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“Yes, I will be a writer and make all of you live again in my words.”
― Carlos Bulosan, America Is in the Heart: A Personal History
Jana Lynne (JL) Umipig's writing is expressive of the times she lives. She is constantly using her writing to channel her life's lessons, lessons from her ancestors, lessons from exchanges with amazing people she has been blessed to build with, and lessons from the divine. She writes to share what moves her in her living. She keeps a keen eye and an open heart to the shifts of the world so she might be able to write in a way that "reflect the times," (the Goddess, Nina Simone).
CURRENT FEATURED WRITING PIECES
DECOLONIZING BODIES - MOTHERLAND IS ME
The plants are messengers, they are healers, they are mediums that bring us back to our whole beings. They make us look at what we do not want to, in our own bodies and also around us. The plants make us confront the unspoken, they grow more persistently when we need them most; the land provides everything that we need to survive, if only we let her lead us in our re-membering. Every plant that comes from motherland, when exported to another place in the diaspora, still carries with it the memories of where it came. They are specific teachers that tell us of our peoples, what makes them thrive, what they need to survive, the common illnesses that they may suffer, what keeps them sustained and nourished.
SISTERHOOD IS SACRED
A common phrase that was continually used throughout my life as a peacemaking tool between my sister and I came from the lips of my grandmother:
"Ayayatem ta kabsat mo, ta dudua kayo nga ag kabsat a babae /
You have to love your sister, you are the only two girls."
The loving of each other as sister, as Womxn with a special bond, was emphasized above just loving one another as human beings or as family. I witnessed the way she lived those words with her own sisters, my great-Aunts, and taught them also to her daughters, my mother and two aunties. The Womxn would sit together, around the cooking of food, around the nursing of children, around the caring of the home, around the loving of each other. (Read more at HellaPinay.com)
BLACK AND BROWN: THE ANCESTRAL COLORS OF RESISTANCE ECHOING LIBERATION IN OUR SKIN
Liberation is at the heart of human being. Liberation is at the heart of the universe. Liberation is what drives us to live. Freedom is Core to our existence. We learn this from the Animals, the Land, the Water, the Sky, from our most ancient of Ancestors - they remind us to return to the truth of being Free. And those of us who remember this, those of us who acknowledge this truth, have no other choice but to resist when our Liberty is threatened. Black and Brown communities in the United States and all over the world have faced continuous threat to our existence by those who have forgotten the Freedom that binds us to one another, who have been driven by things that oppose liberation and that confine and restrict human beings’ ability to be truly free - greed, power, and ego. (Read more at HellaPinay.com)
NOT THE BEGINNING - CONTINUATION: REFLECTIONS ON THE WOMXN'S MARCH IN D.C.
I marched in D.C. this past Saturday.
I chose to make the drive from NYC to be in that particular space of gathering because of my identity as a Pilipina, a Womxn of Color, the daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of Immigrants, a teacher and community organizer of Afro-Latinx, Undocumented, Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Poor youth and their families and as an advocate for every underrepresented and unable who could not make it to D.C., or who are not yet in a place of understanding about why being visible with our concerns and our perspectives on equality and justice are more important than ever. (Read more at HellaPinay.com)
MEDICINES FOR THE BODY, MIND, AND SPIRIT IN THE TIME OF TRUMP
In the past week I have been ill with the flu, and I have heard from so many that “it’s getting around.” I was taught by many elders just how much our physical ailments are a reflection and connected deeply to the ailments of our spirits. And in this week, I have heard and read the statuses of my communities and loved ones of being ill and in pain from not only the flu, but by the impending inauguration that will solidify the instating of a man as the leader of this country who cares very little for the wellness and the liberation of our communities. We are entering a time when the sicknesses of this country, that are rooted in ignorance, indifference and hate will have us searching for medicine to heal us and to build up our holistic immune systems.
I am focused greatly on medicine for the Body, Mind and Spirit - and was asked to share what I am doing in this time to ready myself for what is to come. (Read more at HellaPinay.com)
CONFRONTING APPROPRIATION AND THE STRUGGLE TO
I have been reflecting on the conflicts arising within my community around topics of identity in its relation to representation of ancestry, and how to navigate around the realness of appropriation.
I have invested my life’s work to remembering and healing myself wholly as a human being, as a wom*n, as a person of color in the United States, and most particularly as a Pilipina-American/daughter of immigrants in the Philippine Diaspora - a child raised from Colonization.
It is such a struggle to have to piece yourself back together from an upbringing where your parents’ main agenda in raising you on a land far from where your ancestors were from, was to assimilate you: to remove you from the language, the cultural mindsets, the land (as it relates to labor and the poverty they experienced), and any trace of indigenous beliefs and practices. This is the story that I unpack daily, and is also the story of many other 2nd, 3rd, and so on-generation Pilipino-Americans and Pilipinos raised in the diaspora I have met and exchanged with. (Read more at HellaPinay.com)
CONFRONTING ANTI-BLACKNESS and WHITE SUPREMACY IN THE PILIPINX COMMUNITY WITH ACTS OF DECOLONIZAION
I was raised in it and continue to hear even my parents in states of ignorance, bound to those imbedded colonized beliefs that those with dark, black and brown skin are lesser than. I see how my Aunt whitens her skin with products sold in the Philippines that promise beautification through skin lightening. I watch the self-hate unfold when elders and youth use umbrellas to shade themselves in resistance to the sun activating their melanin. I remember the day I told my parents I was dating a man of Dominican descent and they asked me “What is that? Is that black?” with a tone of concern in their voices - to which I answered, “Yes, Afro-Caribbean. He has African ancestry. Why? Is there something wrong with that?” My father stayed silent.
I recalled moments in my upbringing where I witnessed my family echoing the constructed identities created by our ancestral oppressors and making judgements about Black brothers and sisters that perpetuated stereotypical ideas - that they were dangerous, criminals, and delinquents; that to be Black meant to be poor, wild, and uncultured. It’s painful to have grown up accepting that my parents held racist beliefs, and it caused a lot of conflict between us throughout my upbringing. But as I aged, what I understood more and more is that my parents were conditioned to believe in these imposed truths from a long line of conditioning through colonization. These racist ideas have been affirmed by societal constructs of institutionalized racism that continue to allow racism to thrive in the most insidious ways. (Read more at HellaPinay.com)
ALIGNING PRACTICE WITH APPROACH: CHECKING IN ABOUT PATRIARCHY IN DECOLONIZATION WORK
We cannot have a true conversation about Decolonization and Liberation if you’re not willing to also have a conversation about Patriarchy. As a Pinay in the diaspora of Turtle Island, I understand intersectionality of oppression and intertwining of struggle, and I hold very firmly to the belief that “nothing is separate, all is connected.” The term Kapwa is a core value in the Philippines that describes this notion of seeing ourselves in all others. When we forget the truth of interconnectedness, we remain in states of division that uphold colonial practices.
I particularly speak on the construction of Patriarchy here because I have found it to be one of the most pervasive illnesses of colonization that stops us from being able to humanize one another. As a womxn of color who roots her entire living in decolonization and re-indigenization work, I have encountered the ways Patriarchy continues to create divisiveness and unhealthy power dynamics that are counter to the core principles of decolonization work. Patriarchy never works alone; as bell hooks writes in “Understanding Patriarchy,” the foundation of United States politics is “imperialist, white-supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy.” As I continue this talk about Patriarchy in relation to decolonization work, I want you to keep in mind all of the other interlocking political systems that influence this struggle as well. We cannot fight against injustice without understanding what role we have played and will play in the process of our liberation from injustice. Psychotherapist John Bradshaw speaks on the rules of Patriarchal governance as based on “blind obedience - the foundation on which patriarchy stands - where there is a repression of all emotions except fear; the destruction of individual willpower; and the repression of thinking whenever it departs from the authority figure's way of thinking.” (Read more at HellaPinay.com)