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The Feministing Five: Marisa Franco

This week we spoke to Marisa Franco, immigration activist and founder of the Mijente, a new political home for Latinx and Chicanx activists and organizers that will combine online networks and on-the-ground initiatives.

In December, Mijente kicked off in an-person conference in Chicago that addressed how race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class are essential components in Latinx organizing. The organization is still in its early stages and we are excited to see how their multifaceted approach will change the way Latinxs engage with in national and local policy.

Originally from Arizona, Marisa started organizing for immigrant and Latinx rights back in high school. She has helped lead the #Not1MoreCampaign, which builds collaboration between individuals, organizations, artists, and allies to expose, confront, and overcome unjust immigration laws.

Marisa has been a fantastic force in her work for justice, and we are so grateful that she was able to speak with us today.

And now, without further ado, the Feministing Five with Marisa Franco!

Suzanna Bobadilla: You’re a well-recognized and respected leader within immigrant justice and Latinx communities. How would you describe your leaderships style and do you see feminism playing a part in it?

Marisa Franco: Absolutely feminism has played a role. One major focus in my work has been to find and build with, as we call them, the “team of the willing,” those who are willing to act, to confront and challenge the status quo in order to move us forward. Often that grouping includes those of us who have been excluded, who have been othered. Feminism, particularly from the contributions of lesbian and queer women, brings to light the ways in which we are taught to hate ourselves and each other. Feminism politicizes us to understand we have the power to change that.

SB: You’ve recently co-founded Mijente, a new political home for Latinx and Chicanx organizing. What inspired you to launch this platform and what are your hopes for it?

MF: We believe that in our community there are many Latinx leaders who want to move beyond partisan politics and who seek to be part of a movement that strives for racial, gender and economic – for all of us. At our founding convening in Chicago this last December, I was blown away by the energy and desire of the group that came together. We can’t afford to sit out this moment. And so far, its very clear there are many who aren’t. Our hope is to create a political home that supports emerging Latinx change-makers and wage advocacy campaigns that build power and achieve culture and policy change. Specifically we will continue to help lead the #Not1More Deportation campaign and will look to support efforts to transform the criminal justice system. Also, we plan to organize meet ups in cities across the country that bring together Latinx people advancing a politic that is not just pro-Latinx but also pro-LGBTQ, pro-planet, pro-Black, pro-poor, pro-immigrant, pro-woman.


You know how sometimes you can put ‘it’s complicated’ as your relationship status? That’s a bit of how it is with the word Latina/o. Latinx peoeple span a wide diaspora of people across geography, race and ethnicity, with such a sordid but also rich history. To then have an organization that seeks to hold this complexity, well…its complicated. But the fear of failure (or drama) was less than the threat of the Latinx community not contributing to transformative change in this country. Our growing population does not guarantee that. What’s required is more from us, not simply more of us.

SB: January was full of ICE raids carried out against families who are fleeing violence in their own homes. It was also recently announced that Supreme Court is preparing to take a case about immigration policy. What can our readers do to help strive for immigration justice?

MF: Don’t fall into the trap. We are constantly being told to be afraid. We are told that there is not enough to go around. And that we have to take what we can get. The idea that some of us should have while the rest of us should not is maintained by our complicity. If you have an opportunity to support and stand with communities who are being targeted, whether because of their race, religion, immigration status or otherwise – please do.

SB: Who are your heroes?

MF: My heroes are the underdogs, the people who face significant barriers whether its because of what that person has to do to survive economically, to care for their loved ones, or because being out exposes them to police or deportation agents. It’s that underdog, who against all odds, summons the courage and the time to keep showing up to fight for something better.

SB: Imagine that you are doing to a desert island. You get to bring with you one food, one drink, and one feminist. What do you bring?

MF: Street tacos, some horchata..and, I think I’d want to bring Carol from The Walking Dead. We’d be well fed and survive.

Images provided by Marisa Franco. 

San Francisco, CA

Suzanna Bobadilla is a writer, activist, and digital strategist. According to legend, she first publicly proclaimed that she was a feminist at the age of nine in her basketball teammate's mini-van. Things have obviously since escalated. After graduating from Harvard in 2013, she became a founding member of Know Your IX's ED ACT NOW. She is curious about the ways feminists continue to use technology to create social change and now lives in San Francisco. She believes that she has the sweetest gig around – asking bad-ass feminists thoughtful questions for the publication that has taught her so much. Her views, bad jokes and all, are her own. For those wondering, if she was stranded on a desert island and had to bring one food, one drink, and one feminist, she would bring chicken mole, a margarita, and her momma.

Suzanna Bobadilla is a writer, activist, and digital strategist.

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