Gender Intersectionality in the Young Lords Party: Reconstructing Gender Roles and Radicalizing Traditional Beliefs Within the Movement by Maelvi Nuñez)

STANDARDS:

11.11   Students analyze the major social problems and domestic policy issues in contemporary American society.

3. Describe the changing roles of women in society as reflected in the entry of more women into the labor force and the changing family structure.

Key Ideas and Details

1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources,connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

2. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

3. Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

7. Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve ha problem.

8. Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.

9. Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

Craft and Structure

6. Evaluate author’s’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.

OVERVIEW:

Students will be able to draw connections between culturally and socially applied gender roles influenced by the machismo behaviour found in the Puerto Rican culture and racial societal oppression and how these led to an intersectional revolution within the Young Lords Party.

FRAMEWORK:

Students will analyze primary sources and a variety of secondary sources to draw a broad understanding of the introduction of the intersectionality of women into the Young Lords Party. Students will discuss gender roles within the Puerto Rican community and how these were reconstructed through the inclusion of women as equal members of the Young Lords Party. They will explore the masculinity that existed within the Young Lords Party through racial oppression to try to understand the machismo behaviour found among men in the Puerto Rican culture; thus, dismantling the influence racial oppression had on the mistreatment of women. Ideally, the students will be able to uncover any correlation between the conformity found among women to the machismo in their culture and their oppressed identity. Altogether, the lesson will enable the students to understand how the introduction of intersectionality in the Young Lords Party contributed to the formation of new unconventional reasoning, particularly about women.   

ESSENTIAL UNDERSTANDING:

Students will analyze how generations of machismo in the Puerto Rican communities and racial oppression against Puerto Rican women diminished as the Young Lords Party allowed for the breakdown of traditional gender roles by emphasizing the equal representation and support found among both genders in the Party.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS:

  • Who were the Young Lords?
  • Who is Iris Morales? Denise Oliver?
  • Why did women want change in the organization?
  • In what ways did women successfully construct a feminist platform within the Young Lords Party?
  • What did machismo look like within the Puerto Rican culture?
  • What types of challenges did the women face as they fought to be part of the Young Lords as equal members?
  • How was the idea of “revolutionary machismo” able to shift traditional gender roles into more dynamic relationships between men and women?  
  • Why was the women’s caucus formed and in what ways did it serve as a vehicle for the feminist movement within the Young Lords?   

GLOSSARY:

  • Intersectionality: different aspects of social and political discrimination that overlap with the experiences of marginalized groups, especially women.
  • Machismo: behaviour expressed with aggressive masculine pride
  • Passivism: being passive
  • Feminism: advocating for women’s rights in terms of equality among sexes
  • Revolutionary: causing or bringing about a major change
  • Third World: phrase frequently used to describe a developing nation

INTRODUCTION:

The formation of the Young Lords Party was led by a group of mostly Puerto Rican first-generation students to fight for neighborhood empowerment the and self-determination of Puerto Ricans, Latinx, and colonized “Third World” people.1 At the same time the Young Lords were trying to make a name for themselves as a revolutionary nationalist and socialist, “serve the people” organization, they were also faced with the opposition of hyper-masculinity in the party by fellow Young Lords women. Generations of existing machismo behaviour among men of color, particularly toward women of color, created a unity between women of color who wanted to deconstruct gender roles within their culture and society.2

Women were involved in the movement from the start with the hopes to fight racism and poverty, end gender discrimination, and free Puerto Rico. Through their involvement they became radicalized embracing “the revolution within the revolution.” However, fighting against gender discrimination and inequality within a male-dominated organization introduced them to a series of challenges. During this period of time, “racist and sexist barriers dominated all facets of society” oppressing women into traditional wife, homemaker, mother, etc, gender roles. Even with the hardships of fighting against masculinity within their communities and the party, they became fighters, leaders, and political thinkers determined to make a change. Their desire to break free from their cultural and societal oppression led to the introduction of intersectionality in the Young Lords Party. The Young Lords women created a caucus, which they used as a vehicle to organize and demand recognition as feminists. Within this feminist movement in the Young Lords Party, women like Iris Morales and Denise Oliver were able to raise to higher rankings within the movement and desensitize the hyper-masculinity in the organization.3

Furthermore, their movement was part of a larger movement: the rise of third wave feminism during the 60s and 70s. This wave highlighted the need for feminists not only to address external forms of oppression, but also to examine forms of oppression and discrimination that they themselves had internalized. It saw women’s lives as intersectional, demonstrating how race, ethnicity, class, religion, gender, and nationality were all significant factors when discussing feminism.4

MATERIALS:

ACTIVITES:

Day 1:

  • Hand out Palante: Young Lords Party and ask students to read the first section of the document, History of The Young Lords, up to the second section, Revolution Within a Revolution, for the first 10-15 minutes of class
  • After the students have finished reading ask the students what they learned about the Young Lords Party from the document and allow them to discuss with a classmate sitting near them
  • Following individual discussions open up the discussion to the whole class to allow students to elaborate on each others prior and newly acquired knowledge and to ask any questions that you can clarify
  • After concluding the discussion play a short video on The Young Lords to conclude the activity
  • For homework students will read the second section of the document, Revolution Within a Revolution, and write 3-4 analytical questions on the reading to be discussed during  tomorrow’s Socratic Seminar

Day 2:

  • Students will spend the majority of class discussing their questions on the document from the previous class’s homework assignment in a Socratic Seminar
  • Towards the end of the class, hand out Young Women Find a Place in High Command of Young Lords for homework students will write a one-page response focusing on the importance of the lesson in the document

Day 3:

  • Students will watch Fighting Much More Than Poverty: The Young Lords’ View of Oppression during the first 10 minutes of class
  • Then ask the students to discuss the main issues targeted by the party and how those issues are still reflected on today’s society, in particular the issue of sexism, among themselves
  • After concluding individual conversations talk about stereotypical gender roles among communities of color and their impact on women of color
  • For the remainder of the class allow a discussion around gender, sexism, feminism, etc, based of the student’s personal experiences  

Day 4:

  • Divide the class into 5 groups and hand out Through The Eyes of a Rebel Women, the beginning of Women Organizing Women to the end of Last Puerto Ricans on the Planet! to each group
  • Then assign each of the groups a subsection of the document. For example, the first group will be assigned The Women’s Caucus: Catalyst For Change and the last group will be assigned Last Puerto Ricans on the Planet!
  • After they finish reading/reviewing their sections ask them to summarize the information on a poster and present it to the whole class

Day 5:

  • Hand out Position Paper on Women to students and set aside 20-25 minutes of the class period for students to read the document individually
  • After the students have finished reading the document ask them to partner up with the person sitting near them and discuss their reactions to the document
  • Then open the discussion to the whole class and ask them to discuss the importance of the document based on their reactions to the reading
  • For homework the students will write a 3-4 page essay analysing the document, Position Paper on Women, to explain how culturally and socially applied gender roles influenced by the machismo behaviour found in the Puerto Rican culture and racial societal oppression led to an intersectional revolution within the Young Lords Party.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Mann, S., & Huffman, D. (2005). The Decentering of Second Wave Feminism and the Rise of the Third Wave. Science & Society, 69(1), 56-91. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40404229

Morales, I. (2016). Through the eyes of rebel women: The young lords 1969-1976. New York, NY: Red Sugarcane Press.

Article on how to carry out a socratic seminar

_________________

1Tinabeth Piña. (2015, November). The Young Lords [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Anf9kfSe9xc
2Morales, I. (2016). Through the eyes of rebel women: The young lords 1969-1976. New York, NY: Red Sugarcane Press.
3Ibid.
4Mann, S., & Huffman, D. (2005). The Decentering of Second Wave Feminism and the Rise of the Third Wave. Science & Society, 69(1), 56-91. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40404229

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