Reflection and Report Back from Albuquerque, New Mexico
Margaret E. Montoya Writing & Wellness Retreat 2022
From June 15 to June 17, I shared space with critical scholars dedicated to justice work. Thanks to all who donated to make this happen. Though I’m just $30.00 from my goal, if you are impelled to donate, please send your money to intersectional abortion providers like SisterSong, ProFamilias, or Indigenous Women Rising.
We travelled to the Partnership for Community Action’s new home: the Social Enterprise Center in Albuquerque’s South Valley, which creates as liberating a space as you can imagine among nonprofits. It’s the type of forum you envision, with floor to ceiling windows and a sustainable footprint. The Center has rooms for childcare, a book library, video conferences, large & small meetings, while housing several local nonprofits run by community-members.
I’d like to share what I learned in this space. For instance, Professor Montoya centers family in her work. Who else to wear your healing than the people you bring into this world? In attendance were sisters, daughters, nephews. Here’s Profe’s SSRN to access her written work — though these don’t capture her influence outside the classroom. I remember in Belinda Hall, we’d listen to her share institutional memories of resistance. Margaret Montoya is an elder; this is precisely why the scholars of LatCrit, preserve this space for CRT’s future. I situate myself inside that project.
About half of us were on Zoom while the rest attended the Social Enterprise Center in person. Joining us were clinical instructors, established researchers, black letter law professors, medical professionals, artists, recent grads, and more than one state official. We represented spaces from San Diego to D.C. and from Colorado to Puerto Rico.
People shared projects from every step in the creative process. I won’t discuss these in detail, as they remain works in progress. However, they each impacted me. Here are some broad strokes from those which resonated the most:
- Professors Francisco Valdes, Jennifer Hill, and Steven Bender published the Critical Justice casebook after 11 years of work. The book gathers social movements and the legacy of critical race theory — I am eager to participate in the advancement of their project by disseminating these lessons among activist youth.
- There’s a lot of literature coming out on the rights and the racially-inflected experiences of incarcerated people during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will go down like our Holodomor.
- Reparations are at the root of so many conversations, which is necessary for the paradigm shift in our discussions of history and justice.
- I learned novel ways of considering: (1) power in the classroom; (2) legal frameworks for accountability in international law; and (3) the multiple overlaps and intersections of racism and public health.
- Finally, Professor Montoya shared an insight into her current effort: dismantling institutional racism in reproductive healthcare through a national provider network and collective. With the most recent and virulent attack on abortion rights in mind, please know that reproductive justice and bodily autonomy are the past, present, and future of radical love and dismantling the patriarchy.
For my own professional development, I shared my long-form article on Disney’s Encanto. It was helpful to sit with the questions I must ask myself on this journey, especially since I’ve once again been thinking about publication.
I am supremely satisfied to have shared in a racially and culturally inflected space, surrounded by people aware of the nefarious natures of white supremacy. I found precisely what I sought out: solidarity in creating our alternatives. Our vision centers family, decolonization, children; gender fluidity — the kitchen, the roundtable; vulnerability and intimacy.
I am supremely satisfied to have witnessed and contributed. The journey feels lonely, but you are not alone. It feels long and arduous– but it is brief compared to the ancestral.
Onward; Pa’lante. There is freedom work to do.
Marco Bello blogs on the intersection of popular culture and critical race theory. A radical historian and legal scholar, he ties current events to legacies of colonialism and resistance.