Wednesday, March 14, 2012

'Otra mentira disfrazada de justicia': Peer leader discusses shooting in la 'L' (4 a.m. - March 14th)

Versiones del ataque en el Bronx (la 'L'):


'Mi versión en unas preguntas':
(escrito por una líder par del equipo IAP)

[14 de Marzo, 1:27 p.m.] "...Desde mi punto de vista...¿Cuándo se han preocupado antes por el muerte de 'indigentes' cuando la misma policía se encarga de pegarles?  ¿Cómo van a interesar en el ataque a 'indigentes' cuando ellos mismos quieren eliminar a los habitantes de la calle ... cuando ellos mismos los atacan...? ¿Hicieron una investigación igual en el Cartucho cuando murieron tantas personas en el ataque al Presidente?"

"Esta mañana cuando pasé por la 'L' [el Bronx] y me enteré del ataque a las tres a tres policías arrastrando a un habitante de calle... ¿Este acto demuestra interés en la vida de ellas/ellos?"

"¿Los medios comunican una noticia como esta porque están indignados por la situación o porque quieren tener la mejor noticia del día?... Si quisieran tener la mejor fuente de información la averiguarían con las mismas personas de la 'L' que saben lo que realmente sucede en su espacio ... ¿Acaso el policía duerme, vive o comparte con ellos?"

"Estoy cansada que acaban con vidas humanas...que golpean a habitantes de la calle....que abusan de trabajadores sexuales...que desaparecen a habitantes de la calle... que los dejan morir en la calle un día y el otro día (enfrente de los medios) hablan de su estado crítico en el hospital..."

"...Destapemos las mentiras que hay en esta ciudad...necesitamos a toda una ciudad indignada para cambiar la historia de la ciudad... ya no nos dejemos apagar las voces…"

Escrito por 'El Silencio que Quiere a Gritos Decir la Verdad'  
 (líder par, equipo IAP)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Breaking the silence...

After finishing a short-term consulting project on human trafficking and youth in the sex trade in Colombia, a student emailed me a link to this song by Calle 13 entitled 'Prepare (me) dinner'.... she mentioned that after transcribing the interviews from the project, she could not stop thinking of how these lyrics echo the life histories of  many girls and boys we worked with. 

Her email expressed the following:

[3:36 am]


después de todo este proceso no dejo de pensar en esta canción, retrata muy bien las historias de todos estos hombres y mujeres. 

El vídeo dice más de lo que yo puedo escribir, "No se cuentan los segundos se cuentan las historias"

"En esta vida me castigaste, me robaste tiempo, me re cagaste, mi culpabilidad es como una pecera vacía"


Violence touches us distinct keeps us up at strange hours...makes it difficult to enjoy the holiday be completely present in a family swallow the carefully and lovingly prepared food at the dining table where I spent my childhood...on top of gut-wrenching sorrow and a stomach full of personal reflection...should I rest?...just a few days...or keep fighting the silence?  Quiet times here in Connecticut by the fireplace... the silence is unbearable.  The silence haunts me...disturbs my sleep through its screeching persistence...I try to drown it out with music...with more work...with more wine...this silence will not permit me to rest until we turn it around...flip silent acceptance of horrendous realities to project and operationalize grounded social change...stop trafficking through awareness before its tracks are forever ingrained in the memories of stolen youth...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

After the dissertation: Beyond the 'touch and go' model of fieldwork

Done with fieldwork? Finished your dissertation? 

Turn your back and walk away from the community?...

Abandonment is standard for street girls...their mothers, fathers, siblings, or other loved ones often fail them...they are abused at a young age and left to fend for themselves...clients 'touch and go' everyday...

As activist-scholars, we should not fall into this same pattern.  As I have argued elsewhere, what is known in the academic world as 'care ethics' depends on constancy...abandonment is fatal to the reproduction of caring relations in the field and to the future of an action-research program started, in my case, as the basis of doctoral research. 

Traditional research programs in the human sciences are still bound within this 'touch and go' model...researchers 'penetrate' communities, immerse themselves and 'pull out' when the funding runs dry and when they've obtained what they need to advance in their careers.

Metaphorically speaking, scholars who follow such protocols are no better than brothel administrators or pimps that take what they need from street girls, exploit their image for personal benefit and move on to the next girl [project] when she has nothing more to offer...nothing left to showcase...

I urge activist-scholars to consider this metaphor when entering into a participatory action research endeavor... 

PAR, for me, has only just begun...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Death Without Weeping": Understanding Scheper-Hughes through Everyday Life in Santa Fé

I am running late to a day of research with the PAR group of chicas trans - I arrive to the barrio Santa Fé (also known as 'la zona de tolerancia) and call Tiffany (one of the peer leaders running the project) to let her know I am outside.  Tiffany comes downstairs from the 'inquilinato' where she lives with her 'marido' (partner) and we walk through the maze of bazuco (crack) rooms, pass 2 kids running around and fighting over shoes, enter her room, and shut the door quickly.  Tiffany slowly places the wooden panel over the knob to lock the door and looks at me with a long face - 'They killed Ingrid last night around the corner'...My reaction was slow as the information didn't seem to register...Another travesti down...another hate crime in Santa Fé...I felt an eeriness in the air when I stepped off the Transmilenio (public transportation system) and walked into the zone...not as many people in the streets...Carrera (Av.) 16 empty where the travestis normally fill the windows and doors of the disco-brothels....Various memories of Ingrid flash through my mind as I begin to digest the information...going dancing...birthday parties in the same 'inquilinato' where we sit today...she was only 22 years old...died on the way to Hospital Santa Clara from a stab wound to the heart...symbolic...hateful...devastating...the girls will surely pay a visit to the Central Cemetery in Bogotá where they go when another one wish her ask for her transport to a better place...a safer place than the corners and brothels of Santa Fé.  Alexandra was with us in Tiffany's pieza as well - I didn't have much to say and felt as helpless as I felt after the murder of Wanda...that day we sat at my house and tried to talk about talk about how they feel...'Yes, is devastating...we are sad....but this is just another day in Santa Fé'.  It has taken me until now to completely understand this (the murder of Wanda was in October and two other cases have been reported since then).

We had an interview scheduled for the afternoon (after the murder of Ingrid)...and managed to make it through  - although Tiffany's pieza was charged with rage and confusion...where do we direct our are we supposed to feel with the loss of yet another travesti? Should we run? During this research session, Alexandra mentioned, 'Amy, sometimes I just want to run away - to disappear'...

No tears were shed...

I looked into Tiffany and Alexandra's eyes searching for signs of grief...for some signal that will make it OK for me to cry...There seemed to be no risk of damaging their carefully powdered faces and colorful shimmering eye make-up with tear streaks...

I tried to stifle my emotions and move on with the interview day (as both girls wanted to do) - and so we proceeded as everyday life in Santa Fé continued around us.

Taxi drivers zipping by and slowing to look at the girls and make their wash employees sitting around and waiting for 'Estrato 6' clients to drive through and decide to clean out their SUVs before going home to their workers walking back and forth with clients from 'residencias' (hotel/brothels) to their hard earned territory on the street corner...younger girls standing on the corner of Calle 20 holding their 'home'made yogurt bottle-rigged glue sniffing devices up to their faces...

As everyday life continues to move, as money and fluids are exchanged, today's 'pieza', 'golpe del dia' (essential meal), and 'escape del mundo inmediato' (through drugs) remain the immediate priority items that cancel out reactions to death and prevent grief from taking over.

A few days later during another interview the girls informed me about the couple that was burned in Santa Fé (again right around the corner) ... I kept looking down at my fieldnote jottings and again tried to stifle my reaction...just another day in Santa Fé...

Over the course of these two weeks of chaos and death in Santa Fé, I was informed about the condition of my she passed away, may she rest in peace...

Between the loss of my grandmother and the loss of community members to 'limpieza social' (social cleansing) and hate crimes in Santa Fé, I am feeling surrounded and almost consumed by death...but I have learned from the girls how to weep less and keep my make-up streakless...