Special Guest: Erika Strauss-Chavarria

Story of Self

Quien soy?
Yo soy Nuevo Mexico, New Mexico- my native land of enchantment- the roots of my two voices -Bilingual bilingue y orgullosamente asi, cien porciento me
Ambiguously brown..I’ve heard my whole life..what are you, que eres? If you don’t mind me asking? Si me importa cabrón!
Ambiguosly brown, yet perceived as white in some spaces. And I use the privilege of my lighter skin to speak the truths that, for the same words, my darker brothers and sisters are deemed “angry Black woman” “aggressive Black man” “pulling the race card”.
Ambiguously brown…or in some spaces I am that Spic, wetback, kike, terrorist, beaner, exotic, Spanish bitch, ilegal, Jew bitch..
I am the Self-hating jew to my own people ..when I rise in unwavering solidarity with my Palestinian brothers and sisters who have been terrorized by Zionists who claim the promised land theirs and theirs alone… and I want to scream how could you do unto others what was done unto you?? And by the way…in the words of Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco “How can land be owned by another man… warns one cannot steal what was given as a the sky owned by birds and the rivers owned by fish?” Dam.
And yet, I know, that racism that I experience and the anger I feel will NEVER compare to what my Black brother and sisters go through and feel in this country Every.Single.Day

Que eres? What are you? Lupe’s lyrics remind me of my childhood spent embraced by the beauty of my Navajo community.. who gave me the name Avocado baby..a name that I hold as sacred as the spirit of mother earth who feeds my soul and nurtures my existence.
Quien soy? Who am I?
I am Sephardim.. North African, Spanis, Semitic sangre…Never forgetting that it was Africa who blessed me with my Jewish Hebrew roots..Africa, the motherland of which too many of my own fellow Hebrews whose melanin has faded via geographical acclimation, refuse to acknowledge or chose to ignore. But I dont.. Pan-African Black nationalist to my core.
Quien soy? Who are you to define me? Yo sé quien, Soy yo, Strauss Chavarria, Chav, Erika, Kekita, Avocado Baby, Chasha, Morenita, Rebel Alma, Chingona, Maestra, Profesora..
Ambiguously brown? maybe…but never, ever neutral as an educator in this fight against injustice and oppression

[2018 NEA National Leadership Summit: Think Global, Act Local Workshop]