Description of the image: a congregation of protesting women of color, depicted in black and white, holding picket signs. One of them reads "We demand reproductive freedom for all women!"
In light of the 12 fallacies brought forward by The Human Betterment Foundation, I believe it is important to counter them by telling the stories of 12 women who consistently work to refute such dangerous radicalized and ableist rhetoric. In No Más Bebés, the film mentioned above, one sees the courage of women adversely affected by forced sterilization and their conviction on combating such a dehumanizing practice. Inspired by these women, I have created a list of 12 women who have helped shape my values as a Hispanic-American, and who postulate their own 12 pillars for developing a healthy society. If these 12 women had not been born, I can say with certainty that our society would be worse-off.
Doctora Dolores Delgado Bernal
Colored picture of Dr. Bernal, wearing a blue blazer, black shirt, and blue neckless and earnings.
1. To catalyze social progression, we, as Chicanx individuals, must embrace our testomonios - our oral tradition - and bequeath it to the next generation. Doctora Dolores Delgado Bernal is a self-identified Chicana feminist methodologies, whose work critically analyzes "educational (in)equity, Latinx educational pathways, feminista pedagogies, and different forms of resistance." She grew up in a Mexican-American household, and graduated from UCLA with a Ph.D in Chicano Studies. She recently came to speak at UC Berkeley, giving a talk to the Casa Magdalena Mora Theme house program about her seminal paper, "Examining Transformational Resistance Through a Critical Race and Latcrit Theory Framework: Chicana and Chicano Students in an Urban Context." As the Theme House Residential Assistant, I witnessed Doctora Bernal explain how Lain-American oral tradition is rooted in resilience and persistence. She explained that our "barrios" and our "comunidades" depend on us to keep our history, our language, and our culture alive in order to create a country where all feel welcome. She inculcated in us the value of loving our brown skin, our Spanish, our danza, and the dangers of hiding it behind our English, our western-education, or our ability to pass. She is an inspiration to all who listen to her, as she truly proves that Hispanic culture is a seminal part of the Californian identity. This culture is not one to expunge, but rather to embrace.
Colore picture of Diana Lizarraga, center left, interacting with students as she gives a presentation. She is wearing a blue vest and a "super-woman" shirt. She is smiling and gesturing with positive emotion white the students behind her smile.
2. To develop an educated and responsible society, we must take action to advance marginalized communities who have not had the privileges of elite schooling. Diana Lizarraga, one of the founders of the Cal Nerds program, is an instrumental STEM-inist at UC Berkeley. For over 20 years, Lizarrga has fought for representation of minority communities in STEM, a field that is predominately white and male. She provides vision for diversity initiatives (ex: STEMinist data science and coding boot camps in R/Python and technology-centric work-flow management). Her bio on the Cal Nerds website reads, "She works to recruit and build vibrant student communities (especially with first-generation and women in Tech), promote career opportunities, and close achievement gaps for educationally disadvantaged and non-traditional students." Moreover, she directs a budget of over 4,500,000 dollars to make sure these communities are getting the assistance they need to succeed in a field biased against people low-income, low-funded communities. All in all, Lizarrga is "re-engineering" Berkeley's education system to better society by fostering bright minds in places overlooked by anglo-centric academia.
A head-shot of Sonya Sotomayor wearing a black jacket and looking up at the camera while smiling
3. "Until we get equality in education, we won't have an equal society." We must create spaces in schools for students of disadvantaged backgrounds so that the doors that seemed perpetually closed are opened at last. Years after Brown v. Board of education, this quote by Sonya Sotomayor still stands true. As a Supreme Court Justice, Sotomayor is an embodiment of Latina power and potential. Sotomayor was born in Brooklyn to Puerto Rican parents, and got her JD from Yale Law school, after which she worker her way up circuit courts up to the Supreme Court. Thought her work, Sotomayor has challenged the education systems by writing passionate dissents on racially charged cases such as Schuette v. BAMN, Utah v. Strieff, and Trump v. Hawaii. Most notably though, Sonya Sotomayor was instrumental in legalizing gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, proving how instrumental having someone who understands the difficulties of prejudice involved in legislation and constitutional analysis. Not only though her simple existence as a powerful woman in politics, but though her prolific accomplishments, Sotomayor demonstrates the potential of Latina women to better the United States when given the chance.
Black and White picture of Sylvia Rivera with her hair down and looking stoically into the camera. She has a hairband and dark lipstick on.
4. The rights of all women, cis or trans, rich or poor, brown or white or anything in-between, are central in developing an American society that is consonant with the freedom we claim to uphold as a nation. Sylvia Rivera was a trans woman and a community leader in New York City, best known for her contributions as a social justice warrior and her work progressing queer and trans rights. Some of her contributions include co-founding STAR, an organization dedicated to serving the homeless LGBTQ+ community, as well as advocating for the passage of SONDA, a law implemented in NY that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Sylvia Rivera’s politics stressed the importance of addressing systematic poverty and inequality that intersects with multiple aspects levels of our identity as Latinx individuals. She was heavily involved in the investigation of Marsha P Johnson’s murder by the police and in the years leading up to her death, she revitalized her political advocacy for trans rights. The politics of the new millennium represented a divergence from the radical politics of the 60s that Rivera supported. Angered by what she deemed to be an assimilationist agenda, Rivera denounced the efforts centering around inclusion into the military and state recognition of marriage, instead suggesting that the movement center its efforts around poverty and inequality.
A colored picture of Elvira Arellano, who is wearing a brown dress and a rosary. She is hugging her son, who is small and is wearing a black shirt. Elvira and her son both have dark skin, brown eyes, and are looking at the camera seriously.
5. The sanctity of families supersedes the validity of laws that seek to criminalize parents who are looking to give their children better futures. Elvira Arellano is a Mexican activista (activist) who defends the human rights of undocumented immigrants, especially those of parents. In 2002, she fell into immigration custody and instead of appearing to her hearing, Arellano took refuge in a church to fight against the separation from her son. In 2007, Arellano was arrested and deported after leaving her refuge to attend a rally in L.A. for the undocumented community. She continued fighting for her rights within Mexico and in 2015 was allowed to return to the United States. Arellano’s conviction in her rights as a mother helped fuel a movement against the separation of families.
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez
A colored picture of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez sitting on a staircase with tattered black paint. She is wearing a turquoise suit with black shoes. She has her hair down and is wearing lip red lipstick. She is staring stoically into the camera with her hands crossed and leaning in.
6. The sage voices of working-class women of color cannot and will not be muffled -- they are the ones who truly understand what it means to be an American and struggle like one, despite juxtaposing the American prototype entirely. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez made history during the 2018 congressional elections by becoming the youngest Mujer (woman) ever elected to Congress. She broke headlines after beating Congressman Joe Crowley, a 10 term democratic and the 4th most powerful Democrat in House. Ocasio broke political and cultural barriers by highlighting her gender, age, and cultural background. She has gained celebrity for going against the status quo and defending the rights of the working class. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is most famous for reshaping the values of the democratic party towards a progressive body that is uncompromising when facing issues like climate change and gun issues. Her most ambitious project thus far has been the Green New Deal, a comprehensive call for reform that would dramatically improve American's relationship with environmental sustainability.
A black and white picture of Sandra Cisneros sitting with her legs up on a couch. She is wearing dark jeans, a loose fitting shirt, and no shoes. Her hair is black and curly, and she is staring into the camera with a serious face.
7. Allowing people of oppressed communities to express themselves through literature and art is essential in defining and exploring the multivalent framework of American society. Without understanding who we are, we will never understand how to better ourselves. Sandra Cisneros is a Renaissance woman of the literary world; she writes poetry, short stories, novels, essays, and performances that analyze the lives of the working-class. One of her most famous works is her novella The House on Mango Street, which details the growth of a young Latina girl in Chicago as she discovers herself in the context of 20th century mid-western America. Her numerous awards include NEA fellowships in both poetry and fiction, the Texas Medal of the Arts, a MacArthur Fellowship, several honorary doctorates and national and international book awards, including Chicago’s Fifth Star Award, the PEN Center USA Literary Award, and the National Medal of the Arts award presented to her by President Obama in 2016.
A colored headshot of Cherríe Morga smiling at the camera. She is wearing a gray shirt, gold earring, and is against a turquoise background. She has short hair, tan skin, and dark eyes. She also has a beauty mark on the top right corner of her mouth.
8. Understanding and asking important questions regarding the multifaceted identities of Americans as they emerge into politics is critical in representing the true interests of our people. Cherríe is an openly gay Chicana writer who was one of the first authors to introduce the idea of Chicana Liberalism into literature. In 2009 Moraga published the essay “Still Loving in the (Still) War Years: On Keeping Queer Queer", through which she questioned the mainstreaming of LGBT politics. Thought the essay she also analyzed the position of transgender people in queer communities and critiqued the augmenting appearance of trans issues in LGBT politics. She sustains that young people are being pressured into transitioning by the larger queer culture, stating “the transgender movement at large, and plain old peer pressure, will preempt young people from residing in that queer, gender-ambivalent site for as long and as deeply as is necessary.” The intersectionality that not only Cherríe embodies, but analyzes thoroughly, makes her work essential in defining how the progressive movement manifests itself for queer Latinx individuals.
A black and white headshot of Virginia Espino wearing sunglasses and smiling at the camera. She has her hair down and is wearing earrings. She is also wearing a back turtleneck sweater.
9. American society suffers when people are complacent with the oppression of other Americans. It is though perpetual inquisition and analysis of our cultural practices that we can break our cycle of marginalizing people we have naively labeled as "lesser." Virginia Espino is a Chicana film producer that produced the groundbreaking film No Más Bebés. This documentary, detailing the clandestine sterilization of Latina women in LA County during the 1960s and '70s though government-sponsored eugenic efforts, was central in educating later generations of the dangers of eugenics and general complacency during times of systematic oppression. Her work specifically demonstrates the tremendous psychological and emotional consequences that such racist and targeted efforts had on the Latinx community in California. Nevertheless, her work also demonstrated the uplifting social and legal achievements that can be galvanized by activism. In doing so, Espino demonstrates both the dangers of social complacency in the face of oppressive practices as well as the power of individuals to cause systemic changes for the better. She now works at UCLA, doing research regarding population control efforts in California and in the United States through the Chicano studies department. As a Latina feminista, Virginia Espino embodies what it means to devote yourself to social betterment, not though racist and/or gilded agendas, but through compassion, empathy, and a passion for critical analysis of social dynamics.
A colored headshot of Antonia Hernandez smiling and looking directly at the camera. She has her hair back and is smiling. She is wearing a pink blazer, a pearl neckless, and pearl earrings.
10. Inciting courage within marginalized communities can often uncover shared experiences that uplift others who before though they were alone. Acknowledging the harms that have been done to communities of color is the first step in remedying the harm done to them. Antonia Hernández is a Latina attorney, activist, and philanthropist currently serving as the President and CEO of the California Community Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on addressing the needs of marginalized communities in the Los Angeles area, specifically people of color and low income. Antonia Hernández is most well known for her involvement in Madrigal v. Quilligan (1975), the class action lawsuit filed by ten Latina women who were sterilized at the Los Angeles County Hospital without consent. Despite having lost the case, Antiona Hernandez demonstrates how mobilizing legally and socially can eventually lead to great progress toward lawful protection. Moreover, she demonstrates how fostering courage within the Latinx community can amplify our voices and uncover shared experiences that were before silences by shame and oppressive practices.
Picture of Patricia Macari smiling, looking beyond the camera to the side. She is wearing a white blouse, red earrings, and polarized glasses. She is sitting and has her arm around a cushion.
11. Having pride and conviction in one's Latinx identity is important in helping others do the same. Visibility and community are catalysts for representation and strength. Patricia Macari, a close family friend of ours, is an amazing exemplification of what it means to work for the advancement of the Latinx community within medicine. As a young adult, she moved to the United States to study English, and now is a professional interpreter for Spanish speakers at the Davis Hospital. She dedicates herself constantly to make sure patients are fully informed of what is happening within the clinic as to maximize transparency and make people who already face a language barrier do not feel more out of touch than they already often do, especially with a topic as personal as health. Patricia also avidly engages with Argentinian culture in Davis, often organizing cultural exchange events, asados (Argentinian barbeques), and musical executions, as well as general Latin dance performances. She embodies the pride and spirit that define the Latinx indemnity unapologetically.
A colored headshot of Cecilia holding a leaf from the vineyard plants she is investigating. She is wearing a blue sweatshirt and a green t-shirt. She is smiling and looking at the camera. Her hair is short and she is wearing earrings and a neckless.
12. First generation Latinx immigrants often give up a lot to afford their kids a better future. Welcoming immigrants and giving them the chance to find a home in the United States not only permits them to find security but also to contribute to our pre-established communities. Cecilia Agüero is a genetic researcher at UC Davis, a professor at Santa Rosa Junior College, and an ex-professor La Universidad Nacional de Cuyo in Mendoza, Argentina. She currently researches the resistance sequence for Fan Leaf in Vines, a disease that causes millions of dollars worth of crop damage in California. She is widely published and is soon to become a senior specialist researcher at the university. Before Cecilia was able to become the seller researcher she is, though, she had to move to the United States to pursue an education. Cecilia moved from Argentina to pursue a Ph.D. as a full bright scholar and was fully funded. Despite speaking Spanish and Italian as a first and second language, she worked hard to learn English; she did this not only while mastering her studies and researching, but while raising a newborn baby boy as well. Cecilia's experience with members of her community has also lead her to become a passionate activist, working with church leadership and for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election cycle in order to further Latinx interests in California. She has sacrificed a lot, leaving her family, moving halfway across the world to pursue a better future for herself and her family, and because of that, I can say I could not ask for a better mother. I love her eternally.
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“Who Was Sylvia Rivera?” SRLP (Sylvia Rivera Law Project), 19 Feb. 2019, srlp.org/about/who-was-sylvia-rivera/.
Wolf, Jessica. “UCLA Professor's Film Documents Forced Sterilization of Mexican Women in Late '60s and Early '70s L.A.” UCLA, UCLA, 25 Oct. 2017, newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/ucla-professor-s-film-documents-forced-sterilization-of-mexican-women-in-late-60s-l-a.
“Virginia Espino.” UCLA Department of Chicana/o Studies, www.chavez.ucla.edu/content/virginia-espino.