By way of rupture, AFROntera—the borderland, afro, mestizo, and anti¬colonial collective—proposes to vindicate identity as a strategy and political position and not as an end, against all essentialism and betting on revolutionary love and radical sincerity.
Mexico City, Mexico,
March 8, 2021
In response to the rise of Eurocentric and colonialist feminism, we at AFROntera vociferously proclaim on this eighth of March 2021, that we are not feminists. We are not interested in defending ourselves from the space of feminism because we don’t fit within it.
We aren’t women, we are beasts. We are Prietes (dark-skinned), Black, Sudakas (South Americans), Chicanas, migrants, whores, Indias, trans, transvestites, poor, peripheral, fronterizas (borderlanders), the granddaughters and great-granddaughters of all of those who were exploited on plantations, in the sugar harvest, in the maquila factories, in the free-trade zones, on the farms, and in the family homes of white men and women. Only women are human and only humans can be feminists.
The idea of being a woman is a colonial invention that was assigned to European women and Criollo-Mestizas in Abya Yala. In turn, we racialized women were invented as non-humans, beasts, and savages. We are the result of the coloniality of gender and the construction of the world around the paradigm of race.
Feminism is a space only for women—diverse women, but women nonetheless. Articulating a movement around a subject constructed out of Western subjectivity is a grave error. For we have never been and are not women. Nor are we men. We reject the gender binary, heterosexuality as a political regime, and all the binary logic of sexuality that is upheld by capitalism and coloniality.
We believe it is important to construct a collective out of that which is not virtual. We must return to that part of the body which is ineffable—the gesture, living words, the gaze. In this pandemic, looking each other in the face, embracing each other, and dancing together has become something potentially revolutionary. We refuse to use social media as a revolutionary end in itself. Our political goal is out there with and among people, in the possibilities of the street, not in an Instagram post with ostentatious claims and bright colors. We use social media strategically and with moderation as a channel of communication and dissemination and as a means of connecting with people in other countries who, like ourselves, are organizing themselves against the matrix of oppression.
You can’t be a womanist; you can’t interpret from only one point of view because experience doesn’t come from just one place, but rather from many places, and it intersects with many different coordinates.
We aren’t separatists because the problem is bigger than that: What should I do about my incarcerated brother? What should I do about my father? What should I do about my uncles and cousins? We don’t reject them because it is with them that we found love and not with the Western-centric and bourgeois feminists who say, “Reject your families because your families oppress you.” Maybe yours does, white girl.
We believe that the idea of being a woman is fundamentally essentialist and biological. The idea of woman exists in a relational logic to the idea of the heterosexual, which is foundational to capitalism and coloniality. To be a woman is an aspirational concept; it entails emulating the white and the Northern-centric. We, the nonhumans. always want to be feminists because we want to be more human, more female, more progressive, more civilized, more enlightened… This doesn’t mean that from today onwards we will stop calling ourselves women, but rather that we understand that living in extra-European lands, we are in a constant struggle with the idea of being a good, empowered woman or a good victim.
We reject trans-exclusionary lesbianism as racist and essentialist. Being among women doesn’t guarantee anything because being a lesbian doesn’t exclude you from subjective production in the matrix of integrated global power. It is disingenuous to think that being lesbian makes you liberated; we believe that coitus isn’t always rape, as many racist radical feminists affirm. For us, rape is what the masters did on the plantations with our Black ancestors or what happens today in family homes. Many of us, Black women or third world Mestiza marikitas, find liberation, love, and revolution—things that were so long denied us—in our sexuality. We are capable of making free and consensual decisions. Shut up white girls and let us speak for ourselves!
Feminism is not an emancipatory theory because it seeks to insert itself into the intimacy of our beds and dictate how, when, and with whom we should sleep. WE WANT TO BE FREE.
At AFROntera, we take the side of questions rather than of orders. We believe in the power of asking the right questions at the right time to generate movement and transformation.
In the same way, we reject mainstream LGBTI+ culture, which is falling apart and is no longer dissident, having become instead one more entity assimilated by the logic of representation and capital.
We demand a movement that is dissident and counter-sexual in response to the political regime of heterosexuality—one that doesn’t depend upon the white gay-queer culture of the Global North. We embrace all the peripheral marikas that live with us in the plantation quarters.
They seek to render invisible our roots that lie with other women who have subverted the modern, white, and patriarchal system. We believe it is necessary to say that feminism in Mexico has served only to perpetuate all the discourses and practices that negate our existence.
The denial of our bodies, our knowledge, our emotional ties; opposing them to hate speech. For us, white trans-hating feminism is the same as radical feminism that claims not to be trans-hating but that has failed to question its own class, racial, and gender privilege.
Enough of trying to proselytize with the theory of white women who respond only to their own privilege. We condemn the Christocentrism that abounds in social movements.
We believe that we do not need feminism in order to actively oppose sexism, racism, and colonialism. We are antiracist, anticolonial, and antipatriarchal. We are the children of ancestors who gave us liberty and we live to continue their legacy of struggle and resistance.
Anacaona was not feminist; neither were Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks. However, we recognize that their anticolonial, antipatriarchal, and antiracist political practices have contributed to Black feminist thinking and to genealogies of resistance among Indigenous women. For this reason, we are fed up with the fact that women who would never have aligned with the racist assertions of white feminist theory have been conscripted into the ranks of white Eurocentric feminists. We don’t want our popola to be colonized as feminists. A popola is not the same as a woman and much less a feminist.
Feminism in Mexico is not only not antiracist, it is racist because it has excluded us. We are tired of people thinking that the only way of fighting and organizing today is through feminism. We are shocked by the shameless ignorance around the history of resistance undertaken by racialized peoples who have spent 500 years confronting the system.
Nor do we agree with the hierarchization of oppression that certain antiracist groups within the racialized community engage in. Enough with the sterile online discussions about whether Indigenous or Black people suffered more during the colonial period. What is understood as indio as well as Black, and even Mestizo and all the categories of caste invented under colonialism, experience oppression. We refuse to fight with our nonhuman siblings.
We believe it is important to defend identity, but not as an end in itself. Let identities be strategic and political and not biological, as our sisters in the struggle Ochy Curiel and Yuderkys Espinosa Miñoso have shown us.
Oppression Olympics do not build community. In exchange for them, we propose efficacious and revolutionary love as well as radical sincerity in a direct and frank dialogue. We love and respect each other so much that we believe it isn’t necessary to always agree on everything in order to be and work together. We consider it fundamental to building community that people be able to speak without fear of being cancelled, judged, or iced out.
The most radical thing today is to stop being feminist and make a political commitment to dismantle the coloniality of sex and gender, racist violence, capitalist oppression, carceral domination, and the control of the state apparatus.
We support sex work. If you want to abolish something, let’s start with the abolition of domestic work, jails, factories, and every job in the world that strengthens capital.
We do not participate in 8M because of its whiteness, because we have always had to justify our presence there. We will not use the tools of the master to fight against the network of power. We abandon the house of feminism and the entire plantation. Enough.
This is a political declaration issued by the AFROntera Collective. It does not pretend to be an academic text—in fact, quite the opposite It is fueled by our experiences in spaces that we believed were emancipatory, but which ended up hurting us. We are putting our motives and intentions on the table, calling out to the collective debate out of revolutionary love in order to build alliances outside of the West and invite our allies to escape with us.
Translator’s note: A portmanteau of Afro (African) and frontera (border).
Translator’s note: Sudaca is a pejorative term or slur that indicates a person from South America. It appears in the manifesto in the form sudaka, the “k” indicating that it has been reappropriated as a term of pride by people whom it was originally intended to oppress.
Translator’s note: In the Spanish version of this manifesto, the authors use the term Indias. In both Spanish and English, this term is charged and can be considered disrespectful. However, like many of the racial terms mobilized in this article, its use can also indicate a reappropriation.
Translator’s note: Marica is a slang derogatory term for a gay or queer person, which is also widely used as an affectionate term of friendship in certain parts of Latin America. Its spelling with a “k” indicates its reappropriation as a term of pride by those who it is intended to oppress.
Translator’s note: Popola is a slang word for “vagina.”
Translator’s note: 8M refers to March 8, International Women’s Day.
Members: Waquel Drullard, Astrid Cuero, Brenda Nava, and Valeria Angola.