Queer Resilience in the Climate Crisis: Nayelli Hernandez

Nayelli Hernandez, a trans woman from Mexico City, shares her thoughts on queer people in the climate movement at the 2010 Climate march in Cancún, Mexico.

Honoring the trans & queer voices in our movement during today’s #PeoplesClimateMarch.

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As We Migrate to Venezuela: The Pre-COP and Environmental and Economic Justice in the US

Co-authored by Joaquín Sánchez & Michele Roberts, Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, USA.

Cambiamos es sistema

The US is not a homogenous society. The new majority in the US is descended from the poor indigenous migrants of the Americas, and enslaved Africans who were forced to the US by the country’s elitist capitalist economy. The US economy mines Latin America not only for natural resources, but also for the human labor needed to maintain a society structured on the endless consumption of resources. This cultural and human mining, along with the US Government’s inaction to create immigration laws based in humanity, is the root cause of the violence along the US/Mexico border, especially as more of our brothers and sisters from the South leave their families in search of economic opportunities in the US.

We migrate from the US to Venezuela because a fundamental principle in the environmental and economic justice movement is: “We Speak for Ourselves”. We come as a delegation from the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform to let our brothers and sisters in the South know we DO NOT separate human life from the environment the way they are separated by the environmentalism controlled by NGO’s and foundations. We know that the immigration crisis we experience in the US is interconnected to the climate crisis and the preventable environmental injustices caused by our country’s economic growth. And we do not accept this fatal reality imposed by our government. 

We migrate to Venezuela because the US is the number one emitter in the world, and the US is historically and currently responsible for the impacts of the US Government’s inaction to protect low-income people and people of color from the oil, chemical, and fossil fuel industries in the US.  A new report, Who’s in Danger? Race, Poverty, and Chemical Disasters, highlights the disproportionate impacts of the chemical industry in the United States on poor and low-income people of color communities in some of the most densely populated regions, such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston, TX, and some of the poorest states in the US: like New Mexico or Louisiana.  The report also highlights the ongoing efforts of the grassroots environmental and economic justice movement led by low-income people and people of color to hold local governments, industry, and the US government accountable for the poisoning of our communities. We continue to call on our government to transition the dirty energy sector to safer alternatives.

The environmental and economic justice movement in the US has relationships to the communities and progressive governments of Latin America extending back to as early as the revolutionary times and struggles for independence of countries like México and Cuba. In New Mexico for instance, a US state along the US/Mexico border, “Tierra o Muerte”, “La Tierra No Se Vende, Se Trabaja y Se Defiende”, and “La Agua es Sagrada” are guiding social principles carried on since before New Mexico was a part of the US. States like New Mexico, and other environmental justice communities in the US, play a significant role in demonstrating how the people of the US, and the struggles of third-world peoples in the US, are similar to the struggles for justice by the peoples and the progressive governments in Latin America. We can work together to counter the anti-Venezuelan and anti-Latin American rhetoric put forward by the US media and government that is detrimental to all our existence.

The capitalist economy of the US needs communities where breathing clean air and drinking clean water is not possible in order for the private jets and the bottled spring water shipped over from Europe to exist for the Kim Kardashians of the country. At the same time, poor and low-income people and people of color in the US, affiliate organizations of the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance, and the environmental and economic justice movement in the US, are catalysts for transitioning the US, one community at a time, from toxic chemicals and fossil fuels, and creating regenerative, local-economies that put mother earth and her children first.

We migrate to Venezuela to set the record straight with our neighboring governments and our brothers and sisters in the local-global struggles for justice in the South. The political interests of the US in diplomatic spaces like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change only represent the interests of the 1% of the US. We are present at the Pre-COP in Venezuela because WE, the new majority, those of us who are the grandchildren of poor indigenous migrants and enslaved Africans, SPEAK FOR OURSELVES, and stand shoulder to shoulder when we say: “Cambiamos el sistema, no el clima.” We thank the people of Venezuela for creating a political space that is otherwise suppressed by the US government, and we will continue to organize and build upon our intergenerational movement, aligning ourselves with a global grassroots movement that protects mother earth through environmental and economic justice, for all.

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Haiku to Law School No. 1

First year is over.
Corporate Freedom is Racist.
Slavery is Real.

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Immigration Industrial Complex

Our social movements in the United States have been gentrified and commodified. European-America has put a monetary and political price-tag on our immigrant communities. They want our labor, they want our taxes, they want our issues, they want our causes. They want our water, they want our land. They ultimately want our voices. We know our ancestors spoke so that we could speak for ourselves. Our familias. Our stories. Our values. Our tradiciones. Our rezos. Our secretos.

In the spirit of Malcolm X, “The [Hispanic] revolution is controlled by foxy white liberals, by the Government itself. The [Indigenous] revolution is controlled only by [Creator].”

Look inward and backward, gente. Who’s shoulders’ do you stand on? Yes to participating in the “democracy” of the United States, but our freedom, our peoples’ lived (undocumented) history, our rights as indigenous migrant people of America, and our dreams should not be compromised.

¡él es dios!

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Un Sueño de los Cuatro Vientos

Before the GOP runs with a Hispanic presidential candidate in 2016, I have a message to share with you. This message came to me after months of organizing democratic voters in Nuevo México, in particular after 10 hours of canvassing in Albuquerque the night before we re-elected President Obama in 2012.

Los cuatro vientos del méxico antiguo brought to me a dream.


Albuquerque, NM– The National Council of Doctoras y Maestras is proud to announce their candidate for the 2028 US Presidential Election. Her name will be Guadalupe. Presidenta Guadalupe will run on a platform of women’s rights, the rights of mother earth, the rights of indigenous peoples, and on principles of love and harmony amongst all.  Her candidacy is no coincidence, rather, a manifestation of hundreds of years of cultural conservation, cultural resistance, and 16 years (2012-2028) of political evolution through the Hijas de Guadalupe political campaign.[…]

As we move forward to a second presidential term for President Barack Obama, we are presented with an opportunity to continue shifting the balance of power; we are presented with four more years to continue imagining new possibilities. Both Democratic and Republican parties are aware of the power of our raza’s vote. As raza we must remember the sacrifices of this election made by our gente on the frontlines of the current border and economic warfare. How will we use our influence to move forward? How will we respond politically when the Republicans fight back in 2014 when Gov. Susana Martinez is up for re-election? In 2016 when they handpick the perfect Hispanic for their presidential nomination? Is now the time to liberate the politics of our raza from this two-party system and exercise una nueva forma, una nueva alianza entre los pueblos migratorios, los pueblos indigenas, y con nuestras hermanas y hermanos del sur? Is now the time when one of our own, una hija nuestra, guided by the knowledge and wisdom of our matriarchal elders, positions herself to become the first Latina Presidenta de los estados unidos de america del norte?

Her name will be Guadalupe says the dream to me.

Yes, Democrats win in 2012. Our President Obama won by a very small margin that was largely composed of our gentes vote. We know there are more of us. In order for Presidenta Guadalupe to win, every single person in every community, rural or urban, will need to keep our eyes on the prize: a country, a government, a people, a way of living, that is founded on the highest forms of respect for women, cultures, and our mother earth.

Since childhood, my family has taught me to always remember my humble beginnings. In the spirit of mi familia, I emerge from this election stronger, affirmed, and with deeper humility. I emerge inspired, more creative, and with more vision. Blessed by comadritas y compadritos I have worked with along the way, I feel more rooted for the years to come and prepared for the road ahead. Gracias por la unidad.

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Canto del Corazón Joto

Como jotos, our acts of Love are actos con riesgo, acts with risk. Early on we learn that if we surrender to our corazones, we surrender to the risk of violencia y la destruccion de nuestros seres. Many of our brothers and sisters before us have lost their lives on the frontlines of the apocalypse called heterosexism and partriarchy. Those of us who survive are the healers of our deepest wound.

I write to heal. To honor the way our joto Love disarms, mustache to mustache, one beso at a time.

I write because my heart sings a joto Love song. Un canto of our curanderismo dwelling in our corazones. Nuestra capacidad de amar contra politicas, against the waves of violent fathers who have forgotten who they are some where between now and the first time they themselves felt powerless, as they migrated to this country or struggled to survive back home. Our ability to Love with the blessings of our madrecita’s, the keepers of our raíces, hidden in the depths of their almas. They feed us, their joto children, with the darks of their ojos, whispers of truth when they hold our autonomous bodies in a tight embrace: “mijo, te adoro tal y como eres.”

I write a joto Love song, un canto, to call home our elders, and our children, who left this world before they could leave us and future generations with the codex to describe their gifts of survival, their courage to Love, themselves and their lovers. To honor their journeys, even when they are filled with abusos y adicciones, or the absence of the knowledge we have today to protect our sacred bodies from the disease invented in partriarchy’s imagination, and those of us who live to tell the story.

I write this joto Love song because the time has come to open the gates to the joto pueblo called our corazón. El mundo está cambiando definitivamente. Patriarchal, heterosexist, greed driven value systems are destroying our madrecita tierra, tragando our hermanas y hermanos, mothers and fathers, vivos.

The time is now to Love al estilo joto. Como los “sin verguenzas” that our abuelas have called us. Without shame. Our Love is needed. In the face of our wounded sexual predators and abusers. In the face of our immigration captors who enslave our hombres, our warriors, and our mujeres, nuestras guerreras. Our Love, like our people, knows no borders. I write this joto Love song because we are born free.

Our Love is needed. Bold, courageous, transgressive and transcendent Love. Our joto Love is needed. Our corazones. Our pueblos. Nuestras ceremonias. Where we birth the prophecies and prayers of our ancestros.

Vente, jota. Vamos bajo el sol a sembrar el mundo y la tierra con nuestras semillitas de amor.

Always on the shoulders of those before me,


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“My Name is Nico and I am UndocuQueer.”

Some folks call them Dreamers. I call them Prophets. They were born to teach us a major lesson. And that lesson is LOVE. In the face of extreme xenophobia, racism and homophobia, we must LOVE. “Undocumented & Unafraid, Queer & Unashamed.” We must LOVE. Talk to any one of the Dream Walkers- Nico, Alex, Raymi, Jose, Lucas and Jonatan- and you will understand the intersections of hate they and their families have endured. You will also experience the bountiful LOVE and HOPE they have cultivated from their individual journeys leading up to this point and that they will cultivate together for the next 8 months as they walk from California to Washington, DC, meeting with young people and touching the hearts of more than 250 communities in 10 states.

In San Francisco and Oakland, hicimos preparaciones para abrir el camino de los caminantes soñadoras con la palabra. Todos venimos de una palabra. The word. Our truth. Our inheritance. So we prayed. We sweat. We danced. We ate good food. We celebrated life, mourned death, and we remembered. And on Saturday, March 10, 2012, on the eve of the Mexica New Year, we blessed the Dream Walkers in the Secret Garden of La Misión and sent them off on their journey to the West. With them they carry a staff of prayers and blessings from el pueblo, to collect prayers and blessings from the pueblos they will walk through.

Last night Caracol de Amor y Milagros met up with las comadres Nico y Alex and the rest of the Dream Walkers at their RV in the parking lot of a Lutheran church somewhere just outside of Sacramento. Northern California is being blessed with rain after a dry winter on this first week of the Dream Walk. Mother Earth’s way of reminding us we are her children, a good reminder even within our movimiento. The Walkers have embraced the elements, creating ramos made from plantas they are encountering along the way to bless one another with as gifts, surrendering to the rain’s cold wetness to learn new ways to care for one another. Today I honor the Dream Walkers, en especial mi hermana de la alma jota Nico Gonzalez.

As I honor him,  I share with you Nico’s palabra, a glimpse into el mundo zurdo que tod@s estamos creando:

“Inspiration” March 10-15, 2012

Today we walked in the rain; it has been five days since this journey began in the Bay area. Walking through different cities, mountains and open spaces that allow us to reflect on why we are in this struggle and what is to come in the coming months. Our feet carry us through these communities allowing us to share our stories and the stories of those whom we have encountered. My mother is and always will be my motivation because she fought for years to live for her family. Working at the factory, putting a plate of food on our table and fighting for her life that she dedicated to giving her children a future she only dreamed of.

This Monday, two years after she passed away, muralist, teacher, activist and mentor to a lot of youth in my community of Pilsen in Chicago, Francisco G. Mendoza, passed away after fighting cancer for years. He was my mentor who taught me to paint my realities while following my dreams. He now rests in peace leaving a legacy behind with murals and mosaics that cover walls around the neighborhood. I remember our encounters at the Jumping Bean Café where he always asked “Nico are you still painting? Are you still in school? How’s your mom?” Those conversations are fresh to me just like his sense of humor, youthful and full of life.

I follow my dreams because of mentors like him who never gave up on kids like me. I push myself because the inspiration they gave me is like fuel to this old soul looking to not only create change within but to create this much needed dialogue in our communities.

On my way from court in Alabama, as I was trying to get mentally prepared for this 3,000 mile walk a spark of inspiration went off thousands of miles above the ground so I began writing:

My name is Nico: I’m Undocumented and Unafraid, Queer and Unashamed. 2 years ago in Chicago, a group of 8 individuals tired of living in the shadows declared their status in front of a crowd just like this; I was one of the 8. From that point on I knew I was not going to sit back and wait for someone to decide my future. The immigrant youth movement has been growing day by day, going beyond lobbying out legislators, taking it to the streets and doing actions of civil disobediences where we put our lives in the forefront knowing that this is an escalated call for us to demand what we deserve today; Fighting anti-immigrant legislations that hurt our mothers, our fathers, our brothers and sisters, our children, our communities in this country: our country. This country we call home that has seen us grow. Today is The National Coming Out of the Shadows Days and all around the U.S.A. courageous youth will be stepping out of the shadows of fear and ignorance, breaking those chains of oppression. Two years ago the strongest mujer I have ever met and the woman that gave me the strength to fight for who I deserve, passed away from lung cancer. That mujer was my mother. Mi madre.

Every day of her life she dedicated her time to her children and husband. From going to work at a plastic factory, making dinner, to fighting cancer every day to live just one more day of her life. The sacrifice she made, leaving everything behind… her family, my family. Not only for a better education, but to be able to put a plate of food on our table. That sacrifice was to come to this country. She is buried in the land of freedoms where she is considered a criminal according to those who don’t remember the history of those native to this country.

Being queer has made me see the necessity to educate our communities, that in order to want acceptance, we must give acceptance; that words like “faggot” or “maricon”, are just as hurtful as “Illegal alien.” Today I begin a beautiful journey with mi hombre, my partner by my side and this courageous team of young people tired of this broken and unjust immigration system that continues interrupting our everyday lives and plaguing our people, nuestra gente!

We are here standing up not only for ourselves, but walking almost 3,000 miles fighting for the DREAM Act as a first step to legalizing all of our people because for a very long time we have helped build this economy.

But just as we stand here sharing our stories and speaking out, there are thousands of our paisanos in detention centers losing hopes for a better life, detained so that corporations can profit from us.

This very moment, a father or mother is being deported, and their kids? Well, they will be put in an unstable environment known as foster care. Right now there are over 5,000 kids suffering and missing their parents just in the state of Alabama, where anti-immigrant legislations continue breaking down our communities.

Yesterday I went to a rally outside of the Montgomery State House where civil rights activist and politicians came together to celebrate the 47th anniversary of the walk to Montgomery. But yesterday they did something beautiful; they came together with the immigrant community in solidarity with their fight in the state!

One day after the anniversary of that historical walk, our campaign, The Campaign for an American DREAM, will begin to make its own history. This is your campaign. Let’s make this a year of collaboration; because together we have the power and that is something no one can take away from us.

Recently I had the honor to listening to a very wise mujer, Grace Lee Boggs. “These are the times to grow our souls. Each of us is called upon to embrace the conviction that despite the powers and principalities bent onto modifying all our humans’ relationships, we have the power within us to create the world anew.”

My name is Nico and I am UndocuQueer.


Below are links to the media coverage of the launch of the Dream Walk.

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