Cisneros, Abortions, Identity...Oh My!
Many things in my life have been overlapping lately, especially readings for my classes that touch on my own personal interests, such as personal identity. But I experience this the most
with kick ass Chicana authors, or “women of letters,” as Sandra Cisneros recently put it in her Jezebel interview. It has only been within the past few months that I’ve really sat myself down to read much by Sandra Cisneros or Gloria Anzaldua, but now that I have, I really wish I had done it sooner. As a mixed race person, my identity has always been really hard to navigate. But one of the ways I realized that I am the most privileged when it comes to my identity has been the way that I have never felt othered. I’ve grown up in a community where many people identify the same way I do because I was born and raised on the border -- which is such a powerful and divisive symbol for so many people’s identities, cultures, and languages here in El Paso. The culture here is so ingrained in so many aspects of my life -- language, holidays, religion, family, food -- that I’m almost not even conscious of it anymore, or the ways that it is different from more dominant white culture. In fact, it wasn’t until my second or third year in college that I said to my best friend: “Dude, I’m Mexican. I’m Mexican.” And since then, it has been an ongoing struggle for me to define my place in my queer body, in my border home, and in reproductive justice work.In her Jezebel interview, Sandra Cisneros is asked many questions about her newest book, A House of My Own. One of her responses stood out to me greatly. The interviewer, Tina Vasquez, asks: “When and why have you felt most at home in your body and in your home, are they one in the same, do they rarely overlap, do they always overlap?” Then Cisneros responds: “They’re the same thing. When I feel safe in my home, I feel safe in my body and vice versa.”
This was when I realized the importance of the work that West Fund does in this community both for abortion access and for culture shift. Cisneros’ experiences of having not felt safe in her home and in her body are not that unique. Men, the family, the home, and serving these things are realities for many Chican@s on the border and elsewhere. And in order to move past these boundaries, a person must feel safe in their bodies. They must have the power to decide what they want to do with their bodies so that they are able to defy any stereotypes or boundaries forced onto them.
As this Hispanic Heritage month ends, I am left with a feeling of honor to work with the West Fund. In working for equitable access to abortion care, not only are we helping our patients assert their own agency, we are helping our patients make their own decisions. And in doing this, we are assuring that Chican@s can have lives that surpass any boundary, role, or expectation pushed onto them. We’re funded by our community and people across the country who want to see Texans have abortion access. You can chip in here.
-Alyssah Roth President, West Fund