MALCS is an organization that supports Chicanas, Latinas, Native American and Indigenous women in higher education and community leadership.
MALCS is an organization that initiates dialogue amongst our members and creates exchanges with other social activist organizations drawing on our histories as well as emerging cultural thought and practice in order to address new global challenges.
Getting to Our Mission and Vision: Confronting Challenges to Mujeres
To evaluate where MALCS is, as an organization, we reflected on its role in social action, the purpose of our work and how it is linked to the movement for the transformation of our society.
In past assessments, we have considered the effect of Chicana feminisms on the field of Chicano studies. MALCS has been a vehicle for bridging who we are and what we do—even in contentious times. Thus, MALCS has been raising new questions, challenging assumptions, and exploring knowledges, introducing new ways of thinking about issues that confront our communities.
In the 1980s Mujeres within NACCS addressed that it was not only an issue of inclusion. Questions of patriarchy, patterns, behaviors, and what was becoming custom and tradition had to be challenged and we needed to develop oppositional practices of Chicana and Chicano research. We needed a new language that spoke to the experiences of La Mujer.
MALCS played a unique role in the process of transforming the study of our communities by becoming a central place for mujeres to explore and work out ideas; this brought to the fore the relations of our work to social change; therefore, re-constituting the radical and transformative to explore “oppositional possibility.”
More recently, we developed a two-pronged response to the passage of SB 1070 in Arizona: we boycotted the state and found ways of supporting the mujeres that were hosting the institute there. The response involved our membership in the decision-making process in a way it had never been done before.
What was illustrated is that the membership has a commitment to the MALCS vision. Members were thoroughly involved in a series of tasks that included on-line discussions, surveys, individual e-mails forwarded to the board and other members, as well as discussion groups. Such modes of communication proved that the organization moved forward in the incorporation of various voices and we formed a virtual community. In addition this demonstrated a need for an evaluation and assessment of the organization.
Therefore, the executive board proceeded to compile and evaluate the information exchanged in order to “do work that matters.” There were passionate and powerful voices. We also recognized that there were some deafening silences. To be an organization that responds in social action we considered all perspectives coming from its members. However, a democratic process had to prevail in order to move through this challenging situation.
Some of the representative points of discussion were:
- Fear of going to Arizona and being arrested due to racial profiling.
- That our bodies needed to be on the line in Arizona.
- Unconditional support to the mujeres hosting the institute.
- Boycotting Arizona altogether.
- Finding other sites for the Institute.
MALCS responded by implementing a survey in order to incorporate as many voices as possible. Once the results were considered, the decision was a two-pronged approach: to cancel our national summer institute (with a state conference held by the mujeres there) and to support the activism against SB1070 and other discriminatory legislation.
In the end, we were presented with the opportunity to assess our organization in order to expand our modes of communication through democratic participation. The last assessment of MALCS occurred two decades ago and therefore this vision statement is to create a culture of evaluation and participation to address how we work as a national organization in the 21st century.
Working Together: Community Past, Present and Future
As we consider our mission and vision, it must be in relationship to strategy—how we speak to, approach, and set up our actions. There are a number of things we can do to push our agenda forward.
Creating a Virtual Community
Currently, our two forms of community making are the journal and the Summer Institute. We must continue to expand our virtual community by utilizing the social networks: Facebook, the MALCS Blog, and our website. This is part and parcel of our voices entering the public sphere as we engage in public discourse.
We agreed that we must utilize the MALCS website more thoroughly and consistently so that:
- members can post announcements,
- the organization can post letters immediately,
- everyone can respond on the website, and
- we can continue communicating through the blog as well as create other related blogs.
Building Strategic Relationships
MALCS must consider the types of strategic relationships we need to set up with other women’s organizations so that we can appeal to them to join together in a press conference or other actions. Our collaboration in 2011 with the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa (SSGA) is an example of such action. As well, working with the Chicana/Latina Foundation has enabled us to establish ourselves financially. In addition, MALCS joined other professional associations to hold a national press conference regarding the Arizona boycott.
Continuing to Develop our Membership Base
We must think about the fact that we are a volunteer organization and all of us work for “la causa” – with love, through joy and through hardships. From the special gathering, it was agreed that MALCS needed more volunteers in order to address our infrastructure. Therefore, we created new committees such as:
- the archive committee: to find documents on previous organization procedures and operation handbooks, and
- the nominations committee: to develop a process, to contact and vet the nominees.
However, we must continue to examine our potential as an organization. This must be a dual partnership where our membership takes up tasks to support the effort of MALCS and the Executive Committee recognizes and accommodates the different skills and schedules of our membership. This creates then a culture and an organization of volunteers.
As a result of our experiences, conversations, collaborations and challenges, we rededicate ourselves to initiating productive dialogue amongst our members and creating relationships with other social activist organizations to address the new global challenges that Chicanas, Latinas, Native American and Indigenous women face.