Monday, November 3, 2008

NACCS Joto Conference

Iris Arcon

The Second Annual NACCS, Joto Caucus Conference was a three day event full of great presenters and performers including Cherríe Moraga, an internationally-recognized feminist, Chicana lesbian writer.

The conference was called “Sacred Space Making: Mapping Queer Scholarship, Activism, and Performance,” and was hosted by California State University, Los Angeles.

Moraga, who has written such great works including This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, Loving in the War Years: Lo Que Nunca Pasó Por Sus Labios (1983).

The conference had several workshops like “Feminism as a Sacred Space for Queer Men of Color,” “Immigrant Lesbians and Gay Men: the Missing Color in the Rainbow,” and “Queer Documenting, Archiving, and Researching.” Other workshops included, “Conectando Nuestras Fronteras: Bridging Queer Aztlán,” Queer Youth at the Forefront of Youth Organizing; Building Safe, Inclusive and Equitable Schools,” “Postcards from La Raza/Postales de La Raza,” “Implementing Queer Chicana/o Latina/o Studies in the CSU System,” and “Ave María Purisima de l@s jot@s: Testimonios on the Intersections of Religion, Spirituality, and Jota/o Identity,”

The last day was dedicated to Moraga. She read her newest work entitled, “Still Loving in the (Still) War Years.” Her piece embodied her Chicana lesbian side once again. After her reading, we got a chance to hear her reflect on the audience’s questions. She scolded us and said, “Why is there no movement? This scares me.”

When she uttered those words, “Queer Aztlan: The Re-formation of Chicano Tribe,” Moraga’s powerful article came into my head. She has been saying it all along. In her, Queer Aztlan, she, “felt the racism from the women’s movement, felt the elitism from the gay and lesbian movement; and homophobia and sexism from the Chicano movement.”

That is why she envisioned “Queer Aztlan.” Moraga reflected on, “ a dissolution of an active Chicano movement. The gradual Hispanization of Chicano students, the senselessness of barrio violence, and the poisoning of la frontera. For (her) ‘El Movimiento’ has never been a thing of the past. Those words were playing over and over in my head. She scolded us and asked “Why is there no movement.”

This question of whatever happened to the movement needs to be brought up again. The movement isn’t dead. It’s just waiting. What’s more important is that yeah, students have heard about the Chicano movement, but so many have not. Why don’t we know any of this information? Yes, that is what the walkouts represent.

Why don’t we know about AB540? Why don’t they know about what SB1301 and Prop. 8 stand for? And I can’t help but wonder are we still in the same place? Have we really not progressed anywhere since the Chicano Movement?

Yes, we all know certain things that pertain to immigration like the infamous May Day march. We all know about the raids, but we haven’t learned anything about queer issues. We still need to learn more.

This brings me to another issue. Will immigrants and queers have to fight the same struggle as the Chicano youth of the ‘60s? We are the students that have embodied the spirit of the Chicano Movement. We keep fighting for the all inclusive classes. We want to read about Cherríe Moraga and other writers like her. We don’t want to have to go to the women’s studies department to learn about queer theory and feminism. We don’t want to have to go to the sociology or history department to learn about all aspects of immigration. Our department should have all of these topics within the curriculum.

So with the current redevelopment of the Chicano studies department, has the department remembered to add immigration, Chican@ Feminism, and Queer issues? More importantly why aren’t we requesting these requirements within our curriculums?

One man asked, “You are a prominent lesbian Chicana writer. Where are all of the jotos? Why don’t we have queer men to look up to?”

La Cherríe left us with this, “You all have to go back home and challenge daddy. ¶

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