Essay excerpts                                                                                                                  © by Beatriz Badikian-Gartler

     Women of color speak (to each other)

 Dr. Beatriz Badikian-Gartler

     ... The sites of struggle for Latina and Black women intersect more often than not.  Sometimes our paths run parallel to each other and, once in a while, they diverge. Nevertheless, we are almost invariably the "subaltern" in the dominant culture; the "other" in the mainstream; at the "margins" of a center occupied by white, mostly male residents.   In the face of racism and sexism, African-American and Latina women need to examine and become aware of our identities; we need to "turn to (each other) as potential allies," writes Barbara Smith in the collection Yours in Struggle, where she calls for an "awareness of oppression."

     Before all these realizations ever crystallized in the present effort, i had spent approximately twenty years living in the United States.  I arrived in this country in 1970, settling in Chicago's southwest side after a short journey to the West and back.  Having come of age in the sixties, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I experienced, mostly through television, those stormy and radical years of demonstrations, hippies, and revolutionary changes in our every day life.  My classmates and I marched in solidarity with the Civil Rights marchers, the Anti-Vietnam War demonstrators.  We shared their struggles as well as their triumphs, albeit from afar.  However and paradoxically, nothing had prepared me for what I found here and came to learn in the years following my arrival, and what I still have to live and struggle with, despite all those marches, rallies, despite all the people who gave their lives in the name of peace and understanding.

     Racism, thick and oppressive, slapped me on the face from the first moment I set foot on the streets of New York.  Then, through Long Beach, Los Angeles, and finally in Chicago, it continued to shock me every time I heard it or felt it as if it were the first time.  It still does.  ...

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