Written by Rios de la Luz
I first came across Con Fuerza Collective (CFC) via Instagram. I was drawn to the group because of the inclusivity the group exudes. As stated on their page: “CFC defies the traditional notion of Xicanisma via inclusive collaboration, discussion and activism. We are an inclusive collective of diverse ethnicities, nationalities, genders, and sexes.”
I remember when I first exclaimed my feminism. My heart raced and I wanted to get my hands on any book that could teach me more. I read and read. I wanted to shout at people about injustice. I wanted very badly for people to understand that no, women are not predisposed to fit into certain roles. There are more than two boxes for gender. There is fluidity in identity. We can be so much more. We can learn to listen to people with different lived experiences. These are all the things I wanted to scream. It was lonely sometimes. Being a feminist in Oklahoma isn’t unheard of (I met so many magical activists in OK, okay), but there is opposition even to the mere whisper of the F word.
Seeing organizations and collectives like CFC brings me a sense of hope. Discussions are happening. Listening to each other is happening. Communities are coming together and utilizing their knowledge to help each other learn and grow. CFC thrives in sharing knowledge and accessibility for those who want to self-educate. This is admirable, inspirational and so BADASS.
I interviewed two members of CFC for more insight on meetings and the organization. Check it out:
What was the first moment of empowerment for you that made you realize you were a feminist?
Alma Rosa: I remember being in high school & always reading BUST magazine & having my girl clique at school & knowing that I was all about girl power & empowerment. My first friend who was a conscious feminist was called Ari. I can’t help but feel she was a part of my early punk rock, d.i.y, feminist story. If you’re reading this Ari, Hi! Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros though, is why I’m a Chicana Feminist. She was my introduction to Chicana authors. I am forever grateful to my Queen Sandra.
Claire: The first time I realized I was a feminist was when I was about 14, I started listening to Hardcore Punk and was instantly liberated. I began searching for mujeres in the punk movement who lit a movement within myself to say “FUCK THIS! I AM NOT GOING BE CLASSIFIED BY SOCIETY”.
What types of topics are discussed at CFC meetings?
Alma Rosa: Con Fuerza Collective began as Mujeres Del Corazon, a Chicana book club branched out from Corazon Del Pueblo located on Mariachi Plaza. We realized as we read different articles that we wanted to make a change for our community. We wanted to be more than a book club. Now we do a variety of topics. We have done Consejo circles,Writing workshops,Discussions on labels ( Latin@, Hispanic, and Chican@). My homegirls Rosie and Jocey have led a Xicana Feminist workshop that was also later presented at a High School. I’m really proud of all my Collective members work & to stand beside them in la lucha to represent and heal our people.
Claire: CON FUERZA IS ALL INCLUSIVE. I cannot stress that enough and I will never get tired of saying so. Since it is such, we talk about a variety of things from gender identity to the roots of our ancestors, and giving them shout outs that keep us grounded and united. We speak of the injustices that society provides for us, and brainstorm what we can do so that people feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts, and to always let them know to feel safe because we are coming from a place of love, and are blessed with being able to be perceptive.
What is the most challenging aspect of activism?
Alma Rosa: I think there are a lot of challenging parts of activism. One thing I struggle with is being conscious of all my collective members’ feelings, opinions, and triggers. I can sometimes act very “blahhhh let me just spit out all my opinions” that’s not always ok to do. I try hard to let others speak their mind and to understand that collective work means the vision is as a “Collective” not just my vision or what I want to do.
Claire: I guess the most challenging part is having folx who are just ignorant as shit and down play what is it that you’re doing. I always get this claim from folx telling me that what I’m doing isn’t going to change anything, and that I’m wasting my time. First off, I’m a non conformist. I will NOT let my gente be unheard. I have their backs and truly care for their struggles. I guess some folx forget, is that when we feel like justice isn’t being served it is our RIGHT to take it to the streets. STAY WOKE.
What advice do you have for young people who want to start a collective in their city?
Alma Rosa: Being a part of Con Fuerza has literally changed my life and my entire view on myself. It is the one thing that made me realize that the power is in you! It really truly is! If you believe in something or in Chicana feminism; make an instagram, start inviting people, make a zine and don’t be scared to put your name out there. If I had to give advice to a muxer out there reading this, I’d say just do it. Don’t over think it. The power of hermanahood will find its way to you and before you know it you’ll be in what I consider A Xicana Feminist version of Sex & the City.
Claire: My advice is to never give up, it is totally doable. You will be surprised by how many like-minded folx are around you and actually are looking to do the same things. I’ve spoken to several mujeres that tell me that they want to start something but aren’t sure they could pull enough folx together to get it done, BUT YOU CAN! It is all about outreach and getting your objective goal to be understood coherently.
If you could time travel and meet one person, who would it be and why?
Alma Rosa: I think I was really meant to Chicana Author Michelle Serros. The day Michelle Serros passed away from Cancer on January 4th was the day I sat down and started writing. Since then, her name is always constantly coming to me. I’ve become really close friends with one of her friends and fellow Chicana Writers Meliza Bañales. I submitted work to a zine titled “Never Give up on an Opportunity to Eat for Free,” a zine honoring How to be a Chicana Role Model by Michele Serros. I feel like if she would’ve had another year on this earth we definitely would’ve met and I think we would’ve been good friends.
Claire: Hmmm, that’s a good question… I can’t answer that. I’ve already met this immaculate person who’s met mujeres we read of, dream of, only wish we could’ve been in their presence. Her name is Missy Fuego, I fell in love with her as soon as I met her, the more we talk, the more amazing and beautiful she is. She continues to light my liberation, she listens to every word we have to say and guides us into our identity. She’s our xicana feminst madre. Que viva la fuego.