Welcome back! This week, we head west to New Mexico, where feminist/ runner/ educator/ scholar/ overall bad ass Myrriah Gómez is! No stranger to the natural fluidity of life and change, Myrriah recognizes the importance of finding yourself and fostering everlasting self-love. She helped organize a fundraiser in AlbuRquerque last year. Check her out below!
Third Woman Press Collective (TWPC): Hey there, Myrriah! We’re happy to have the chance to chat with you! Thanks for taking time aside for us. Where are you geographically located?
Myrriah Gomez (MG): I’m honored to be here with you all! I was born and raised in El Rancho, New Mexico, in the Pojoaque Valley, and that is still very much my location. I make the hour and a half drive up north as much as possible, most recently to help my dad with la cosecha. Right now I live in AlbuRquerque, New Mexico. Burque and I have this weird relationship. I lived here for a year in 2003, and then left. I came back in 2007 for two years, and then left. I came back in 2011, and now I can’t leave. But it’s good to me, so I stay.
TWPC: We know that movers and shakers like yourself transition through so many phases, and we’re glad to know you’re finding yourself at home in Albuquerque! What keeps you busy … when you’re not moving?
MG: This semester I’m teaching six classes. I teach Chicana and Chicano Studies courses and English, and I love every bit of it. I’m also working on a book and trying to find a full-time teaching position, and sometimes it seems like neither one is going to happen! [Laughter] I’m also a marathon runner, and I spend a lot of my alone time running. I also volunteer with a grassroots program here in AlbuRquerque called Running Girls 505. It’s a program designed to teach young girls (ages 9-14 years) the importance of wellness, not just running and exercise, but self-esteem and self-love. We just started our new season on September 18th. It’s mostly girls of color, and it’s a program that’s become a priority in my life over the last year. One time decolonial scholar-activist Laura E. Pérez told me, “Taking care of yourself is the first decolonial act.” That phrase has become my daily mantra, and I want to convey that message to young women.
TWPC: That’s awesome! Laura has been a HUGE supporter of our work at TWP. It seems she’s impacting a lot of Chicanitas’ lives. We’re stoked to hear that you’re able to integrate your passions so beautifully and healthily! What influenced your decision to help fundraise for Third Woman Press?
MG: I hung around San Antonio for three years for graduate school. I met two members of the Collective, Sara and Brenda, while living in San Anto. When I found out that Sara was starting TWP back up, I was surprised and excited. Why hadn’t anyone thought of that before!? But probably they had, and I think a lot of special things in the universe had to align to make this possible. I told Sara that I wanted to help in some way, and since Brenda had moved to Burque, I knew that we could put something together.
TWPC: And that’s how Sara has described this whole revitalization, muxer— as some sort of cosmic alignment. It definitely feels like the universe has spoken, and we are listening! What was your favorite detail, performance, interaction, etc., from the fundraiser you organized?
MG: We had six amazing writers read their work at the event—Akusua Akoto, Stephanie Barton, Priscilla Candelaria, Jessica Helen López, Beata Tsosie-Peña, and Tanaya Winder. Some of them are well-recognized authors, and some of them are just starting out. There was another event going on in the adjacent room, and it was really echoing into our space. I was getting really nervous because there was nothing that I could do about the noise levels. Then, Priscilla Candelaria took the stage and belted “Malagueeeeeeña salerosa,” the first lines of one of her poems and a song that takes me back to my childhood. I had to put myself back in the moment and look around at the people who had come to support TWP.
TWPC: That sounds like it was an awesome experience! So intimate. Our voices know no noise boundaries! They carry through walls. Ah, the power of writing, reading, and listening to work that can resonate with our communities. Here’s another question we like to ask our fundraising leaders: Is there any specific area, field, or place that you feel really needs a feminist intervention right now?
MG: Professional sports, not just men’s sports but women’s sports, too. A lot of people have been talking about domestic violence recently because of the Ray Rice case in the NFL. Less people talked about Hope Solo, the women’s professional soccer player who was arrested on domestic violence charges this summer. Granted, they’re two very different cases (situations), but they nonetheless present instances of domestic violence where men and women are portrayed as the abusers and victims
I think that the U.S. public lacks the language and knowledge for discussing domestic violence, and that is apparent based on what we are hearing in the mainstream media right now. But this isn’t new! We can go down the list of athletes who have made headlines for domestic violence and/or rape allegations. There are people who say that we pay too much attention to sports, whether college or professional, but sports are one arena where global citizens can come together and find similarities. Sports provide a lot of potential for serving as a catalyst for social action and social change. This is what many young people are exposed to on a daily basis, and we need an intervention. Not just a women’s intervention but also a feminist intervention.
TWPC: We definitely agree with that, Myrriah. That’s why we are so excited to hear about the Running Girls 505 program in your community; it’s an awesome way of setting up the youth in your area towards knowing themselves and their relationships with others in a way that’s beneficial for understanding and growth! And it sounds like an awesome place to be during those tricky adolescent years. Win-win. So, what do you like to do for fun?
MG: Mostly, I run. I also like to eat. A lot. I enjoy spending time in the mountains and with my family.
TWPC: Great! Are there any activities you do specifically to recharge after doing community organizing?
MG: Hosting this event was a huge learning experience for me for a variety of reasons. There was a day when I was so overwhelmed by the local politics that we came up against while planning the event that I couldn’t get out of bed. I recharge by surrounding myself with people who provide love and understanding in my life. Only with their love and support can I face all the hate and anguish that’s still out there.
TWPC: Community work is hard work, so we can’t thank you enough, Myrriah! We appreciate so much all of the work and support you’ve given. Since you helped TWP raise money, what is one thing that excited you about the revitalization or what would you like to see TWP do overall?
MG: I can’t wait to see the first, er, NEW, book!
TWPC: Neither can we! We had so many submissions to the inaugural anthology that it’s taking the editors a little while longer than expected. (So, to those of you who contributed a submission, thanks for your patience!) Still, we are very excited to be publishing new works! And it’s all because of the wonderful and amazing people who are helping us along the way— like you! Thanks again, Myrriah.
Many more thanks to Myrriah Gomez for her hard work and love! You can find her here for more information on her recent happenings! Rock on! Make sure to keep the love going by liking and sharing, and stay tuned for next week’s Feminist Fistbump!