Triumphing Against the Odds

Carmen Mojica
Posted February 19, 2016 from United States

When the word triumph came up for me in the past, I thought it was associated with worldly success and trophies. In that respect, I did not feel like I would ever triumph. As a Black Latina woman in the United States, it is easy to feel defeated with the odds stacked against me. I am what some people would call a double negative - being both a woman and of a darker hue, I lay on the bottom of the socioeconomic food chain. Nonetheless, as I thrive in adversity, I understand the ways I have indeed triumphed over the obstacles that have threatened to make my life another statistic. I am not a double negative. I am a positive force in the world and my desire to heal informs the work I do.

Black women are more likely to experience every sort of ill and risk at a higher rate than their white counterparts. We are not expected to succeed or stay alive as long as some of us do. Born and raised in the Bronx, I am expected to end up in a low wage job, have multiple children as a single mother, barely gain a high school diploma, and develop a chronic illness. All of these expectations are created by the image that society has of my beloved hometown. Further, the people who experience these conditions did not choose them but rather are forced into these positions by a long history of imperialism, colonization and capitalism. I have an awareness of these -isms and how they impact my livelihood; still I march along my journey of self-determination.

I have struggled with mental health issues nearly all my life. It has been debilitating at times. My family has lived in poverty without an ability to save for a college tuition. I have been subjected to less than ideal health care providers and facilities, sometimes traumatized by my interaction with reproductive health services available in my community. My entire being has been sexually violated in a way that nearly destroyed me. Being a Black Latina has made me susceptible to racism on a individual and collective level, deepening my anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. There were many times I wanted to lay down and die. I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. Oppression can be so suffocating and often it snuffs out the flame of many bright lights who never had the chance.

"You have a relentless spirit that won't let you rest," my first psychotherapist said to me. I have always been a fighter. My mother is one of the strongest women I know and I inherited her strength. Despite the expectation to not make it to college, I was able to go to a state college and graduate with a Bachelor's degree. During my undergraduate career, I accepted that I was suffering from depression and anxiety. Embarking on a healing journey to heal my mental health and relationship to my reproductive system, I began to find my passion for women's health and the empowerment of people in the African diaspora.

I use my journey and experience to inform my work as a midwife, writer, and human rights activist. For the last eight years, I have commited myself to the liberation of Black people through writing a book about my AfroLatina identity and presenting at colleges, universities and other institutions. I utilize my life as a way to help others contextualize their lives within a race and class analysis. During the last five years, I have gained experience as a doula and midwife, attending a little over 100 births with countless women receiving advice from me throughout their reproductive lives. Healing from sexual trauma and sharing my story with others has created space of healing for others who resonate with my experience. I have triumphed and continue to do so by helping others triumph.

Transforming the World from the Inside Out

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