shouldn’t have to choose between being a hood rat and a baby mom. That percentage doesn’t make me clap for joy to be a part of it; it saddens me that it is a low as it is. But then again I think…

I have friends who are making $30-$50K with just college degrees; they don’t have a “career” necessarily, unless being someone’s administrative assistant (doing someone else’s job without the title or pay) is a reputable career still. I live off of a stipend that can barely pay for my rent for a year. The fucking irony.  But I love learning and fostering that passion in others. So you’ll never have to work a day in your life if you love what you do, right?!

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

La Femenista Presence

18 Aug

Hi Peeps!

Check out my full length article published by Feministing.com! Below is a brief glimpse of it… Further commentary to come!

Feministing.com Link

La Femenista Presence

July 3, 2014

By

By Cynthia Estremera

lfr1

In college I was surrounded by white feminists and white feminism. I was co-President of our feminist group “The Third Wave” and made waves as a Latina who embraced the principles of feminism bravely. Yet every day I was “segregated” from the Latino Student Organization, and at every event I fought to unite these groups as I aimed to unite these facets of myself. It hurt to look for myself in the margins of research papers and textbooks, if I existed there. It was difficult to see the few women of color in my Women’s Studies class pour out their hearts about their differences and have theory and history laugh in their face. The Latina feminist remains illegible because of narratives and ideologies that are continuously marginalized by the dominant narrative, the mainstream form of feminism for white middle class women.

So when I found Black feminism in African American literature, I felt I belonged there more than I ever did in the Eve Ensler-esque world of women’s equality. I could not understand why my Latina hermanas, hijas, y madres were not as visible and important as the Lilly Ledbetters, the Jane Roes, and the Susan B. Anthonys. Black feminism taught me why women of color were invisible and ignored, “[it] emerged at the juncture between antiracist and antisexist struggles” (White 1). I was closest to Black girls growing up and while in school, yet when my language fluency was “discovered” our friendship waned; a fluency that seemed broken to me. In academia, I face the issue of wanting to study African American women’s literature, but when I express a desire to intersect Afro-with-Latina my research becomes “sub-genre’d” and there is no one who can help me. This is a critique of the dominant structures of my graduate programs, determining that my English degree is better suited with literature that doesn’t exhibit an alternate language or code switching, despite having to fulfill a language requirement for research purposes. My language exam that I chose to complete was, of course, in Spanish. Yet still Latinas occupy a unique space where we are more different than alike, therefore no carved out space exists for us instead we are forced to identify with what can represent us the most instead of what can represent all that we identify with.

So how can this representation of Latina feminists be accomplished? How can we exist in a space specifically designed to nurture us and ensure our survival? How can we become visible, how can our voices be heard? The most appropriate answer seems to be that we need to write ourselves and our feminism into existence.

I seek a space where I can exist in solidarity and in sisterhood. I seek a space where talking turns into doing, and theorizing turns into a movement; where they both create opportunity. I yearn for the chance to hear our mothers and aunts and grandmothers proclaim “yo soy una femenista” and have these words be significant to them. I want to take feminist activism out of the academic and privileged spaces and translate it for the world to see it, living, breathing and existing. I want it to be accessible. I want this for women, I want this for Latinas; we need it for us. This is not to say that this space does not exist yet; I see blogs, conferences, and advocacy groups that promote feminist values. I hear the stories written by women and written for them, documenting struggles and survivals. […]

Earth, Wind, Sea & Love

18 Aug

Love and trust should be one and the same, and I imagine that we could walk away from each other for a day without checking in with the other and reunite at the end of the day without a worry or a care in the world. That “friends” are really people that we appreciate and spend time with who genuinely respect our relationship and it not matter what sex they are. That faithfulness is not some imagined concept that we fail to understand but something that we recognize as real and possible. That distance is nothing but time and we’ve got all the time in the world so the distance is irrelevant. Nothing you say can discourage me from loving you and any mistakes we each make we’ll take on together for the world to see, a united front with nothing but acceptance and support. Communication is perfect like we can read each other’s minds. Jealousy is just a small reminder to hold each other a little tighter at night, but it doesn’t run rampant to ruin what we have. I can see this, it’s obvious we could make shit like this happen, and it could all be worth it.

You have been the edge of a building I walk under to shield me from the rain when I don’t have an umbrella. You have lit up my life with your bright smile and comforted me with your warm and knowing eyes. You have opened up to me in ways that are unimaginable, ways I didn’t think were possible. You have promised me that I would become the happiest girl in the world and I am ready to feel that way forever. I’m ready to show you what it feels like to be treated like a king on a throne (and maybe sometimes a slave in the bedroom) Your kindness, your quiet observance, your generosity, your forgiving soul, your spurts of random affection, your silly, silly sense of humor, your crazy laugh, your unique controlled ambition, your dreams… All this is what makes me love you so deep and will always be the reasons why I love you forever ‘til the day I can no longer be present physically on this Earth. I could say that I wish to be a bird to fly the skies and see the world in a whole new way, but if I were I wouldn’t have hands to caress your face or arms to hold you close. I could say that I wish to be a fish to swim in the vast oceans and live in the sea, but if I were I wouldn’t have feet to walk side by side with you on earth. I could say that I wish to be dead if you’re not here with me, but if I were I wouldn’t have the momentary chance of encountering you and all the memories I have will erase. I could say that I wish to be with you forever, but if I were I would be lying to myself since I would want to spend a thousand eternities in your embrace.

The Last Lovers Alive

10 Apr

Don’t worry about the world, our stars are too far for it to see us clearly. Our moon is brighter in the dark.

Don’t think about the oceans. Our wind is strong enough to carry us both through the sky, our mountain tops are too high to be reached.

Don’t dwell on the animals of the land. Our wings will take us to new heights, our fins can cross chaotic waters and seas.

We were an endangered species and we were never meant to survive. Forced to adapt to the changing world but now we are stronger inside.

You see, my love, the elements of you and me can survive extinction and everything in between.

Trust in our survival & we’ll thrive until the end of human kind. We’ll be the last lovers alive, you and I.

hands

Syster

10 Apr

I’ve been a biological syster to two women and a syster to many more women in life. Many sisters have bonds, but our bond is different. My systers are my baby daddies, they are my toughest critics, my best friends, my daughters and my mothers at times. When people started knowing us as just “the systers” it became evident to us that our bond was different, that it was cyclical not parallel. That we didn’t pass things off based on age or experience or wisdom. That our energies given from one to the other was like nature, that what one took the other two gave, that what one didn’t have the other two did. Synergy, the interaction of multiple elements in a system to produce an effect different from or greater than the sum of their individual effects. Synergistic systers. We saw that our relationship worked better as a whole, with each component in place. From my little syster’s crazy personality to my opinionated, bossy self (I will NOT ban bossy) to my older syster’s therapeutic yet controlling tempo.

It all worked together. We said it was the “Power of 3” and though we wish we had supernatural powers to go along with this “Charmed” nickname, we knew our bond was enough.

There is no “I” in syster…

systers

First time

10 Apr

birthThose few weeks after he was born, I didn’t immediately fall in love. I don’t believe in love at first sight. We were learning each other; I could’ve never imagined his appearance, as I’m sure he wondered about mine. We studied each other’s eyes, noses, mouths and played with each other’s fingers, feeling what it was like to be “mother,” to be “son” for the very first time. The only way you can feel that way is in direct contact with the person who makes you that. You cannot be a mother without a child to call “son” or “daughter.” But from the minute he arrived and said “hi” back to me, I knew I belonged to him, he owned me, and that I would protect him with my life. I loved him the way a tigress loves her cubs, fearlessly and intuitively.

The “falling in love” came later…

One Lyfe at a Time

Living and learning one day at a time

Mamita Ascendente

Tales of motherhood, marriage, and the pursuit of happiness

loves comida

loves [co-mee’-dah] = loves food / a cooking and baking chronicle

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