"Mujeres Escondidas": A Herstory of Four Mexican-American Migrant Women

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Wirpsa, Leslie Gaye
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Dear Lourdes, Cuca, Costanza, Chole, As a privileged-racist-white woman, I thank you. As a privileged-racist-white woman, I apologize to you for the ways in which my ignorance and the ignorance of so many of our sisters and brothers have contributed to your colonization, to your discrimination, to your exploitation: to your marginality, and to your pain. We, the dominant culture· of the United States of America, have basically continued what the "conquistadores" from Spain began in Mexico and Latin America 465 years ago. The primary difference is that we have not formally colonized you instead we have executed an ongoing manipulation of your lives and your people in order to form a more perfect,. internal colony within the territorial boundaries of the United States--- land which your Indian foremothers and forefathers inhabited, farmed, and nurtured long before our foremothers and forefathers recklessly arrived here. The cultural holocaust this side of the ocean has not been forged in ovens nor in concentration camps, but that does not lessen its insidious nature. After spending six weeks sharing in your everyday lives in rural, southwestern Michigan, I have now returned to the insular life of an upper-middle class college student to try to write something which might communicate your experiences to others. Judith Moschovich, a Jewish feminist, once wrote, "How can one feel guilt about screwing over someone/some country that she knows nothing about?" When I first thought about speaking with all of you to write about your lives, it occurred to me that I and so many of my companeros from the university had not even the slightest idea that so many Mexican-American migrant people lived within 50 miles of our prestigious institution. Very few of us had ever stopped to think about the hands that had picked the fruit and vegetables which we daily consumed at the school cafeteria, about the lives which supported our comfort and privilege. Although I have changed you names in the following pages, I will not allow that your lives remain-invisible. I have taken some liberties in interpreting certain things that I saw or that you mentioned; however, I have tried to keep my voice and expression at a minimum. Despite the fact that many of the superficial details of this work are fiction, such as names, exact number of children, the content of this work holds close to the facts which you communicated to me. I tried to speak with you instead of for you; I tried to speak with our readers instead of at them. I hope that this, our co-creation, may begin to soften the fears and dissolve the ignorances which are the roots of prejudice, discrimination, and oppression. I hope that together we can begin to open those "white eyes (which) do not want to know {you)." (Gloria Anzaldua--This Brirlge Called My Back) En Sinceridad, Leslie Gaye Wirpsa
ii, 69 p.
Kalamazoo, Mich. : Kalamazoo College.
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