A Role Model: Matilde Lindo Crisanto

Being a Nicaraguan Caribbean woman means you need to be more aware of your identity.

The International Day Against Women Violence was celebrated on the 25ht of November. Globally, many women took the streets or social media platforms to demonstrate once more that this pandemic affects all of us. A lot of women and girls have been victims of gender-based violence at home, at work, on the streets, and in other places. On the other hand, we also have many women leaders who campaign to put stop to this knotty issue that exists in our society.

After ending my bachelor’s degree, I returned to my hometown and started to participate in the Nidia White Women Movement activities, which protect women and girls against violence by giving advice, shelter, and legal accompanied during the process. Its office is located near my house. I knew several of the women who worked there. One was Matilde Lindo Crisanto, a strong Garifuna woman, active, and firm with her statements regarding women’s rights.

Lindo was the second of three siblings. Her father was Harold Lindo and her mother was Imogene Crisanto. After graduating from high school, she studied at the normal school in Waspan to become a teacher. Upon ending this period, she worked in the rural areas with the Miskito and Sumu communities. I recall Matilde being a teacher during my high school years. She taught Geography to both of my sisters at the Moravian Hight School, Juan Amos Comenius.  

My second sister remembers her like this. “Lindo was my geography teacher during my first year in high school in Nicaragua. She taught me Nicaraguan and Central American geography. Due to her passion for teaching the class, I grew to love the subject. It was definitely one of my favourites in high school. Beyond being a teacher, she was an advocate against violence. She voiced herself and fought for women’s rights and equality. Her voice was heard in and out of the classroom. It propelled in the community she served”.

Besides being a teacher, she was a fervent woman’s rights activist who stood up defending women of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. She began involving herself in the feminist movement during the late 80s, by participating in meetings, workshops, and conferences.

Furthermore, in 1995, she participated in the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing. Lindo was also a member of the Women’s Network’s Against Violence, an active member at the Creole Moravian Church, and the National Women Movement.

Shira Miguel, who is the coordinator of the Nidia White Movement where Lindo also worked, remembers her as a passionate woman. She expresses to Women Wheel that when she arrived at the movement, Lindo told her “This is not an easy road. First, when you talk about human rights especially women’s rights; there are lots of people who do not agree with it. Second, be clear that being in a feminist space does not mean that there is no discrimination, being a Caribbean Black or Indigenous woman is not the same as the rest”.

Moreover, Lindo stressed that violence was structural and that women violence in the Caribbean of Nicaragua was not the same as the one on Pacific Coast, which she said loudly and repeatedly on many occasions. Lindo’s trajectory as an activist is not only for the women of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, it’s also at a national level; thus we should embrace and learn from her legacy.

Lindo said, “I am from the black culture, we come from a tradition of the Goodness, queen of the nature, a tradition that reflects our way of being and practices”.

I would like each one of you to think of a black woman in your community who has been a role model for your actions, thoughts, and motivation as a black female. Join moving women stories by sharing your story with us!

Los pañuelos que usa el movimiento feminista tienen su historia y razón.

Los pañuelos verdes y púrpura: Símbolo del feminismo

Foto: Kimmo Lehtonen

El pañuelo es el accesorio infaltable y el más visible en las manifestaciones feministas. Desde que me uní al movimiento feminista fui testigo de la diversidad de formatos y accesorios que se usan para expresar ideas, anuncios, manifiestos, denuncias. En Paisajes discursivos en movimiento: análisis de la manifestación feminista del 8 de marzo de 2020 en Barcelona de Marín y Ribas (2020), se estudian el uso de las pancartas colectivas, los carteles individuales, las corporalizaciones, performances, pintadas, así como el de otros objetos y accesorios.

“Muchas manifestantes llevan camisetas, banderas en forma de capa, bolsas, pañuelos, coleteros y todo tipo de accesorios y maquillajes de este color con una única función: marcar su alineación y pertenencia al movimiento feminista” (Marín & Ribas, 2020, p.19).

¿Pero cuál es la historia del uso de los pañuelos? ¿Por qué nos hemos apropiado de ellos?

El uso del pañuelo verde se inició en Argentina en el 2005 con la campaña Nacional por el Derecho al Aborto Legal, Seguro y Gratuito, luego conocido cortamente como `La Campaña´. El movimiento feminista se inspiró en los pañuelos blancos que usan las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, las cuales protestan por sus hijas e hijos desaparecidos durante la dictadura de 1976-1983 en Argentina (Felitti & Romero, 2020).

El movimiento feminista eligió el color verde para luchar por los derechos reproductivos y sexuales, y más profundamente por el autoempoderamiento de nuestro cuerpo. Además, porque el color no esta relacionado a ningún partido político. El color verde significa “equilibrio, primavera, esperanza, razón, lógica, naturaleza, vegetación y crecimiento” (Molina, 2010 p. 6). El pañuelo verde se convirtió en el arma de lucha para las mujeres para decidir interrumpir un embarazo sin censura de ningún tipo ya sea de la sociedad o el sistema patriarcal. Es un símbolo de lucha por el aborto legal.

En el siguiente clip del programa La Marca del Almohadón de Radio Universidad Nacional de Rosario publicado el 29 de abril del 2018 puedes escuchar la voz de las mujeres dando más información sobre el pañuelo verde.

Programa La Marca del Almohadón

En el pañuelo se puede leer frases como: aborto legal para no morir, aborto seguro, gratuito, educación sexual para decidir y anticonceptivo para abortar. La Marea Verde frase que se usa para referirse a la campaña se expandió desde Argentina a otros países de América Latina y el Caribe desarrollándose de acuerdo con el contexto de cada país. Pese a las características particulares que la campaña toma en cada país siempre el pañuelo verde es símbolo de la legalización del aborto y de la lucha del movimiento feminista. Por ejemplo, en República Dominicana se ha adaptado para la campaña de #rd3casuales. Hoy en día también se puede ver el uso de este pañuelo en países europeos en solidaridad con la lucha feminista en América Latina (Felitti & Romero, 2020).

El segundo pañuelo del movimiento feminista es el pañuelo púrpura. Su uso se remonta a los pañuelos que portaban las sufragistas en Inglaterra y Estados Unidos como símbolo de su lucha por el derecho al voto e igualdad de derechos políticos para las mujeres. Actualmente el pañuelo color púrpura es uno de los símbolos más importantes del movimiento feminista. El pañuelo es usado en las marchas del 8 de marzo, en congresos o asambleas de mujeres, así como en diversas manifestaciones de lucha por la equidad de género, justicia y desarrollo del movimiento feminista.

Pañuelo Púrpura

El color violeta/púrpura según la psicología del color significa “experiencia, reflexión, sabiduría, independencia, es místico, melancólico, dignidad, realeza y firmeza” ( Molina, 2010, p.6).

A lo largo de estos últimos años he visto que ambos pañuelos se cuelgan del cuello, o se amarran a la muñeca. Los pañuelos no tienen fronteras, han cruzado océanos y países para seguir su lucha. Los pañuelos son locales e internacionales. Recuerdo que para el 8 de marzo Día Internacional de la Mujer del 2020 la Red de Mujeres en Finlandia co-organizamos con otras plataformas una marcha, allí muchas llevamos nuestros pañuelos púrpura o verde.

Los colores y estos pañuelos simbolizan las luchas de las mujeres a lo largo de la historia. Al usar los pañuelos púrpura o verde nos hacemos de ese poder mientras remarcamos nuestro mensaje de lucha. ¿Posees uno de los pañuelos? ¿Cuándo lo usas?

Despenalizar el aborto

¿Y vos que sabes del aborto en tu país? Es legal?

Hoy 28 de septiembre usemos nuestro pañuelo verde como símbolo de lucha por el derecho al  aborto legal, seguro y gratutito en América Latina y el Caribe. 

En Latinoamérica y el Caribe hay varios países donde las mujeres mueren por no poder practicar el aborto y existe violación de sus derechos sexuales y reproductivos y la violación física y psicológica.

Según el Center for Reproductive Rights en América Latina y el Caribe el mapa del estado ilegal o legal del aborto se ve así:  

El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Suriname y República Dominicana es prohibido por completo. El Salvador es uno de los países más rígidos, por ejemplo la condena a “Las 17” por más de 40 años de cárcel. 

Mientras que en las anteriores es un delito en otros el aborto es permitido bajo causales como: cuando el embarazo pone en riesgo la vida y salud de la mujer,  en caso de violación, estupro, incesto y deformación o inviabilidad del feto. Entre los países donde es permitido el aborto por uno o más de estos causales tenemos a Belice, Brasil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Perú, Panama y Venezuela. 

México es particular ya que opera bajo un sistema federal, donde cada estado es independiente y por lo tanto ejerce las restricciones de acuerdo a las leyes del estado. Sin embargo, en todo el país es permitido en caso de violación, pero muchas veces no se accede porque hay obstáculos para la ejecución. Un ejemplo claro de ello se dio en junio de este año en Morelia cuando se le negó el aborto a una menor que fue violada por su padrastro. 

En Cuba, Guyana, Guyana Francesa, Uruguay y Puerto Rico y Argentina es permitido el aborto sin condiciones en las primeras semanas de gestación y bajo el plazo establecido por la ley. 

La historia sigue y no termina. Este jueves veremos el caso de Texas y Coahuila, México.

Queremos aborto seguro y gratuito! Es un derecho de las mujeres.

Foto de portada: Kimmo Lethonen/Chile, 2019

Black Feminism Talk

On July 25th, we proudly celebrate International Afro Women’s Day.

Yesterday, we celebrated International Afro-Latin American, Caribbean, and Diaspora Women’s Day, which was established in the Dominican Republic on July 25th, 1992, and  where women from 32 countries gathered to discuss issues related to their fight and resistance. 

I would like to share with you some of the highlights points of the panel discussion Black Feminism and culture in the Nordics: Who gets to be heard, that was head months ago and organized by the Astra journal and Nordic Culture Point.The panel discussion was moderated by Jasmine Kelakey, an Afro Finish-Swedish, who is an activist focused on anti-black racism and black activism in the Nordics. The guest speakers of the panel were Monica Gathuo, a digital media producer for black women in Finland, and co-coordinator of the Anti-Racism Media Activist Alliance (ARMA); Judith Kiros, based in Sweden, a poet, literature scholar, journalist, who also had participated in several anti-black platforms; Phyllis Akinyi, a Danish- Kenyan choreographer, dancer, performer and researcher; and Deise Faira Nunes, who is based in Norway and is an art researcher, performance practitioner, and freelance writer.

Different background scenarios such as coffees shop, plants and books, map on the wall, or simply a white wall, were the scenes of these women who talked about the fundamental of understanding black feminism, why it’s necessary to be heard, seen, and spoken to make a difference.

Here are some points raised during the discussion:

  • Black feminism has its roots in the United State of America; however, they are other black women groups in many corners of the globe. E.g. Caribbean, Brazilian etc.
  • Black feminism is a pillar for our foundation and thus tells the stories that need to be heard.
  • Experience of “othering” is not the same here in the Nordics as across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Black feminism is an inspiration for solidarity, building communities, bringing joy to our lives, and making changes. It is not only about our struggles.
  • The Black Live Matters manifestation that took place last year in the Nordic countries gave a huge push for a deeper discussion about black topics and the change of black narrative; nevertheless, it is a transit moment that can burn us out. It is important to remember that this moment will dissolve but we will continue being black.
  • The language that is used about black feminism needs to change, develop, and take into consideration research and dictionaries that are done by others.
  • How does representation need to be approached, should we continue to play the game of the systems or focus on our own?
  • Blackness is not homogenous, regardless weather we have similarities, we also have differences.
  • Scandinavian countries are categorized as democratic and have high freedom of speech; however, the issue of racism is present, there is a lack of awareness but also denial. The mainstream or public discourse narratives argue that racism occurs in the USA, but not here.
  • The four panelists hope that the struggle, fight and actions they are doing today may be beneficial for the future generation, and that the situation may be different and better for them.

“I can’t separate myself from black feminism, I am a black feminism,” said Phyllis Akinyi.

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

Bell hooks

Parenting plays an important role to fight the patriarchal system.

Last year, I wrote a piece about black female writers. While doing my research, I remember finding the name of Bell hooks in many occasions. However, I don’t know why I didn’t include her name in the written lists. The other occasion when I heard her name, it was at a two panel discussion about black women which I attended. Her name was constantly repeated among the panellists, saying how she was a great influence for their development as a writes, poets, activists, and feminists.   

After hearing so much about her, I decided that is was time that I learn more about who she is and what she has done for the black community. So, I invite you as well to join this learning journey with me.

Bell hooks is the pseudonym of Gloria Jean Watkins, who was born on the 25th of September, 1952, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, United States of America, where she experienced segregation.  She is a writer, scholar, and activist who has studied and critiqued topics such as race, gender, class, and identity of black women.  She studied at three universities where she obtained her degrees, master’s and doctoral.

The first time I saw her last name spelt in lowercase letter, I thought it was a mistake. It drew my attention. According to the reading from Britannica, her intention is that individuals will focus on her message and not on her. Hooks was her great-grandmother’s last name which she adopted to honour the legacy of her female ancestors.

Bell hooks has developed the Elbell hooks Institute where she hosts discussion with other scholars, orators, and activists about topics such as patriarchy, feminists, racism, violence, spirituality, and so on. For example, she has guest speakers as Gloria Steinem, Berttina Love, Damon Young, and others. This institute has become an international reference to discussions on these topics.

During the years hooks has centralized her thoughts and critiques on the following points:

  • Feminism is not only equality. It goes beyond this, is to finish sexism and oppression. Men are not our enemy, it’s the patriarchal system. We need to change it, not to adapt it.
  • She animates that it’s important to dig in more to feminism, not to stay with what is heard on the media. Go beyond to understand that is not about women that want to be equal to men or create an anti-men movement.
  • It’s important to confront and transform our inter-enemy that has been instilled in us as a child before facing the sexism system. For example, to judge one and another and be hassled among ourselves.
  • She argues that it’s important to establish a feminist-gender equality education policy at school, so future generation of women and men can grow up without sexism. I recall that in 2017, in Finland, each student from ninth-grade was given a free copy (translated) of the book We should all be Feminists writtenbyChimamanda Ngozi.
  • Sisterhood is a significant tool to combat and transform the system.

In an interview conducted by David Remnick for The New Yorker Radio Hour in November, 2017, she stresses that males who commit violence against women mostly had a violence background in their childhood as well as in the way they we grew up.

Another highlight of the interview is that “patriarchy doesn’t have a gender”. Parenting plays a fundamental role to fight the patriarchal system, it is necessary to raise boys and girls the same way. This last point made me recall a friend who is mother of twin boys. One day while we were conversing, she said that she didn’t want to teach her boys not to be sentimental. For example, to tell them, “Boys don’t cry”. On the contrary, she wants them to learn to have feeling. I think this is an essential tool for all parents and the society.

“If we don’t try to understand the male psyche, we cannot solve the problem”.  

Bell hooks

 

Photo taken from Ebell hooks Institute Facebook page.