Nite 6: El Paso
Cemelli and Gina, and the community of womyn, greet us with such warmth and enthusiasm, we already feel so special! The cafe is a huge space with a wide stage facing tables that sit 60 or so folks, and a small counter in the back to the side where womyn are taking dinner orders.
We are invited to hang up our banners and set up a table with our handouts, t-shirts, and posters.
Jasi quickly joins the group of children running freely thru the room, scooting out a doorway into another room to circle around again to burst into the front room where we are all at. He is so happy to be running freely, joyously with other children mostly his age!
Then several First Nation dancers - all womyn and girls except for one man - begin a beautiful ceremony for us, drumming, singing and dancing! We are deeply honored. At the end, the elder dancer begins to smudge - and she doesn't stop with the room and people but smudges and blesses our banners as well!
We spread out and begin our presentation. The audience appears to be spellbound as we tell Marissa's story, and then appalled and incensed as we spell out the injustice system's response to her.
And the all too familiar sad and stricken looks, the nods, the breaths held, the tears flowing - the yes, I know this story, this happened to me, this is happening to me.
At the end of our presentation, one of the Mujer Obrera womyn activists and survivor of domestic and institutional violence, tells her story. We are all weeping by the time she is done.
Food and drink is spread out for us and we eat the most delicious indigenous food with yummy hibiscus tea. Gina sits with us and reveals what a fierce, amazing amazon warrior she is - we all want to be like Gina when we continue our journey!
We talk a lot about the womyn and girls that are STILL being murdered daily in Juarez - or at least their bodies are still being dumped around Ciuda Juarez and the prevalent belief that it is rich u.s. businessmen buying the bodies and lives of young girls and womyn to torture, rape, and destroy.
We think about how to acknowledge the violence perpetrated against Latina and First Nation womyn, here on this border and on our northern borders as well - we failed to do so directly in our presentation - and the lack of national and local concern (except from womyn and allies here) let alone real steps taken to protect womyn and girls.Brown: Womyn's Lives Matter!
When it is time to pack up and go, Cemelli leads us thru the streets of El Paso to the house the UU has provided for us! There are 4 empty bedrooms, all with beds or blow-up mattresses, sheets & blankets as well as 2 bathrooms with towels - we've landed in the lap of luxury! No one has to sleep on the floor or in a vehicle! YEAH!!!!
Cemelli asks us to join her in the living room for her Moon Dance ceremony, which is a womyn's ceremony of her people. The pipe and tobacco we smoke have been passed down to her thru generations and we are honored once again to be included as part of this ceremony.
We fall into our beds, saturated with womyn's energy, love, and inspiration!