Saturday NACCS: Roundtable on Hijas de Cuauhtémoc

[I was tweeting this roundtable on Hijas de Cuauhtémoc but lost wifi so I decided to blog it. These are my notes taken as the discussion was going on and is probably both disjointed and incomplete. Session was recorded for classroom use at CSULB.]

Introduction by Maylei Blackwell. (see tweets)

Discussion by Anna NietoGomez, Sylvia Castillo, Leticia Hernandez, Audrey Silvestre.

ANG: My purpose in being here is because I’m trying to create a more coherent picture of what was going on in the 1970s. We were motivated to start Hijas because Chicana contemporaries were experiencing sexual harassment w/in Chicano movement. Chicanas and Mexicanas were dismissed as irrelevant. Male leadership seeking freedom and civil rights for himself and not for the we that included Chicanas. The sense of being othered by own community.

Fredrick Turner’s book influenced by having section on role of women in the revolution, women called Hijas de Cuauhtémoc. This small piece of Chicana history made us realize that feminism was our history. Used the model of press as a way to raise awareness, to encourage Chicanas to express their ideas through writing and art, to confront issues of discrimination.

First issue not well received. MEChA organized a mock funeral for members of Hijas, funerals were depicted with names of Hijas on it. Hostile environment. Apology when coffins were found 20 years later.

Sought funds through community financial solicitation. Spoke at Norwalk senior citizen community center. Supported by parents / families. They raised $250 so they could publish.

Three events announced through the newspaper: March 1971, state committee on higher education implementation of Chicana studies through curriculum. History about Chicanas written by Chicanas. Announcement of national conference in Houston. University regional conference at CSULB.

Used the newspaper as a tool to mobilize women to attend the conference. 250 women attended. Hijas became national vehicle to communicate.

Publication ceased because life intervened. Students needed to study and work. Hijas never became a statewide or national magazine. In 1973 some Hijas reunited and organized a journal Enquentro Feminil. Art, criticism, education. Main thrust, concern about high dropout rate of Chicanas, double the dropout rate of women. 1974 Chicana feminist, Chicana welfare rights, obtaining resources from the community for course on Chicana.

Models of feminism focusing on Chicana issues.

Notion that writing by Chicanas was valuable. Journal could not continue but was completely sold out. Seen as a treasure by those who have them.

LH: Authoritarian father, submissive mother, everything geared toward making a living. Going to school and getting a job. Was threatened with bodily harm for walking out / blow outs. Stuck between doing what was the right thing in the fight but being torn between family. Didn’t walk out

Recruited out of Clearing House. Living off campus dorm at Long Beach — none of the women graduated. Campus did not take care of them. Treated as nothing, not considered not count. Guys were always coming on to them, seduced by EOP director which lead her into Chicana politics. Met Hijas, always going the menial stuff at meetings. Detested the machismo, wanted them to be on the arm, be in the kitchen, be secretary, be quiet.

But still idealistic, totally committed to movement. Hijas as a way to get women involved to get them to fight for the movement. Called them dirty word, labeled them feminist “no better than white women.”

Retreated faced with attack. Quit everything, quit MEChA, quit school got a job, pushed it all down into a dark place. Look at the world around us. Women are being restricted by their society.

SC: Personal story. Family was attacked by the John Birch society and Klan when they integrated Lakewood. Understood race and being the other, but at the same time, understood that white people would defend as well as attack. Critical formation. Later found out they were in the communist party USA. Women as part of “my people’s” history. My people didn’t always have cover but they always had class, the have nots.

Had politics, had sexuality already when she got to CSULB – already trained as agitator. Disappointed at being sexualized and working mimeograph machine. Organizing and studying Marxism which gave a framework and a way to anchor herself, see as historical. Led international movement.

MEChA disappointing, being treated like the other for being a woman. Fighting and being called a feminist. Silenced by moratorium times — men’s sense that it was a time of male issues. Feminist, social justice, working class, wanted society wide impact. Wanted to take our place in rise of third world movement. Releasing the energies of our people to move into the 21st century. Not about taking over MEChA.

Reproductive rights clinic / information. Self defense course due to Chicanas being assaulted by both Chicano men and men on campus. Not be involved with oppression olympic. SC participated in building an alternative school when she was 19 in Hawaiian Gardens.

This story is about a particular time but writ large in story of struggle of women and struggle of women with men. Here because we’re trying to find our own history.

AS: contemporary organizer of the group Conciencia Femenil both now and in honor of their communities. History re-discovered by students in 2009. Looking for history.

March 2010 Conference on where Chicanas are now. Homophobic and sexist attacks talking about how they should be killed. Filed police report as hate speech to get editor of student newspaper to remove the hate speech comments.

Responded by trying to give context to the conference, statement to Chicano/ Studies, La Raza and women’s studies departments. Calling for an intervention to see the intersection of racism, sexism, heterosexism. More backlash but they were ready to respond with petition and social media to hold institutions accountable. Because attacks were online they were dismissed in some respects by the administration until the students petitioned to have their concerns taken seriously. Connected the oppression to what had come before regarding Las Hijas De Cuauhtémoc. Sexism / old school Chicano lineage. See Facebook page.

Discussion of the linage of violence, university as a site of violence as well as education. History/memory related to Anna NietoGomez’ while at CSUN.  Chicano studies unhappy that NietoGomez approved reporting child abuse by campus leader to authorities. [Report violence against children!] Sylvia Castillo pointed out that some of the people who were responsible for the funeral at CSULB are here and there never has been an apology from those actually involved. Antonia Castañeda made the point that it’s not too late for there to be a public acknowledgement of the wrongs done.