Feminist Fill-in: Cristina Jiménez Dahlia Grossman-heinze
Cristina Jiménez: undocumented and unafraid
Cristina Jiménez is not going anywhere. She’s the executive director and cofounder of United We Dream (UWD), “the largest immigrant youth–led organization in the country,” and the recipient of a Macarthur Foundation fellowship, making her a certified genius. We asked Jiménez about activism, what inspires her, and being undocumented and unafraid. —Dahlia Grossman-heinze
I live by the words “undocumented and unafraid.” You’ll hear UWD members chant this at every rally, every meeting, and every time we take over the halls of Congress.
My favorite books to recommend are Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler; Women Writing Resistance: Essays on Latin America and the Caribbean, edited by Jennifer Browdy; and This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga.
The musicians that keep me going are Nina Simone and Omara Portuondo. Their lyrics and rhythms uplift my soul. I will always advocate for my community —and dignity and freedom for all people. The people who most inspire me are my mother and father, who fled poverty and violence to move our family to the United States in 1998. It was not a luxurious choice. It was a matter of life or death. They wanted to make sure I would not only survive, but also get a chance to pursue dreams that were not possible in Ecuador.
The accomplishment I am proudest of is being part of UWD, because we created a space where thousands of immigrant young people do not feel alone, a space where they can overcome their fears— not only for themselves, but also to fight for their parents and community. This generation will transform communities and the country at large.
My advice to aspiring activists is learn the rules of the game you’re playing better than anyone else, and then be fearless enough to fuck shit up so you can destroy that game.
The future is women of color. Women of color are bringing power, love, and transformation to our institutions and to our democracy.