Rarely do I run into a project these days that gets me really excited. At some point, whether from old age or just the sheer amount of email pitches coming your way, as a blogger you sort of become callous to “great” and “wonderful” projects people keep telling you about. This book, however, immediately caught my attention. I was immediately captivated by the subject matter of this self-published, only-150-copies-in-print (and I have one of them), cultural gem!
Why? Because for the past two years its creation has been the passion project of a group of women who I now feel very close to even though we have never met in person. Their words resonated with me in a way that I cannot aptly describe in words. In ¡Todas Somos Una!, a.k.a. We Women, One Woman, I was transported to my early childhood years when my mother used to take me with her to go clean houses. I didn’t really understand why we were there. I wasn’t even old enough to go to school. But I distinctly remember wondering why my mother was cleaning the house of my brother’s classmate’s parents.
That I remember, my mother was never treated poorly in these homes. Still, when I read the words of the authors of this book – all domestic workers by the way – I couldn’t help but to wonder what my own mother must have felt to be “the help.” Obvio, es un trabajo decente and nothing to ever be ashamed of, and if it wouldn’t have been for those ladies paying my mom to clean their houses, I most definitely would not be here today, blogging this.
That’s a very powerful thing.
These women indeed are my mother. Your mothers perhaps as well. And when I was asked to help spread the word about ¡Todas Somos Una!, a.k.a. We Women, One Woman, I immediately wanted to start screaming the title and importance of this book from the rooftops of every building. One of the comments about it that was made is that this book is such a testament to women who are domestic workers and who so often are underestimated of being capable of doing anything more than holding a mop or a broom. I believe more than that, this book is a testament to the power of words, the written word, and the power of literature to touch us and challenge our beliefs.
I do hope it will change many hearts and minds about our mothers. My mother has always been a santa, domestic worker or not.
Now the good stuff… About the Book
We Women, One Woman: A View of the Lived Experience of Domestic Workers is a book that was written by the women of La Colmena (The Beehive) Domestic Workers Collective, a project of the Fe y Justicia Workers Center. The goal of La Colmena is to organize housecleaners, nannies, and caregivers, providing trainings and support to build the collective power of domestic workers in Houston. More info in www.houstonworkers.org
This chapbook is a co-publication of La Colmena and Antena Books / Libros Antena. Antena is a literary experimentation and language justice collaborative founded in 2010 by Jen Hofer and John Pluecker. Antena views their aesthetic practice as part and parcel of their language justice work. More info at www.antenaantena.org.
The process of writing this book began in 2011, when the women of La Colmena did 150 surveys with domestic workers in the Houston area. After hearing the stories of other workers, they decided they wanted to write their stories. To do so, they requested the support of writers—John Pluecker & Stalina Villarreal (longtime volunteers and supporters of the Fe y Justicia Workers Center)—to assist them with the writing process. All the texts in the book were written over the course of two years during workshops that took place between March 2012 and March 2014. You can contact the book creators for details on how to get your copy, or let me know if I can help in any way.