(This blog is from the Summer of 2016.)
Howdy! My name is Delva (but I go by Chelsea) Reyes Rodriguez and I am a rising Senior majoring in History and minoring in Creative Writing. I was born in Puerto Cortez, Honduras and raised in Los Angeles, California. How would I hashtag myself? Good question that you never asked. #intersectionalfeminist #memer #socialmediajunkie #musicaficionado.
I can’t remember when I first proclaimed to be a feminist. The intersectional adjective is hard for me to place a date on; and, what do I mean by intersectional? The label feminist was easy enough to embrace for me once I came online to the foundation of feminism- women seeking equal rights. However. Feminism as a concept is ambiguous and amorphous. Many more factors affect women than just gender–other factors that are the basis for inequality and oppression. Growing up I knew firsthand about socioeconomic inequality. I immigrated to Los Angeles from Honduras at the age of three and faced all the challenges immigrants faced, but I watched my then very young mother struggle because of her adjectives. She is Hispanic, a woman, an immigrant whom could not speak English, and a single mother. As I grew up, I recognized these other factors complicating her life and realized that not every woman dealt with the same oppression. There had to be more than the white feminist ideals and imagery toted by the media. I identify as an intersectional feminist because I believe there is more at work than simply gender involved in the discrimination and oppression of women, but beyond that intersectionality in any movement is the basis for its growth and flourishing. Because of intersectional feminism women from every aspect of life is able to embrace feminism, which is ultimately my hope- that a woman anywhere in the world can see her#feminismself as part of feminism because she has a place being a feminist and supporting feminism.
This is a good transition into why I chose
Moxie is my chance to join the tradition of activism, but Moxie is taking a chance on me. I chose Moxie not only because I wanted to contribute to something bigger than myself but to grow. When I originally thought about applying for Duke Engage I was convinced by peers, professors, and myself that going abroad was the only way to do any good, let along take advantage of the opportunity. My first year at Duke I applied and was rejected by a Duke Engage international program. I have never been more grateful to be rejected by Duke because later that year something wonderful happened- I went to my first feminist meeting. Surrounded by intelligent, passionate women I realized there was plenty of work to be done for women right here. Listening to their stories of everyday struggles with everything from getting birth control to street harassment. Fast forward to my third year. At some point between attending those meetings and joining Duke’s Women’s Collective I met Katie and other Moxies. They spoke vibrantly about Moxie and Ada, the program’s director. It was these interactions and a deep internal nagging that pushed me to apply for Moxie. I knew I had beliefs, many in fact detailed and intricate in their origin and reasoning but I wanted more. Moxie IS empowering (professionally, socially, politically).
This summer I am working with Brooklyn Movement Center. BMC is a community organizing non-profit located in Bedford-Stuyvesant (Wikipedia tells me the locals refer to it as Bed-Stuy…good to know). The organization targets specific issues impacting the community and searches for concrete, structural solutions to reform institutional issues. The communities BMC serves drive the organization, making its leadership tight knit, strong, and driven. By interning at BMC I am finding place in the community, and my hope is that interning there will give me a small space to understand activism and community organizing, especially when I am an outsider to that community.
My hashtags are the way I see myself, but others may not see me the same way. I plan on taking great strides being conscious of my position in a community I have never been to before. As an outsider I am tasked with gathering information about the neighborhood from those I work with, not personal experience; this challenge may be the most exciting thing for me. I am not saying I am bringing something new to the table for BMC. I am not going to come in day 1 and solve issues that residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant have grappled with long before I arrived. All I can offer is my enthusiasm and desire to help while accepting that solutions and treatments to the issues may come long after me.