Art is Resistance: Ali De León

Today is the day of the Women’s Strike, and while I will spend the entire day traveling, I could not let it go by without doing it some justice.

I have been thinking a lot lately about feminism and what it means to me, and to be honest, it’s so complex that it’s pretty hard to put down in words.  What I do know, though, is that feminism has failed so many women because the way that we each define it has not been intersectional enough.  White women have demanded control of the feminist narrative for so long that women of color are left asking what any of it really means to them.  That is a failure on the part of feminists everywhere.  Feminism must be inclusive.  Feminism must encompass the issues that EVERY woman faces.  This means that BlackLivesMatter is a feminist issue.  This means the the DAPL is a feminist issue.  This means that the Muslim Ban and the border wall are feminist issues.  And until we acknowledge that feminism has neglected women of color, we are doomed to fail.

Thankfully, this has already started to happen.  The Women’s March organizers made a great effort to make the movement more intersectional.  This made me happy, but the comments from white women disappointed me.  So many were making comments equal to “All Lives Matter” and I was really not having it.  So basically, white women: we (yep, I belong here too) need to do better.  And women of color? We (also I belong here) need to keep using our voices and sharing our stories.

One of the best ways to do this is through art. This could be music, poetry, painting, drawing… whatever.  But I am of the mind that art is activism.  And activism is of paramount importance these days.

One artist on my radar lately is Ali De León.  Ali de León was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey. She is an actress, spoken word artist, and recording artist. She has performed at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Tedx Jersey City, and will be playing the role of Valerie in the play Fixed by David Lee White this May at thePassage Theatre in Trenton. The song “En Donde,” which translates into “Where,” explores questions that Ali de León has thought about many times; including issues regarding racism, sexism, feminism, and freedom of movement. She strongly believes the arts have the power to heal the world. Her mission is to create art stemming from her most vulnerable places, despite its size, shape, or form, in hopes to connect and unify the human race.

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When I listened to “En Donde,” I was moved.  It truly is a direct indictment of what this country has done to non-whites and women across generations.  It is a question that asks how, in a country that has no place for her, she is supposed to find her way.  She expresses that her skin has rendered her an outsider.  Her gender has rendered her a threat to be contained.   Her past has followed her and made her feel judged.  She reminds us that we are all connected through our pain and our place in this nation.  And she reminds us that we are, in essence, the same. We are all citizens of this world… and we should behave like it.

This, to me, is what intersectional feminism means.  It means listening to another woman.  It means seeing another woman.  It means pausing and learning and connecting to another woman. She has lived a life vastly different from mine, but still, I feel her.  We all must realize that while we are separate people with unique stories, what impacts one of us impacts all of us…

Video Credits: Producer: @IamYung_Bunk  // Recording Studio @TCMGStudio

And so today, as you strike, I want you to consider: why, when so much of what is happening in today’s world is directly impacting our Latina sisters, do we not hear their voices more often?  I promise you it is not because they are not here… but instead because you are talking over them.  Stop. Listen. And learn a little.  If we are to win this fight, it must be a fight for all of us.  It must be a fight that unifies us.  And the narrative must be one that is inclusive of every woman who stands with us…

To my ReSISTERS everywhere today, in the words of Ali De León:

Soy una mujer y por eso feminista

Nos usan pa vender todas sus ultimas tendencias

Sin advertencia porque fuimos una vez simple herencia

Sin derecho, ni placer, sin dinero, sin poder

Cojimos atrevimiento de ser mujer

Y aun nos contenieron como esclavos del sistema

pero nadie toca el tema porque cree que no es problema

Today, we make them see: it is a problem.  And we are not going to stop until we have solved it… for ourselves, for our sisters, for our mothers, for their mothers, for our daughters and for their daughters.  We #Resist.

Want to follow Ali?

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Photographer: Cristian Merello

Instagram @Ali_De_leon
Facebook Alicia Rivas
Soundcloud Ali De Leon

 

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