Monday, April 18, 2011

America Needs Fatima Responds




[Only a few days later, America Needs Fatima responded to my e-mail regarding their "Protest Alma López Exhibit" call to action. The e-mail is below, with a string of e-mail communications. Though unsurprising, the violence in their language is palpable. And, yes, I am a smart-mouth.]


From: ANF@americaneedsfatima.org
To: Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano
Date: Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 9:51 AM
Subject: Re: America Needs Fatima: What you call blasphemy, I call Women of Color

Lorenzo,

Your email is dribble and is NOT CATHOLIC in the least sense! Therefore, no more placing pearls before swine.

You are a heretic! You are full of bad will and venom! You ridiculous and worthless email has fallen on deaf ears.

Send it to someone who will listen to your rants. We do not care to listen to your foaming at the snout! You have nothing to say that has anything to do with the Catholic Faith or the true Mother of God!

Wake up and come out of your fog, son of a brown woman.

______________________________________________

[My response.]

From: Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano
To: ANF@americaneedsfatima.org
Date: Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 10:18 AM
Subject: Re: America Needs Fatima: What you call blasphemy, I call Women of Color

Thank you for your prompt response. You are correct, my e-mail is not catholic. It is humane and centered on values of love, justice and compassion.

I appreciate your attention to my e-mail as, in your response, I am clear it did not fall on deaf ears. You heard me loud and clear.

With love,


Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano
The son of a Brown Woman (note: not in small caps)


P.S. I suggest you research the A.D. 325 Council of Nicaea and learn about the pagan roots of your Catholocism, and the invention of a Trinity. Technically, I'm not the only heretic here.

______________________________________________

[ANF's response.]

From: ANF@americaneedsfatima.org
To: Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano
Date: Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 10:43 AM
Subject: Re: America Needs Fatima: What you call blasphemy, I call Women of Color

Lorenzo,

You do not get it! Nonetheless, believe what you will!
I say again, It went no further then our "trash" bin! Mr. Ritchie did not see this email, nor will he! The directors of America Needs Fatima have not seen this rubbish, nor will they!
It stops with me. Consider it GONE! It is out of our system! DELETED!
Your email is garbage. IT IS NOT CATHOLIC! Your ramblings are not remotely worthy of the TRUE MOTHER of GOD, let alone some demented, brown colored woman whom you wish to idolize!
Therefore, once again, your first email, AND YOUR SECOND, and any hereafter have gone, and will go into the sewer ~ where they belong!
Thinking that your dribble has not fallen on deaf ears...well, what can I say!
I guess that will be your own little secret!

______________________________________________

[My final response to this person.]

From: Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano
To: ANF@americaneedsfatima.org
Date: Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 10:51 AM
Subject: Re: America Needs Fatima: What you call blasphemy, I call Women of Color

The year is 2011. I guarantee you, Mr. Ritchie will receive my e-mail. Which, by virtue of being in your memory, is in your system.

Be blessed.

______________________________________________

[And it gets worse.]

From: ANF@americaneedsfatima.org
To: Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano
Date: Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 10:43 AM
Subject: Re: America Needs Fatima: What you call blasphemy, I call Women of Color

...Also in my memory are etched the horrific images of the dead children that I picked up off the street as a police officer years ago!
Nonetheless, I have NEVER ACTED on them in any way, nor do I share them with anyone. They will go no where...just like your 'brown" crap will go no where!
The year is 2011. Bravo! I can see that not much gets around you!
Nonetheless, my computer system is NOT REMOTELY linked to Mr. Ritchie's,,,anymore then mine is linked to yours! And just as I am in no way, shape, fashion or form linked to your system, neither is Mr. Ritchie linked to mine.
That should not be to hard for your educated mind to grasp!
Third email going into the toilet!


______________________________________________

[Rather than engaging the angry person above, I sent the following email (including a forward of the above emails) to the Executive Director of ANF expressing my concern over their staff's language. Note: This is the Mr. Ritchie mentioned by ANF staff above.]


From: Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano
To: reritchie@gmail.com
Date: Tue, Apr 19, 2011 at 2:37 PM
Subject: Concerns regarding America Needs Fatima staff's distasteful language

Dear Mr. Ritchie,

I hope this e-mail finds you well and blessed. Below is the communication interaction I had with one of your staff members yesterday. This interaction comes after I submitted my letter of concern regarding your "Protest Alma Lopez Exhibit" call to action.

While it is clear and unsurprising that your organization and the values of the communities of color I belong to are at odds, I continue deeply disturbed by the language utilized by your staff. As far as your organization is concerned, I had hoped for a civil engagement among people of differing opinions.

The topic of Our Lady certainly brings up intense emotions for all of us, regardless of where we stand on the issue. And while my initial letter illustrates my passion on the issue, it is constructed with intention and civility. To have been called swine by your staff is an affront on my person and a reflection of the type of organization you direct.

This communication is with the intention of bringing my concerns to you. I do not expect a response as your organization has eloquently articulated its values and capacity (or lack thereof) to engage in civil discourse. As you can see from the last e-mail I received yesterday, the racism and classism inherent in your staff's language (eg. "just like your 'brown' crap will go no where!") highlights the utter disdain toward people of color, and reifies America Needs Fatima's inability to engage others with dignity and civility.

I pray your leadership will address the detestable manner with which your people respond to concerns.

In peace and hope for our communities,


Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano




































































Friday, April 15, 2011

What you call blasphemy, I call Women of Color: A response to America Needs Fatima

[Letter in response to America Needs Fatima, which is organizing a protest of Alma López' Our Lady to be on exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California in May of this year. For more on Alma López' work, visit almalopez.com. For excellent analysis of the controversy surrounding Our Lady and discussion on other works by López and other Chicana artists, check-out Our Lady of Controversy: Alma López's Irreverent Apparition.] 


Dear America Needs Fatima organizers of the “Protest Alma López Exhibit,”

It is with deep sorrow that I write to you in response to your “Protest Alma López Exhibit” call to action. Having read your plea to organize against Alma López’ Our Lady at the Oakland Museum of California, I find myself painfully disturbed by your misinterpretation of López’ work, as well as your audacity to attempt to censor the voices and images of women of color.

The voices and works of women of color are as critical as ever at a time when communities of color are the targets of white supremacist institutions sustaining and relying on political, cultural and religious systems and policies that reinforce structural racism. It is not accidental that communities of color disproportionately carry the brunt of health disparities in this country, that boys and young men of color are brutally targeted by the criminal justice system, or that girls and women of color continue to be measured by their worth as reproductive, industrial and sexual purveyors in a capitalist structure.

Women of color artists have long exposed the fact that political, cultural and religious entities serve as devices toward ensuring the ongoing disenfranchisement of our communities and the exploitation of our bodies. The abominate language in your call to action is a violent manifestation of how these devices serve to attack and suppress our communities. Your “peaceful and prayerful protest” stands in direct contradiction with your distorted and vicious description of Alma López’ Our Lady.

In reading your call I am left to wonder whether, in your angry tirade against women of color, you took the responsible step toward understanding the love and intention with which López imagined Our Lady. What you call blasphemy, I call Women of Color. The “topless woman-angel” in Our Lady is a brown woman in open embrace, revealing the beauty innate in brown women’s bodies. Defining women of color breasts as illustrative blasphemy speaks to your relationship to women of color, their bodies and their “place” and “use” in this society.

For generations, communities of color have found refuge and hope in the arts. Through the arts we have made sense of the world around us, named that which afflicts us, and articulated ourselves as free, thriving and loving. Our Lady offers an opportunity for the one who stands before her to relate, question, understand and imagine existing and future possibilities for ourselves and our communities.

I take great offense to your attempt to relegate the “topless woman-angel” as a sinful depiction of women. When I stand before Our Lady, I see my mother, I see my abuelas and I see la Virgen de Guadalupe. I see these four women who have been utilized as tools for capitalist gains— women who institutions such as yours have attempted to strip from their sexuality, their spirit, indeed, their agency as sacred beings.

Regardless of where one stands along the continuum of faith, the “bikini wearing” Virgin illustrates the power of resistance embodied in our communities' struggle for liberation from oppressive forces and institutions that insist on controlling and profiting from our lives through the political, cultural and religious legislation of our bodies.

As I stand before Our Lady, I see a brown woman standing in defiance, unwilling to accept imposed roles assigned and imposed onto her and her sisters’ bodies. She is the embodiment of La Virgen. She has lifted her gaze to confront those who have long reaped the capitalist benefits of subjecting women of color to the roles of abnegate mother or detestable whore.

She is looking at you, America Needs Fatima, in the eye. For your call to action goes beyond protesting Our Lady, Alma López’ work, or the Oakland Museum of California.  In your call, you protest women of color. You protest my sisters’ right to self-determination, to recognize themselves as beautiful, brown, whole and strong. It is not God’s Holy Mother for whom you increase your “acts of reparation.” It is the women of color, defiantly articulating themselves as sacred, who you seek to persecute.

America Needs Fatima organizers of the “Protest Alma López Exhibit,” your un-peaceful agitation of your base has violent roots that you must reconcile as followers of a doctrine of compassion. The perpetuated notion of brown women’s bodies as reproductive, industrial and sexual instruments leads to rape, exploitation and countless heartless acts against girls and women of color. You must examine your words and your actions in relation to the legacies of violence against women of color in this and other countries.

In the name of our mothers, our grandmothers, and our communities, I admonish you.



Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano
The son of a Brown Woman.