Pinay Organizing in Austin
I grew up in the Bay Area, California. I started to work with other Pinays through the Filipino Youth Coalition (FYC) around the age of 12. During college, I worked alongside various progressive groups that addressed and challenged issues in San Francisco Pilipino communities. Issues ranged from the overwhelming domestic violence struggles of Pinays and their families to immigrant youth and gang violence. The community work, solidarity, music, visual art, poetry, dance, was so solid growing up, that I was fortunate enough to grow up feeling damn proud to be Pinay. I also learned how to come together with other Pinays, other womyn and radical brothers from various backgrounds in order to create and build out of love— something many others in different regions in the US rarely get to experience. I never thought that I would leave.
Over the past 4 years, I have been visiting Austin, Texas. I have felt a ton of love from a small group of Pinays who have welcomed me and cared for me (still waiting to meet Pinoys. I’ve met only 1 Pinoy over 4 years! If you know any, introduce ha?!). I’ve learned to be humble, to learn and listen. Just because I come from an area that allowed me to be surrounded by highly politicized Pin@ys does not give me the right to push my knowledge and my experience onto them. I have more to learn from them. Through humility, I have broadened my understanding and respect for their experiences, their histories. Still, we come together on different levels. They have welcomed me as a sister, and I am deeply grateful.
This month, I moved to Texas. I start graduate school at Texas State in the fall and I have to admit that I wouldn’t have done this if I did not know that there was much to learn from the region, the people. I definitely wouldn’t have done if it I had not learned already that the folks here dance with arms open. I am excited to gain more knowledge about the Pinay work being done in this area. I am ignorant of the organizations, groups, events and traditions of Pin@ys down here.
If any Tejana Pinays read this and have fresh ideas in regards to addressing issues or coming together in other cultural contexts, I am down for speaking, for listening and learning. It is my hope that, somehow, my experiences can bring something to the table as well.
Women working in a rice field, oil on canvas painting by Philippine painter Fabian de la Rosa (1869-1937), 1902 Wikipedia Commons 26 September 2013
Niki Escobar is an adopted Pilipina born in the Bataan, and raised in The Bay Area. She graduated from the Creative Writing program at San Francisco State University, and currently teaches community based poetry. Her poems, paintings, and prose can be found in literary magazines and collections like Mythium, Red Wheelbarrow, The Walrus, Maganda Magazine, and Walang Hiya: Literature Taking Risks Toward Liberatory Practice. She works with the differently-abled as a wellness educator, and speaker for LGBTQ awareness. She lives in the Bay Area with her son.
She is not a snobby artist(she crosses her heart), despite writing this bio in third person. Leave her a message and she'll be your BFF.
Follow Niki at http://bookandbolo.tumblr.com/