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Attention Muslim Young Women & Trans People!! Call for Submissions for AQSA Zine Issue #1 November 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 4:27 pm
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My friend forwarded me this and here I am doing the same thing, pass it on! Attention Muslim Young Women & Trans People!!
Call for Submissions for AQSA Zine Issue #1
 
This Issue's Theme: Resistance and Self-Defense
Because you spend your life fighting back with a smile or fist
 
Deadline: December 1, 2008

 
About Us: AQSA Zine is a grassroots print zine, as well as an on-line community
(aqsazine.blogspot.com) that is open to all women and trans people who self-identify
as Muslim (13 to 35 years old). It is a creative avenue for us to express ourselves,
share our own experiences, and connect with others.  In Arabic, “aqsa” implies the
furthermost, as in reaching out to furthest possible. Aqsa zine aims to inspire
struggling to the utmost that we can. “Aqsa” is also the first name of the 16-year-old
Muslimwoman, Aqsa Parvez, who was murdered by her family members on
December 16, 2007. We recognize her murder as physical form of patriarchal
violence, and the response to her murder from public institutions as Islamophobic,
racist, and patriarchal. This zine is also inspired by Muslim young women and trans
people who experience and resist violence. We work within an anti-racist,
anti-Islamophobic, anti-imperialist, pro-choice, queer and trans positive framework.
Our aim is to organize and document grassroots movements of Muslim young women
and trans people working to end violence in all its forms. 
 
Why Submit: Because you’re tired of feeling fragmented and you know your body
shouldn’tbe anyone’s battleground. Because you don’t like being told who is Muslim
and who isn’t. Because you know you aren’t anybody’s erotic exotic. Because you’re
frustrated with people speaking slowly to you just because you are wearing a hijab.
Because you're sick of people asking “why don't you wear hijab?” OR telling you
you're not Muslim enough because you don't wear hijab. Because you’re bored by
the question “you’re gay and Muslim?” Because you don’t want to see anymore of
your family members profiled and harassed by the police. Because you hate being part
of the “random” check at airports. Because you spend your life fighting back with a
smile or fist. AQSA Zine is a safe space to tell our stories, and to share and learn our
herstories. Because WE SPEAK FOR OURSELVES.
 
Types of Submissions: Anything goes! Send us your stories (fiction or non-fiction),
poetry,artwork, photography, comics, graphic designs, recipes, open letters to
your past or futureself or anyone else, ideas, opinions, rants, book/music/art/TV
or movie reviews, essays, articles, and/or profiles of or interviews with Muslim
women and trans people. We want to learn about your dreams, hopes, fears,
strategies for self-care, forms of resistance, and the grassroots movements against
violence that occurs within and against our communities.
 
Confidentiality: Submissions are confidential, and will not be reprinted without the
author’s permission. Send us a note along with your submission letting us know whether
you would like to be identified on your piece. You can use your first and/or last name,
a pen name, or even remain completely anonymous. We want you to feel safe in making
a contribution. You may also include a short (1-5 sentences) bio with your submission
if you wish.
 
Deadline for Submissions: December 1, 2008. All submitters will be notified that their
piece has been received. Submissions not published in the print zine will be featured on
the on-line blog with the author’s permission.
 
Please note: we reserve the right to edit submissions after consultation the author
and submissions are not guaranteed publication in print or on-line.
 
Launch Parties: We are planning to hold zine launch parties on December 16--the
anniversary of Aqsa Parvez’s death. Let us know if you want to hold a launch party in
your area. We can help you organize and connect with other young Muslim women
near you.
 
Contact Information: Send us your submissions, ask us questions, request more
information or get involved with this project and our work, by contacting us at:
Email: aqsazine@gmail.com • Blog: aqsazine.blogspot.com

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Mission Complete November 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 3:51 pm
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Last night I brought in a small frog.  She was so cute I wanted to keep her.  But I don’t think I could take her back to Cali with me and all my luggage.  I have two days left in Florida and with all my frustrations and all my complaining I am glad I was here for this long.

I was in Miami for a week.  For a week my mami made me cafe con leche, made my lunch, made my dinner.  Brought me water and Materva when I asked for it.  For a week I was spoiled.  There is part of me that wants to be taken care of and another that just wants to brush all of that away.  But I know that when I am home alone I am the one who does my own laundry, I do my own dishes, I scrub my own floors.  I prepare my spiritual baths and pray all alone.  With my mami it is different.  

I had a dream once.  Really a nightmare.  My gold bracelet that I haven’t taken off in years exploded.  My body trembled.  Something was happening inside.  A dark skinned Cuban man with a plaid flannel type shirt talked to me and told me to pray.  I prayed the Our Father, the only prayer I seem to have fully memorized.  I didn’t know anything in Spanish.  He told me, eres como una bruja prieta pero eres blanca.  When I woke up and called my mami she laughed because she knows how I can’t stand when people call me white.  He said, I am like a Black witch but I am white.  And when I couldn’t pray in Spanish he told me to ask my mami to pray for me because she has a lot of power.  She laughed at that as well because she never knew she was powerful.  I asked my mami to pray for me everyday and even though she can irritate me I felt safe in her small studio.  

We did not fight, mami and me.  We almost did but I cut it off right before it happened.  I told her that I know she raised me to be independent but sometimes I think I am way too independent.  She said, I didn’t raise you, you raised yourself.  And it’s true.  I raised myself so it has been difficult for me to really be part of my family.  It has taken me time away, time observing other families, time thinking that I actually want to create my own family, time in learning just to accept myself and others how they are.  Now I feel like a member of my family.  Not the black sheep.  Not the one that left.  I feel like me.

I drove back from Miami on Sunday and I thought I learned a lot about myself on this trip.  I now know that I can’t spend too much time away from my home.  Working and writing at the same time even if it kills me makes me more creative.  If I have too much time on my hands I will devote it to looking at my friends pages on Facebook.  

It would be nice to see my family more often but I don’t know if I could ever live in Florida because:

a) I have no friends here.

b)I could only live in Miami Beach

c)I told myself that the next time I move it will be with a partner (and I still don’t know what is going on with that)

d)people in Miami drive like maniacs and I spent half of my time cursing out people

But sometimes I think it would be nice.  But then I remember that I have to wear a mask to visit my godmother.  I have to put up with them meddling into my life.  I have to tell them that they can’t call my La Talibana.  Well only my godmother calls me that but that is frustrating.

I took my shahada and became Muslim while I was in NYC. It was expected and unexpected.  It has been a struggle for me for awhile.  When you come from a family like mine full of clairvoyants practicing rituals I didn’t know if I could be Muslim.  And then I have to remind myself that it has made feel complete.  I feel that my spirituality has come to a full circle.  I have felt a pull from my ancestors.  Here and there.  Here and there.  People have asked me how my family will react.  And they have reacted the same way I thought they would.  They were really happy for me.  They know that my spirituality will grow even more now, that I will have a bigger understanding of people, that I can be more of service.  I couldn’t of told them on the phone.  I couldn’t of told them with me being here for a few days.  My guard is down.  I am more open.

It is my papi’s birthday today.  Of course he is working.  I will try to have the house clean for him.  I have not lived with him since I was eleven.  And even though he subjects himself to watching this show from Miami that is obsessed with Cuba because he wants to know what they are thinking, I will miss TV time with my dad.  On commercial breaks we talk about politics and how the world can be a better place.  He brings me fried plantains from the restaurant and lets me drive his car full of gas.  My papi understands when I need quiet, when I need to get out of the house, he finally understands when not to give me a sermon and just listen.

In my apt in Oakland with new carpet and nice paint I will not have these family moments.  But I will have the moments in my mind, in my heart.  I have completed my mission here.  I survived a month in Florida. Wow.  Seriously I am about to cry because I didn’t know I could do it.  My brothers and me get along fine.  My nieces and I talk for hours together.  I am able to be open.  I am able to love and accept love.  I am able to stop conflict before it happens.  Ok, I still have to work on cursing out other drivers in Miami but at least I know I have to work on it.

In two days, insha’Allah I will be home.  New adventures to come.  Now I really know I can do anything.

the end.

 

seeking compassion November 20, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 7:17 pm
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At my Madrina’s house I wear a mask so I can breathe. They smoke like chimneys in there. Just a couple of hours without the mask my chest was all tight and I felt like I was about to get sick. They smoke. My mami, my madrina and my cousin. They didn’t know that it took me so long to get to Miami because I had to develop compassion for this trip. I am not sure if I fully have it.

My cousin no longer looks like the man I knew. He has lung cancer. His hair on his head is almost all gone. He has grown in a beard that is mostly full of gray. One arm is skinny, the other is swollen. I ask if he wants me to massage his legs and he says no. He lays up on a recliner all day. My mami and madrina shifting pillows and blankets for him. We tell him he should walk around but he doesn’t want to. He smoke still and they do as well. Lighting up cigarettes for him because his hand is shaky. I leave the room because even the mask won’t give me any compassion.

He runs out of cigarettes and they ask me to go to the store and get him some more. I say, no, sharply. Knowing I can’t possibly get him cigarrettes but I also feel bad defying them. Instead I go to the store to get him medical supplies and pastelillos de carne. I have not cried yet. Mami told me he doesn’t want me to see him cry. We all cry, I say, but I haven’t cried yet.

I only went to his house today to say hi. I stayed in the living room. It is the day after his chemo. I wish I could have more compassion. I just can’t sit in the florida room with him (yes only in miami there is a florida room). I can’t sit with him because I have nothing to say. My words of motivation are lost. I want to tell him that I am mad. I am mad at him for not wanting to live. Mad at my mami and madrina for indulging him. Mad at myself for not being able to give any light.

When I pray for him I pray for him to have motivation. I pray for the angels to surround him and breathe on him some hope.

I’m in Miami Beach now. Writing dreams. There are no more words left in me right now.

the end.

 

National Protest on Prop 8 November 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 5:06 pm
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When I was eleven I used to say that I didn’t want to get married or have kids.  That’s when my mami and madrina took me to the side saying I couldn’t say that or people would think I was a lesbian.  I guess they had short term memory loss.  It had around my parents’ separation.  Marriage did not work.

For years I did not want to get married.  Then I was in relationships that I couldn’t get married.  The institution of marriage sucked.  Why would I believe in something that I couldn’t do?  I failed at really committing in my relationships but I got a whole list of reasons for that.  When marriage became legal in California I became really excited and even though I was in love with a man and could get married, it was in that moment that the possibility of getting married was really open to me.  I wanted to call him up and ask him to gay marry me even though he’s not gay.

I didn’t think Proposition 8 would pass and it did.  I felt the pain of the couples that got married at city hall, in front of their families and friends, in gowns and/or suits, around loved ones, saying their vows publicly, their love now acknowledged is no longer valid by the government.  

I have a special, close relationship to God and there has never been a time that He has condemned me for being queer.  Never.  I don’t believe in that crap.  God is more loving than that.  So, to use God and religion to oppose same sex marriage infuriates me.  Are people that insecure that they have to govern other people’s love?

I wish I could be marching with my brothers and sisters right now.  I wish I could be marching with all types of families that support everyone’s right to marriage.  I wish I could be there but right now I am in suburban hell without a car.  So, I will say my prayers and write this blog.  Yes, there are plenty of other rights we have to fight for, like non-discrimination, equal housing, job opportunities, programs to get medicine, issues on bias.  We also have to work towards that.  Even though I am not with a woman right now I am still queer.  It is part of my system, it is part of how I look at the world, it is part of who I am.  That will never change.  Everyone has the right to live a happy life.  Everyone.

I pray that we gather the strength in ourselves and in each other to move forward.  I pray that we all respect each other.  I pray that opposition will end and bridges will be built to create a better humanity.  May our light shine.

the end.

 

Believe it November 11, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 11:51 pm
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Suburban hell has actually inspired me.  Alhumdullilah.  Yesterday I went to the next county to go to the rinky dinky Walden Books at the mall.  I bought a book that brought tears to my eyes because there was life breathing out of the pages.  Then it all came to me.  Word after word.  I had to rush home to write.  I finally got it.

 

Now I am sitting in a booth at my brother’s restaurant.  Broad Street and lots of trees are my view.  The shack down the road holds the Sheriff’s office and the Post Office.  I am being serious it is a shack.  I am no longer in the suburbs this is pure country.  Papi says there is a spirit here that walks in circles.  He thinks he will whisper stories to me.  Right now I don’t care where I get my stories from I’m just glad that I am writing.

 

My friend told me he would pray for me to write.  It worked.  So, if you can pray for me, too, I would appreciate it.

 

The end.  

 

just one of those days November 10, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 6:03 pm
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My stay in Florida has taught me a lot of lessons so far.  Like I need to be constantly stimulated to create.  I am literally bored.  My conversations are minimal.  I have read through the one book I have.  I stare at the wall and nothing comes out.

There are no bookstores in the whole county!

I, of course can not just blame the environment.  I sabotage myself.  Nothing new has come out of my system.  Except for an idea that is complicated like a puzzle.  Words of fiction because I stop myself from writing truth about my family.  I am my worst critic.  I need to top myself.  I went on a date and was told that I am a genius.  I wonder if geniuses go through dry spells.

If anything I can rely on my dramatics for entertainment.

When I realize that I should take advantage of my dad’s direct TV, I watch shows from Spain so I can develop their accent.  There’s nothing like a frustrated Spaniard.

the end.

 

a second mother November 6, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 6:44 pm
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My niece wants to come live with me.  She has been wanting to do that for some time now.  For some time now I have told her that my door is open.  Now I am hit with this great possibility.  Can I really be  a second mom to a teenager?

I tell her there are different rules in my house like we don’t yell, we talk.  Like, I don’t have a TV and if we get one she can’t watch it all day long.  Like she has to get a job.  She asks if I will drive her to school, I tell her she has to take the bus.

She is the middle one, she is the one that can be like me.  We have an understanding. My dad understands her completely.  He is reliving my teenage years again.  he tells me he doesn’t yell at her anymore.  She anticipates it.  I tell her we come from a family of yellers.  I had to leave to not continue to do it.  She tells me she wants to leave, too.  I tell her it is better to gain the tools and try to work it out or else you will be like me gone for so many years. The youngest looks the most like me.  I see myself as thirteen when I look at her but she is happy.  She dances for days.  Genetics can be so amazing.

The middle one, the one that wants to live with me thinks I wold be a great mom coz I bring her chicken soup, watch Project Runway with her and talk in different accents.  And even though I know these aren’t the top mom qualities I smile.

I am different member of the family now.  I am older, I am free to be myself.  My dad tells the neighbor if you see a girl walking around that’s my daughter.  And yes, they still call me la niña but I am no longer just that.  And we will see what more I will become.

the end.