Guerrilla Feminist Focus: Amanda Alcantara
Welcome to our weekly column, Guerrilla Feminist Focus, where we feature one badass Guerrilla Feminist!
Name: Amanda Alcantara
1. Tell us a about yourself. What projects are you currently working on?
My name is Amanda Alcantara aka Radical Latina. I’m a feminist Afro-Latina writer, poet, journalist and community organizer. Right now I’m working on fundraising for a magazine called La Galería Magazine was co-founded by myself and two other bad-ass womanist Afro-Latinas Isabel Cristina and Ynanna Djehuty. It’s a magazine for Dominicans who live in the Diaspora. Because I’m a first generation Dominican-American (born here, raised in DR), I’ve always felt this split in my life between the US and the DR. In Spanish we say “con un pie aquí y otro allá” (with one foot here and another there). I was going through a shitty depression in 2014 and went back to the DR after not having been there for almost 4 years and the trip truly made me feel reconnected to who I was…it made me realize that maybe I don’t even have to choose and I can actually fully embrace my Dominicanness while knowing that it intersects with my life here. The magazine which was co-founded with two other bad-ass womanist Afro-Latinas Isabel Cristina and Ynanna Djehuty is actually meant to highlight that intersection. You can view our indiegogo video here: https://www.indiegogo.com/
2. What are you passionate about? Why?
I’m passionate about healing, about my community, about writing, and about womanhood and fighting for women’s rights. Through my self-healing and growing, I noticed how much of the shit I went through as a kid centered around my being a young girl who had to navigate being silenced while proving her worth. For example, I was slutshamed and simultaneously told to be sexy and to appeal to men. Overall, I believe that women of color are magic, and not in a we-cut-but-don’t-bleed kind of way. I believe we are magic because femininity (in all of it’s forms) is magic: to me it means being connected to the earth and the moon, it means fighting for love, and it means doing all this while embracing our sexuality, our beauty and our intelligence. And I understand this definition is subjective to my own experience. To be honest, it hurts that we’re so wonderful and yet live in a world where anything deemed feminine and coming from people of color is deemed worthless.
3. What activist efforts are you involved in? What causes do you support?
I’m currently focusing on a project I did this Summer for school which was interviewing women who live on the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti–I was inspired by Gloria Anzaldúas work on borderlands and by the strong activism fighting anti-blackness, to travel there and highlight these stories from a strength and womanist perspective. I also do activism mainly through my journalism, my writing on Radical Latina and also through my work with La Galería Magazine. You see, we (La Galería) want to be a platform that can highlight the activism folks are doing in the street.
4. What do you like most about doing activist work on social media platforms? Why?
I have been a writer since I can remember. To me writing is a strength, and I write to survive. To me, being able to get an idea to a lot of people at the same time is powerful, as is documenting stories and the activism that happens in the streets. It’s not easy doing activism on social media because it often comes with harassment and very little tolerance; I doubt that we can truly change someone’s mind via the internet unless that person is coming into the conversation ready to learn…when I started blogging as Radical Latina, I don’t think I was sure of what I was getting into. Now, I almost feel that I have to do activism through social media because it’s where most conversations are happening. One more thing I’ll add is that if it wasn’t for social media platforms, I probably wouldn’t have a space to even write and put my stuff out there…when I graduated with a degree in journalism in 2012 I got rejected for work from a lot of news platforms, so to me Radical Latina was a way of reclaiming my experience and my journalism without needing those platforms–what I had to give up was a paycheck which I was able to do because I found other exciting work to sustain me, and I know not everyone has that opportunity.
5. What or who inspires you?
Whenever someone asks me this, the answer or person changes. Right now, to be honest, younger me inspires me. Sometimes I wanna go back and hug little me and tell myself that I’m doing just fine. And sometimes I picture future Amanda thinking the same of me and that helps me get through the insecurities that come whenever I post a creative writing piece or poem, or whenever I put myself out there in any way to be honest.
I remember at 14 years old, I use to be in the Guías Scouts (Girls Scouts in the Dominican Republic), and I tried starting a troupe of young girls by where I lived. So I got the “blessing” from my scout counselor and created flyers, spoke to people at a community center right across the street from where I lived, and went knocking on people’s doors. It’s funny to think back to that because people were really surprised when they looked at me but I didn’t understand why back then though now I do: there I was a 14-year-old asking parents to trust me with their little girls on Saturday afternoons, asking this community center to let me use the space with no grownups around. Would you trust your 6-year old daughter with a teenager running her own camp? Anyway, the first Saturday 2 parents dropped their daughters off (with a lot of hesitance). We played games together, I had them paint and tell each other about their dreams. The second Saturday only one returned. The third Saturday no one came, so I cancelled it. And looking back I’m just like “damn I was so brave.” I did all that on my own and could’ve really used someone to just prop me up and tell me precisely how brave and badass I was. *Sends a hug to mini me*
6. Since activist burnout is a very real thing, how do you practice self-care?
Activism burnout is a very real thing. I try to stay off the internet. When I miss a protest, I try to remind myself that I’m active and my worth as an organizer and a human being isn’t determined by how much work I do.
On a practical level, I paint for self-care (especially since I’m not a painter so it feels personal), I light incense, listen to good music, sleep a lot, do herbal baths with rose petals or basil. I have a bunch of lavender things everywhere to help with anxiety: lavender tea, lavender oil, lavender sachets, lavender lotion. Everything lavender. And I love teas of all kinds, learning about herbs has been central to my healing journey and I just found out my paternal grandmother who I never met was a curandera, so through herbs I also remember to be grateful for the gifts of mother earth (whom we must protect) and my ancestors.
7. Do you have any advice for those wanting to engage in activism (either online or offline)?
Be yourself and do the work that you feel is important not the work that others tell you is important, but also be willing to learn, don’t be afraid to fuck up, and know that your worth isn’t measured by your activism but in simply being human and alive.
8. Where can people follow you online?
You can also like my page on Facebook: Radical Latina