you know her well by now.
some beautiful words from a beautiful soul, mz. crystal ponzio.
Does anyone else find it strange that for all of the individualism that runs through the veins of modern American society and for all of the isolationism that runs through the sewers of American politics, that one of our most beloved holidays requires us to find a partner? It's really the dichotomy that pisses me off, not the fact that there will be no dinner for two and no diamond chatchke. Anyway, the purpose of this note is not to self loathe…I do have an abundance of love in my life. Thanks, in part, to you lovely people.
I grew up in El Paso. I learned to enjoy the taste and texture of dust and the noiselessness of the desert. It was nothing, if not experimental. If you expected life to take on a color other than brown, you had to get creative. I think it's the most beautiful place on earth now, of course, but always dreamt of greener pastures…whatever those were. It didn't take long to realize that even though this languid and listless place seemed only to exist for the truly uninspired, that it was a country club compared to the shanty life that was only a stone's throw away. For all of the discontent that it bred to grow up in El Paso, to be in a place with a nearly non-existent economy, no beach and no trees, a weekend drive to the mall would always remind you that you were in paradise. We grew up in a place where 'a hundred years' ago was always within eyeshot.
My parents did a good job of making sure that the people across the border in Juarez were not foreigners to us. We knew several by name. We visited them in their shacks. We looked them in the eyes. They were our friends. So when their daughters, granddaughters and sisters began to disappear, we felt terrorized on both sides of the border. Over 400 women have been brutally, brutally slain in the desert of Northern Mexico, and nearly a hundred (maybe more) remain missing since the early 1990's. Although the murders seemed to have peaked back when I was in high school, girls continue to disappear, and many of their perpetrators continue to reap the benefit of impunity in the form of indifference on the part of the Mexican government and blatant denial on the part of law enforcement. It donned on me that although this harvesting of women, which has never taken center stage in the human rights forum, has decreased over the years, serious damage has been done. The girls across the border learned that their government doesn't care about poor people and that the people meant to protect them were actually protecting their assailants. Sadly, the genocidal atrocities against the women of Juarez are so pervasive that a new term was needed to get the message across. Femicide. Juarez is the capital. The violence must stop and furthermore, measures need to be taken to repair an already ramshackled community from the trauma of the last decade and a half.
Since 1998, Valentine's Day has taken on a more meaningful role…VDay. Finally, a day has been set aside to recognize that women are among the most oppressed people group on Earth, and have been throughout history. This global movement seeks to bring violence against women to the forefront, and I seek to bear these horrible events, in some small way, as my burden. I also had the chance, last year, to work with some very enterprising people in Chicago who bankrolled a company called Vosges Chocolate. The company seeks to "change the world with chocolate" and serves up a very avant garde approach to the chocolate truffle. Among other outrageous truffle collections is The Aztec Collection, a portion of whose proceeds go towards VDay and ending the violence against the women of Juarez. For the fashion forward, my friend Lia, of Malia Designs works with microenterprises in developing countries and distributes original handbags in an effort to raise awareness on human trafficking and issues surrounding violence against women. More needs to be done, on my part, to open the lines of communication on this issue, but for now, we can all help alleviate the events a world away, one chocolate and clutch purse at a time. So, for those of you who must participate in the piñata of all capitalistic piñatas, known as Valentine's Day, do it with a conscience. Remember the voiceless women and girls who have been abandoned by those who do have a voice.
And…for the truly indulgent….I've included several links below, meant to refine your palette, increase your purse collection, grow your brains and (hopefully) your hearts. I looooove you all. Happy Valentine's Day. I accept any and all gifts (in the form of champagne)…but please hold the marriage proposals…I can't handle any marriage proposals at the moment. love love love love love love love. There. I said it!
Cosecha de Mujeres is exhaustive coverage of the situation in Juarez, written by the world's foremost journalist on the subject. A sobering read…and I think it's available in English now.