Below is the reflection of Fernando Lopez (organizer with the Congreso de Jornaleros) on why he is attending the founding convening of Mijente. More information and the application form for Lánzate – The Jump Off in Chicago December 12th & 13th is available here.
First of all, I want to acknowledge a few things. The first thing is how much it cost and the dozens of conversations that took to come up with the name, and with the J instead of G. But what I valued the most was to see the feeling and intention put into creating something out – somehow a new alternative, but based on our core values as individuals and community. These core values are fairness, justice, culture, inclusion and struggle.
I’m very interested in the ideas and minds behind this project. As it delves into something more real, in something that many have chosen not to talk about. Even though forecasts and surveys and censuses say that the so called Latino community will be the majority in the United States in 2050, we must ask ourselves if being the majority will be enough – if being Latino is enough.
The reality is that the community is under attack, but not all of us realize it. And yes, the biggest problem we face is racism caused by the idea of white supremacy. Because even if you are documented or citizen, and even if we become the majority in this country, the people in charge of government will create ways to plunder power, incriminate, imprison and kill us slowly.
It is therefore essential to understand that not only the Latino community, Xicanx, Mexicanx, Chapin, Catrachx, Salvatrucha, Indigenous or however you want to identify – is under such direct attack. It is essential to understand that these attacks are against any person who has a skin tone other than white. For this reason, it is important to deepen, analyze and question everything that, for a long time, nobody wanted to mention.
The reality is that in our own community, there are also many racial prejudices (we do not say that our community is racist, because that is an escape route for white people to justify their own racism). These prejudices deceive us and separate us from other communities, or that cause division even within our own community – are the product of the same oppression that has been implemented in us for centuries. That’s why I think that being a majority in this country will not be enough, not without political, economic power and above all, human consciousness.
Mijente makes room for a much-needed conversation, a subject that has only been behind the curtains and has never been featured on our movements. The reality is that we are the most diverse community on the planet. Indigenous, African, Indian, Asian and other ancestries – and unfortunately also European – and we have something in common – the language, but there are “Latinos” who do not speak Spanish. And this is all part of the universe that is our community. But this was not voluntary. It is only the result of the real problem we face.
If we intend to make an impact in the forge of our future, we must first learn where we came from, what has been our history and has been what has forged us as a people. Understand that we are the product of colonization and that it is sometimes difficult to claim an identity, given that everything was taken from us and made us believe that we are something we are not.
No, I can’t borrow something that has always been mine. It’s something I always remember every moment of this struggle. My identity as a human being is only a reflection of what my ancestors and I have endured, and I see in Mijente the vision of holding a space where issues like these can be discussed. A platform that will open the space for dialogue to understand that even though we come in different forms, with different languages, colors and preferences, we have something in common – that is the trauma and resistance within us as people, as individuals.
I’m excited about this, because we have had enough. I do not have much experience on this, but I’ve noticed that the strategies of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were effective at the time, but we need to reinvent themselves and adapt, learning the lessons of these past experiences, but do not try to repeat again and again. I think our people holds too much potential. The problem has been a lack of focus, lack of intention from large organizations in empowering communities and not political agendas. I think there are many people with experience who we can learn from – likewise, there is many people with new ideas eager to learn and contribute.
Obviously our struggle as individuals or community is not only about the difference of races and classism. This is just one of the layers of the problem we face as human beings. That is why the idea of being inclusive of other communities and other sectors such as environmental, are necessary elements for a real change. Also to understand the impact of other sectors on our communities, like capitalism, patriarchy and religion – and how these have influenced the conditions in which we live today, and the reason why our people are so displaced around the world.
Mijente gives me hope. It makes me think we still have a chance to reform ourselves as a community, to stop being the ball being in the political game of this country. It’s the opportunity to challenge the narrative that has been imposed by the right and often also by the left. To challenge our very own beliefs of what we are worth – to define ourselves.