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I fell in love with political theory because it included a teeny tad about being a woman, being a mother, being queer, being raza, being part of a group damned as purposely unemployed.

But every one of my experiences is reduced in the university, just as my formerly upwardly-mobile ("inching," would be a better word) standard of living had been reduced. In exchange for the higher education mi comunidad cherishes and holds in such high regard, I am asked to raise an adolescent on about $100 a month, and to pay twice the rent of single students, and get myself thousands of dollars into debt doing it. My option is AFDC/welfare/institutionalized dehumanization. Of course, I could also write grant proposals talking about how I'm going to study what I have been experiencing for 34 years now: planned poverty, planned subservience, planned cultural and human genocide; the fear, apathy born of hopelessness, and disgust that makes the very sloppy planning so goddamned effective.

These institutions are not going to give us any means whatsoever of achieving that security and comfort I want for my son, and for me, and for my lover. We've been beating and begging our way through their doors for at least a century on this continent; many centuries, if you count the struggles to simply survive as a people. All I end up with in following the rationale for me to keep on keepin' on with this set-up is the tenuous hope for some personal rewards, against a continual societal disregard for all the peoples I am and have chosen to actively "re-present": my gendered, racial, cultural, sexual, parenting selves.

That's what being an out queer latina working single madre is to me. Every thing I am is supposed to be shameful. No way. Ever since I recognized the quality of the accomplishments of what would be defined as my "shameful" family, immediate and adopted, recognized and not, with all its anglo-defined "failures," I have not truly felt shame. I feel frustration, fury, despair, rage, determination, disgust, and amazement even still taking the shape of disbelieving belly laughter, but no shame.

It's amazing to hear so much from so many who never experienced this and expect they never will, who lay out their expectations that I should be grateful for the opportunity that I have been given to stick around and get further and further in debt, to get a piece of paper in the field of education (where I am forbidden to practice with the public school minors in 99% of the school districts in the U.S. and abroad because I am queer). And this is a field which preaches like nobody I ever heard even in the Puertorican Pentecostal revivals, and which seems to enjoy wallowing in the filth of its "double-bind" for being sooo liberal and caring, but is so invested on working from within, that it ends up doing nothing but perpetuating itself, while telling me to shut up and stop being so aggressive and demanding and political.

My various educations have transformed me into a toll plaza for the privileged to pay for their access to the exploited, and for the exploited to gain access to the institutions of the privileged at no or reduced gain, material and spiritual. I don't want to do that. So I want out. The battle has become too theoretical here. I can't fight without troops; I don't wanna be a fucking heroine. I want to do what I know I can do well, and that's gain acceptance from and work with communities that are so supposedly heterosexist, racist, classist, sexist and abilist that they would automatically and permanently reject me. I have experienced otherwise, and I do keep the faith that we will strive and grow to understand and accept our varied brothers and sisters, because we all know deep down we'll die if we don't. I'm tired of the "marginalized" "discourse"; both terms have saturated my being with a weariness that should only be the property of the true bourgeoisie, not the working-class cachapera puertorriqueña mother that I am.

We can be anything in terms of labels and "professions," but what is always visible to anyone who's lookin' is what we do. Very little has happened according to my plans; like my friend Mavis says, "Man [sic] plans and God [sic] laughs." As a single parent, I keep trying to do what I don't have to be ashamed for, and I am sinvergüenza, you hear me? 'Cause I don't buy the shit that there is anything to be ashamed of in work that entails reversing prior damages and creating something nurturing in its place. That feels "culturally true" to me, and I think and feel that this is, reactionary and un-postmodern as it may seem, an almost universal human feeling, to want to cooperate and feel secure and relatively unthreatened. As for myselves and those I most love, I want to stop all of us from being threatened and abused. For me, that's the only show in town. I'll have to do it outside of academia so long as it only accommodates those who make a living out of exploiting and/or excluding my communities. Tokenism doesn't satisfy me.

Excesses. I love learning and listening and acting on my feelings; and I especially love being a mother to my son. He is caring and confident to levels I have yet to achieve myself. I've worked hard to claw out an environment where that could happen; he's settled into that environment much more graciously that I have. He has some kind of faith and the obstinate expectation that he's had reinforced by William Franklin, our adopted "brother," who is steadily accomplishing what can be accomplished within this institution. William has taught us something precious my son and I have been working to internalize: Nobody can steal my joy. . .nobody gave it to me, and nobody can take it away.

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 "Excesses" ©1992, 1995 by Virgínia Vélez
 
     
 

 Original Graphic Images © 1995 by Jim Davis-Rosenthal
 


 

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