by the Young Women’s Freedom Center. Originally published in their blog here

Our words can change the world. At YWFC [Young Women’s Freedom Center] we are taking back the page, the stage, and the airwaves. Read, watch, and listen to our work on this blog.

Nobody gets to tell us who we are, but they try all the time. Here are words of resistance from YWFC women:

Julia Gabriella Guzman Arroyo:

Too skinny, dumb, slow, special ed, orphan,
Too hairy, back hair, mustache, unibrow
Shit, at least I’m warm
Troubled, criminal, bastard.
Pur misques
Hoe shit, dope fiend, whore

Kandy Kalani Ifopo: 

Why is your name Kandy
You don’t look like Candy
You don’t taste like Candy
Ew you’re not even sweet

Kandy is from my Aunt
Named after a woman who is a survivor
Of judgement, beatin, hatred
and from a culture of structure.

Kandy. Why did you name me that mom?
It’s like people always make fun of me,
I been told that I have a stripper name
And that I could be sold for money.

Kandy rhymes with Mandy which
You look to be manly is what others
Used to taunt me with.
I never was accepting of my name
Due to the laughter
And jokes that scraped layers of confidence away
From my whole being.

That is a form of violence
A form of evilness
And the fuel
For hatred.
I wish that I had love embedded in me growing up,
But I have it now.
Never again will you contribute to my identity.

Mel Jerome:

What they call me–
Too much.

They call my passion aggression
My feelings, irrelevant.

My heart…so upset.

They call me a mess
I say it’s due to the

The stress they provide
Temporary authority over
My grown ass life.

They call my honesty

Truth endangered by
The bullshit.
The bullshit I can’t lift,
Don’t want to take.
Bullshit Bullshit in
Your face

Lucero Herrera: 

Lucero, Luce, Light, Nah is Lucero
It means star
Nah my name is Lucero
It may stand for that or other things
It stands for me, Lucero, Me, not Luchero
My mom named me Lucero
Who is Jonathan
My mom named by brother Remberto, not Roberto
Remberto, hate when our names aren’t pronounced right
Here we go
Kids can’t even pronounce my name
Not even my teacher.
I should have just been called Lisa,
No then they would call me pizza.