A blog by Amanda Alcantara

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

You Will Hear Us Roar

I feel it. The barriers that are so deeply embedded in the framework of our society are bringing me down. Us down. I cannot break them because I cannot afford a hammer. I can only hope for a miracle to allow me to fly over that wall. I guess that's why so many of us believe en Dios. I believe in our human power.

My skin, my height, my hair, the curves on my body, the way in which I move and speak, the way in which I carry myself, they all mean something in this white privileged patriarchal society.

I might listen to American music sometimes. I might have lost my sense of belonging in Dominican circles. I might speak English most of the time. I might have the privilege of having attended a university. But I am not white. Therefore, I even doubt my own talent in writing, journaling, public speaking, videoing, organizing, emailing, communicating, etc. These are not things that I am supposed to be. And that idea is engrained on my mind from the moment when a teacher in DR said that he pictured me walking around in a skirt as secretary even though I thought I had potential to be President.  I've felt it since I had to argue with other kids that I was able to do the same thing as boys and one of them made me notice that women aren't able to carry as much physical weight as men. I've felt it from the moment when my High School teacher told me I should go to a smaller private college because I needed special attention.

We are not supposed to make it. Men remind us of this as they yell things at us while walking down the street. They remind us that we're seen as property.

And the streets of this country, with their commodification of our bodies, with their prisons where our bodies are sterilized, with their closed doors and constant rejections, remind us that we're still not welcomed and that the American Dream is a myth.

My only privilege is to have an American passport and a birth certificate from here, but that only allows me to stay not to move up. Comprehensive immigration reform for those without this privilege can't come soon enough.

Sometimes I wonder how much of all this is true. Is sexism real? Is racism real? Yes, there are numbers  to prove them. But I wish I knew how much these attitudes have affected in my life. How much of all this oppression have I internalized? I can tell you that I've internalized a lot. I think of myself as awesome but I do feel that others see me as less capable, less trustworthy. Almost as if I'm permanently too young to be good enough for anything.

Well, I love my browness. I love my curly hair. I love who I am and everything about me. And I don't care if you don't. I don't care if you don't think that I'm capable. I'm tired of having to prove myself to you, America. In the Dominican Republic I was always considered one of the best at anything, sexism was the only thing that pushed me back. But there, even as a woman, I was valuable. Yet that country is "third world". It is third in the rank of importance set by some abstract global concept that becomes real with unjust corporate practices. Here. In corporate U.S., I'm not worth shit.

A white man born to a well-off family who graduated college is worth way more than a poor Latina who graduated from college in the same place. Even if she speaks three languages. Even if she has lived abroad. Even if she has had two internships, real work experience, decent gpa, and well-rounded view. Even if she is mature. Even if she straightens her hair for interviews.

But it's okay. The world will hear me roar.

I can hear my roar in activist spaces where folks view everyone in the room as equal. I can hear it among other sisters, all of us with our strong minds and voices and talents ready to take on the world with our mixed tongues that you fear so much. We're rising in pockets of the internet, in organizing spaces in apartments in Queens, in the first row of college lecture halls, in the front lines of protests holding signs that say Huelga. Our lives aren't secondary. Our countries aren't tertiary. The weight that many of us have carried on our shoulders since the moment of our births proves that we are stronger than you can imagine.

Dolores Huerta


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