The Time Has Come

The time has come to speak of many things- Lewis Carroll

When Lewis Carroll wrote that he didn’t know about Moxie. Since saying goodbye to the Moxies just a week ago I haven’t spoken of much else. A lot has happened this week…the Democratic National Convention…but I’ve stayed in the Moxie mindset, i.e I’ve dissected my life and I can’t go back. All summer I listened to people bash feminists casually, bash non-profits casually, and criticize Duke Engage casually, but I was enveloped in the warm embrace of my sisters in Moxie so…

I was immune from the haters obviously, as I was chilling in NYC with my feminist cohort, supported by my non-profit, the program coordinator, and the director. But now I am back in the real world and in a month I’ll be working for an unnamed corporation (the kind that runs background checks and drug tests). How have I adjusted to being thrown back into the real world?


Post-Moxie, everything looks different. The grass on the other side of woke is not greener, it’s jade and emerald.


From Brighton Beach with Love

So it’s finally warming up in NYC, which means the city is a ball of fire.

What NYC feels like right now

What NYC feels like right now

So I decided to see what the East Coast offers in beaches. Disclaimer: I am from the West Coast, Southern California to get a little more specific; therefore, I am picky about my beaches, sun, and fun soooo I chose Brighton Beach. Here’s why: I wanted to reunite with my favorite group of ethnic whites. In my undergraduate career I learned about Russia and Russians by learning their history, culture, and language intensively at Duke. I took a break the last few semesters from Russian language courses so I decided to visit Brighton, the closest I was going to get to Saint Petersburg.

It was a pretty appropriate week to participate in culture exchange. This week we tackled culture production, cultural approriation, and assimilation. We read the timeless bell hooks and a Fader Magazine article both about the exploitation of the “other”, the alternative culture (usually African American or black culture) in the United States being used for cultural production by usually the more powerful group (more often than not whites). Ultimately cultural production from borrowing from a disadvantaged group by a group in a position of power or majority. This erases the meaning, culture, and history of what was taken, see box braids on Kylie Jenner or Bo Derek back in the day in cornrows.

Bo Derek in cornrows in the 1970's....noooot okay then and not okay now

Bo Derek in cornrows in the 1970’s….noooot okay then and not okay now

But back to the Russians in Brighton Beach. Russians are historically considered “ethnic” whites, a group that includes Italian Americans and Jewish Americans (at one point in history this included Irish Americans); therefore, historically they have been a disadvantaged group in immigration to the United States, employment, language, etc. But I am a mixed raced young immigrant woman, how could i take from a white culture at all considering I am the “other”? I didn’t want to take anything that wasn’t mine or appreciate culture on a surface level but I wanted to enjoy the beach.

giphy (1)

The first step in cultural exchanges is denaturalizing misconceptions about the culture you’re exchanging with. The second step in recognizing you are a visitor to another culture, not a voyeur or a tourist. The third and last step is paying respect the culture, ie not imposing your cultural norms onto theirs.

Well I knew I could not go in  ooo-ing and aww-ing at the Cyrillic storefronts or take the clothing they wore (even the speedos) as unusual or think that the water they were drinking was vodka. Tanning on the beach amongst the Russian and Ukrainian speakers, I was going to bask in their culture as well as the sun. As I ate the Russian dumplings at a restaurant where no one spoke English I indulged in boiled cabbage and thanked my waitress in Russian. I interacted with other beach goers: shout out to the old Russian man who complimented my tattoos in broken English. I spoke Russian when I could manage and broke back to English when I couldn’t.

What people probably thought Brighton Beach was like

What people probably thought Brighton Beach was like

Overall I got a nice tan, ate boiled food, and practiced my Russian. Culture exchange? CHECK

Neoliberalism and You

Ah, neoliberalism.

According to Investopedia it is:  a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector.

V broad my friends, v broad.

Neoliberalism feels overarching, like it’s far above us, some academic term but it infiltrates every part of our lives. It’s the difference between the way we view the Wall Street banker and the bum on Fulton Street. Neoliberalism is basically the transfer from the public, government sphere to the private, non-profit world of services for the “needy”. It places the blame and glory upon the individual, leaving the affected alone to wither on the vine of society. The individual’s failure and success relies primely on themselves. So success and failure are all yours:

pug thinking legit thoughts

How do I feel about this after 6 weeks of Moxie?

Maybe it is all about the individual? Why not follow this premise to its end…


Number 1: So my race and gender have nothing to do with my level of success

Number 2: Men, specifically white men, do not rule the world

Number 3: The capitalist, globalized world does not affect me


race and gender

I reject neoliberalism. Neoliberalism does not account for the essential -isms that pervade the life of the individual, especially things like race and gender and class. After working at BMC for six weeks I know there is more to life than just the individual’s descriptors, it is about the community identifiers attached to the individual. For example, I cannot in good conscience say that I feel my success is my own, because it would erase the good work people I identify with have done. Part of what Moxie has taught me is the importance and prevalence of community in our lives. Nothing is done alone or in separation from our communities.

The rationale of neoliberalism has disproportionately impacted women–in fact, it has oppressed women around the world through the social and economic policies of globalization. In the articles from seminar this week we read about true life examples of globalization (an offshoot of neoliberalism) harming women. Neoliberalism and globalization go hand in hand in increasing the poverty of women around the world, whom bear the brunt of the austere policy decisions. Neoliberalism is the ideology that justifies (for its advocates) the policies and failures of globalization, which ultimately mires itself in capitalist rhetoric and individualist perspective. Globalization has brought Western ideals and ideas to parts of the 2/3rds world. Some Western thoughts include everything from Feminism to the value of the International Monetary Fund. But while the (liberal) feminist idea of empowerment has encouraged women to enter exploitative working conditions, women’s movements around the world have also helped women to unionize and embrace their own versions of feminism.

The upside of all this neoliberalism and neo-individualism is the emergence of new sets of feminists emerging around the world. Neoliberalism is not at odds with the feminist critique of the world directly; however, it views people as individuals with themselves to blame for their successes or failures. It ignores truths and inherent beliefs feminism recognizes like the systemic and structure biases and failures of systems that negatively impact the lives of women. Neoliberalism and globalization have exported the feminist mission to other parts of the world and ignited various discussions about feminism, unions, labor, and women place in the factory and home.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 10.46.30 AM

Don’t Holla at Me

ovarian psycos riding bikes at clit mass

ovarian psycos riding bikes at clitoral mass

A few weeks ago the Moxies attended a film screening about a bicycle group called the Ovarian Psycos . The film chronicled the adventures of a bicycle group in Boyle Heights, a predominantly Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles. This group’s purpose is to retake the neighborhood for women by riding their bikes and howling in the night. They basically howl to make their presence and power known to the men of the neighborhood. The film provoked me. It had me thinking about gender politics, gendered spaces, gendered violence, and race.  Last week those thoughts became fertile through our academic analysis of gender violence, the preceding week’s articles on police violence, and the work of Brooklyn Movement Center .

Now what’s this violence I keep talking about? In Carole Sheffield’s “Sexual Terrorism” article, sexual terrorism is any act of violence committed against women to create an atmosphere of fear. All women live in this atmosphere of terror and while most women will not feel every possible act of violence, every woman will have felt an act. For example, one of the most common actions against women is street harassment. This is a problem which has been increasingly criminalized, but criminalization has failed to curb the harassment.  Instead we are left with criminalized communities and frightened women.

It is no shocking statement to say women live in fear. They fear men, the unknown, the dark, etc. because women are told as girls to be afraid. Women are told to fear strangers, going out at night, dressing scantly clad, and any other number of things. This is repeated to them as little girls and eventually women absorb all of this and become unintentionally and subliminally compliant. Often the older women get, the more they become aware of these perceived dangers and decide to comply.  So how can women ever feel safe if it’s engrained? Or feel like they can walk at night by themselves if they’re socialized to feel unsafe? It’s not self defense courses marketed to them by some ex-cop or ex-military martial arts master.  Women will find their way to feel safe in a world threatening them. So what is the solution?

Well there are alternatives to dealing with things like sexual harassment other than using police action (which harms a community and victims).One way women have found safety from gender violence at BMC is the No Disrespect bike patrols. BMC organizes all female identifying bike patrols in which women patrol against all gendered and sexualized street harassment in Central Brooklyn’s public spaces. Sexualized and gendered street harassment stems from the patriarchy (as does most things). If men didn’t feel entitled to women and their bodies then there would be no harassment. The same aspect of patriarchy that makes men feel they have the right to catcall women is the same aspect that makes men feel like they can physically, physiologically, financially, and legislatively control women’s bodies and lives. However, bikers like the Ovarian Psycos and No Disrespect will continue to push back at this arm of the patriarchy by taking back the streets. As long as there are women and girls on bikes practicing bystander intervention, increasing their visibility, and patrolling, there will be other options to criminalization and solutions to sexual terrorism.

not a girls bike


Choices, Choices, which one should I pick?

eyes wide open

This week we visited CHOICES. Where I revisited the site of some great personal pain. Visiting CHOICES made me think about a woman’s right to choose and the fight for reproductive justice, specifically in New York (where abortion was legal a full two years before Roe v Wade). The experiences I had with abortion in North Carolina and California were nothing like New York’s CHOICES. At CHOICES they ensured from the moment of entrance to the medical center that this was a woman’s choice, that she was not being coerced by anyone to take her power over her own body away.

In North Carolina they presented the state legislated stump speech and gave me two hours to think about my decision and in California they saw me the same day. Both of these experiences without counseling. That was the most impressive part about the operations at CHOICES, that a woman’s physical, emotional, and spiritual well being was being cared for and considered. There is something truly inspiring about the way they do things but they are also led by a charismatic leader- Merle. Merle (having had an abortion herself) will and has always defended a woman’s right to choose, no matter the circumstance or frequency of abortions, a woman will always have rights over her body. There is empowerment to taking back one’s body, especially after society and policy has policed women and women’s bodies.

Meeting Merle was like meeting a pillar of female strength. A true superwoman fighting for women HOWEVER she felt like a problematic fav. As much as I admired her tenacity (which few men can match), the articles we read this week rung loudly through me. Was there something inherently wrong about providing poor women and women of color with reproductive medicine? Whose responsibility is it to decide? I felt that yes, it was a woman’s right and always her right; however, the state and others involve themselves to startling degrees. Beyond the restrictions (worst in states like Texas) and the freedoms in states like California and New York, there remains the moral and ethical boundaries and barriers to women accessing and controlling their own bodies. Moreover there is an issue when it comes to whom exercises their rights (as there usually is). Women with money will always have access and opportunity to deal with unwanted pregnancies, but poor women wont (this is the class dilemma). In terms of where race and class intersect it’s a question of need versus ability.  More women of color and poor women need or want reproductive care and abortions but do not have the money or access to get them, but CHOICES offers them a CHOICE. It is again the right to choose that women like Merle fight for and have been fighting for for forty years.

No matter what I am pro-CHOICES, because it is quintessentially progressive. It gives me a sense of security to know that there are people out there doing the work Merle does, and even more to know they’re a train ride away.

My #Hashtags

helloHowdy! My name is Delva (but I go by Chelsea) Reyes Rodriguez and I am a rising Senior majoring in History and minoring in Creative Writing. I was born in Puerto Cortez, Honduras and raised in Los Angeles, California. How would I hashtag myself? Good question that you never asked. #intersectionalfeminist #memer #socialmediajunkie #musicaficionado.

I can’t remember when I first proclaimed to be a feminist. The intersectional adjective is hard for me to place a date on; and, what do I mean by intersectional? The label feminist was easy enough to embrace for me once I came online to the foundation of feminism- women seeking equal rights. However. Feminism as a concept is ambiguous and amorphous. Many more factors affect women than just gender–other factors that are the basis for inequality and oppression. Growing up I knew firsthand about socioeconomic inequality. I immigrated to Los Angeles from Honduras at the age of three and faced all the challenges immigrants faced, but I watched my then very young mother struggle because of her adjectives. She is Hispanic, a woman, an immigrant whom could not speak English, and a single mother. As I grew up, I recognized these other factors complicating her life and realized that not every woman dealt with the same oppression. There had to be more than the white feminist ideals and imagery toted by the media. I identify as an intersectional feminist because I believe there is more at work than simply gender involved in the discrimination and oppression of women, but beyond that intersectionality in any movement is the basis for its growth and flourishing. Because of intersectional feminism women from every aspect of life is able to embrace feminism, which is ultimately my hope- that a woman anywhere in the world can see her#feminismself as part of feminism because she has a place being a feminist and supporting feminism.

This is a good transition into why I chose
#Moxie #DukeEngage.

Moxie is my chance to join the tradition of activism, but Moxie is taking a chance on me. I chose Moxie not only because I wanted to contribute to something bigger than myself but to grow. When I originally thought about applying for Duke Engage I was convinced by peers, professors, and myself that going abroad was the only way to do any good, let along take advantage of the opportunity. My first year at Duke I applied and was rejected by a Duke Engage international program. I have never been more grateful to be rejected by Duke because later that year something wonderful happened- I went to my first feminist meeting. Surrounded by intelligent, passionate women I realized there was plenty of work to be done for women right here. Listening to their stories of everyday struggles with everything from getting birth control to street harassment. Fast forward to my third year. At some point between attending those meetings and joining Duke’s Women’s Collective I met Katie and other Moxies. They spoke vibrantly about Moxie and Ada, the program’s director. It was these interactions and a deep internal nagging that pushed me to apply for Moxie. I knew I had beliefs, many in fact detailed and intricate in their origin and reasoning but I wanted more. Moxie IS empowering (professionally, socially, politically).


This summer I am working with Brooklyn Movement Center. BMC is a community organizing non-profit located in Bedford-Stuyvesant (Wikipedia tells me the locals refer to it as Bed-Stuy…good to know). The organization targets specific issues impacting the community and searches for concrete, structural solutions to reform institutional issues. The communities BMC serves drive the organization, making its leadership tight knit, strong, and driven.  By interning at BMC I am finding place in the community, and my hope is that interning there will give me a small space to understand activism and community organizing, especially when I am an outsider to that community.

My hashtags are the way I see myself, but others may not see me the same way. I plan on taking great strides being conscious of my position in a community I have never been to before. As an outsider I am tasked with gathering information about the neighborhood from those I work with, not personal experience;  this challenge may be the most exciting thing for me. I am not saying I am bringing something new to the table for BMC. I am not going to come in day 1 and solve issues that residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant have grappled with long before I arrived. All I can offer is my enthusiasm and desire to help while accepting that solutions and treatments to the issues may come long after me.