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  • An Interview with Rocío Muñoz Flores*
  • Charles Henry Rowell, Marcus D. Jones, and Mónica Carrillo

Would you describe the work that you do and how you came gradually toward that work?

Muñoz Flores:

I think that a lot of things happened by chance. I was very young, about eighteen, nineteen years old, and I approached, in a very timely manner, a group to offer some sort of support. It was an organization that was already working on the issue of the Afro-descendant population. My first impression was that how was it that people rallied to work on behalf of blacks. It seemed a very strange thing that didn't make a lot of sense. Nevertheless, curiosity got the better of me and I kept observing what was happening, what it was about, and by the time I realized it I was already involved in an organization taking on the issue of rights, taking on activities, making a commitment, trying to understand myself again as an Afro-descendant woman who had a whole cultural inheritance, a whole historical experience that was necessary to recover and strengthen.

I still don't understand completely how is it that life placed me in this situation, because maybe if I hadn't been asked by someone to support the organization, I never would have been in this world. But life placed me in this opportunity, and it was from there on that I integrated myself quite quickly. This process didn't even take a month. Within days I was already inside this organization working, supporting, facilitating, and I started to understand that, in effect, there was a personal commitment that I had to assume, a necessity to recover the history, to recover the identity, to strengthen ourselves. So from there I began my activism in Afro-descendant causes. My battle flag was always the recovery of identity, the fight against racism, the fight against all forms of discrimination. But along the way I was gathering other types of demands and necessities, and my efforts and my activities were also oriented toward the subject of Afro-descendant women. I started to include in fights, in speeches, the subject of gender, of racism and sexism as key axes on which to begin work. From that point on I've been on a path that has taken me on various routes that in particular moments forced me to adhere to a black feminism that questions feminism and that also allows for the tools for a new political structure for the demands of Afro-descendant women. That has been more or less the beginning, and obviously with that process there have been many battles. We have gone through many things that have led me to have certain types of representations, take certain types of actions. These things [End Page 365] in life put you in a leadership role in front of other Afro-descendant women. I'm one of the few Afro-feminists in this country who reclaim the subject of gender, who reclaim the fight against racism and sexism in a more political and public manner.

My first experiences in this environment were that I had to accompany some girls who were already active so they could do a workshop. We went to do the workshop, and out of sheer mischief, at a certain point they grabbed me and said, "Well, it's your turn to do the workshop." And they left. They left me alone with forty Afro-descendant men and women and I didn't have a clue what to tell them. I thought, "Dear God, now what?" We began to work with them, and when I thought about it I realized it had been very easy to relate to the people. I believe from that point forward I began to discover that I could have the ability to communicate with people without meeting much resistance. One of the elements that I incorporated as part of my activism was to gain training. That is to say, I believed I could have good tools in order to approach another group of black men and women who had never gone through the...


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pp. 365-588
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