Fem­i­nist Fill-in: Cristina Jiménez Dahlia Gross­man-heinze

Cristina Jiménez: un­doc­u­mented and un­afraid

Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture - - TRAVEL -

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.

iil­lus­tra­tion by Jes­sica De Je­sus

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