I’m excited to return to El Paso and the Café Mayapan,
where our Black Womyn’s Lives Matter: Free Marissa caravan did a presentation
and where we were given the warmest, most loving and inspiring welcome and
sweet fierce support for our journey.
And where we met awesome, kickass activist native and Hispanic womyn
fighting for womyn’s lives.
GPS doesn’t work but I find the address of Café Mayapan
in my email and I feel my way off the freeway onto the streets. I think I’m
heading in the right direction, as I know the street was south of the freeway
but north of the border. I confirm with a driver of a black pickup truck next
to mine that Texas Ave is in the direction I’m heading.
I’m pleased to witness not one ‘him’ yard sign, poster,
banner or even bumper sticker. When I was on the freeway this morning, a couple
of muffler-less trucks accelerated and zoomed too close around me, behavior that could be considered frothing by
angry white men but maybe not.
A white male maybe in his 30’s driving a spiffy white car
did race to swerve in front of me almost clipping my front bummer, threw on his brakes and extended his
arm way above the roof of his car to point downwards towards his “marine
veteran” sign across the bottom of his back window.
I honk back and give him the peace sign that I morph into
the “I love you” sign as he speeds away and ponder why he thought it was
important to make sure I noticed his military status. As I no longer have "disarm military, police, all men" on the back of the truck (just on a side he can't see), I try to figure out what distresses him most – the truth about ‘rump’ or the only other writing “Black Womyn’s
Lives Matter” and “White Silence is Violence”.
Hmmmm. This is one of the biggest downfalls of highway conversation.
When I feel my way to the café, I learn Cemelli cannot meet me
for lunch but I am deeply touched and honored when she invites me to attend her
class at the University at 3:00pm. I eat lunch at Café Mayapan, get online to
catch up with facebook and emails, then work diligently on my blog. I’m
anticipating seeing the University campus and sitting in on Cemelli’s class.
On the way to the campus, I’m caught it heavy traffic and
receive several smiles and waves – no overt 'rump rage. One older brown womon
drives next to me smiling and watching until we stop at a light when she leans
out the window and pointedly mouths ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’ about 10 times. I
smile broadly at her and we raise a fist in unison together as she turns off
and I continue forward to the university.
I drive unquestioned through the guard shed, him giving
me directions to the building I’m seeking as he gulps down soda and rushes to wipe chip
crumbs off his cheek. I find an illegal I’m sure park right in front of the
building. It turns out to be the biggest, tallest building on campus and I have
no idea which room Cemelli is teaching in, plus my phone is working on
After asking many folks, going to several floors, and
almost giving up, I get a text with the room number – a floor I haven’t yet
searched. When I get into the class, Cemelli surprises me by asking me to talk
a little about my work. She speaks eloquently and earnestly about Marissa
Alexander. I add a few more of the egregious details but want to impress upon
these young minds that Marissa’s case is not unique, that every where we went,
womyn shared similar stories. Cemelli even spoke up and shared her story.
And because we are on the Juarez/El Paso border where Indigenous and Mexican girls and womyn are being murdered daily if not hourly,
both Cemelli and I talked about brown and native womyn’s lives matter also; and
how saying “Native Lives Matter” or “Brown Lives Matter” is NOT a co-opting of
Black Lives Matter but a part of BLM and a recognition of racism/police violence impacting
people of color.
We then see a movie that is a Mayan story of creation –
I’m afraid I might have talked too long because we didn’t get to finish
Cemelli walks out with me and we see numerous students
taking pictures of my truck! She brings me to her car and gives me several
presents. I’m ashamed I have nothing to give her, and that I forgot about this
graciousness and generosity that was also given to us the last time we passed thru
El Paso. I’m intending to find her something special and send it to her.
She invites me to her home, offering a place to sleep,
shower, eat, rest. She has invited me to the Prophets of Rage concert that
evening that she is rushing off to table at. I’m torn about attending. I’ve
looked up the Y in El Paso and an organic food store for snacks – I haven’t
exercised properly since I’ve been on the road and I’m out of snacks for
keeping myself awake as I drive at night to beat the heat.
She gives me some Jill Stein flyers – Jill is coming to
Café Mayapan on Friday! I promise her I leave some at the Y and wherever else I
go in El Paso. She tells me I can hand them out at the concert for her because
they are not allowed to hand them out themselves.
After she leaves I get a hold of myself. I can’t believe
I’m thinking of going to the Y instead of handing out flyers – I probably can
do both so I hurriedly text Cemelli and tell her I’ll be there.