Many things have changed for me since my last blog post one year ago. I’m not sure why I stopped posting. Maybe it wasn’t my form of self care that I wanted it to be, or perhaps I became bored of it. It’s hard to recall, but I am writing today because I need to express.
In recent times, I find myself at a pivotal moment as a growing academic and a member of this society. President Obama wrote long before he took office “my choices were never truly mine alone” (Dreams from My Father, 1995). I interpret this as the fact that choices, no matter how individualistic, will impact someone, somewhere. Our choices always matter. We have seen the choices others have made over the years. Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland. They are all dead because of choices. We have seen hundreds of choices in this past week that have psychologically and physically hurt others (see Southern Poverty Law Center Incidents Reported).
Now, these are not unfamiliar choices. For those who say they are shocked at these choices, perhaps you forgot the slave trade when Africans were forced into labor, sold like animals, and killed in genocide. Perhaps you forgot the genocide of Native Americans and indigenous peoples around the world from colonialism. And I will add the forced migration and assimilation of these people, creating a devastating cultural deterioration and loss. Perhaps you forgot the Holocaust, where millions upon millions of marginalized groups such as the Jews, Roma, disabled, and LGBT were brutally murdered for their “supposed” inferiority. Perhaps you forgot other genocides of the Armenian people, the Tutsi. Perhaps you forgot apartheid in South Africa, where long after the American Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, people of color in this country were still forced into separate spaces and physically and psychologically traumatized until 1994. Perhaps you forgot the rise in Islamophobia in America after September 11th, 2001. Perhaps you forgot the lack of support and action on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where people of color do not have access to clean water and still nothing has changed.
I believe my point is clear.
These choices that we are seeing today are nothing new. I will admit, the examples I gave are extreme. But the aggressions we are seeing committed today are the same ones that led to these historical, critical, unforgettable incidents. From the time that identity became something more than just “human,” people have been harassed, forced out, stereotyped, marginalized, tortured, and murdered for their identity.
Call me an SJW, a raging feminist, a hardcore liberal, a cry baby whiner. Whatever label you choose, these are my thoughts tonight.
People are hurting, mentally and physically. People are frightened for their rights, well-being, and lives. No matter your vote or abstention in the election, we must validate our fellow human beings’ feelings. We all deserve the recognition that our feelings are real.
And we cannot stop there. I implore you all to never stop thinking about what you can do for others. I beg you to read, but read all sides of the divide for we are more knowledgeable when we know the whole picture. And above all else, I ask you all to take care of yourselves. I am happy to provide you with resources if you need. Just ask.
Be aware. Be vigilante. Be strong.
Be proud of the beautiful you.