My militant mother and immigrant father taught me I am a citizen of the world above any other affiliation. My concept of love and my sense of unity has never known the arbitrary bounds of man-made borders, and I was never raised to depend on our political or legal institutions neither here nor abroad to derive a sense of freedom or self-worth.
The happenings of November 8th, 2016 change nothing about my identity and to those whose voices cry out in fear and pain today, this is what I know to be true: our freedom comes from within. Politics are not what make us free. Belief in our inalienable civil rights, our love for ourselves, and our love for all others in the face of hate and injustice is our source of freedom.
My father who grew up poor in a war-torn nation always says to me, “People can take things from you. But they cannot take away what is in your mind.” My mind found comfort in the voice of Zora Neale Hurston today — Black Feminist writer from the Harlem Renaissance who lived in an era of overt sexism and racism — an era that feels all too familiar in 2016. She wrote:
- “Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It is beyond me.”
As mentioned in a previous post, Hurston also said:
- “I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to that sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal. Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world — I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”
To all my Female, Black, Brown, LGBTQ, and Immigrant brothers and sisters, and to all our countless allies: no one can kill your heart, your spirit, or your mind. It is my hope that this message brings you comfort. At the same time I recognize I am saying this while enjoying inordinate amounts of privilege: I look to the future without fear of my basic needs of food, shelter, and security not being met; my family members are not at risk of deportation under a new leader; my access to health care and birth control are not in danger. The pain, suffering, and fear our community is feeling is beyond valid and real. It is my (perhaps arrogant) desire that a message of internal freedom can bring a bit of peace. Meanwhile, I’m getting up. No depression or immobilization for me. I must wield my privilege in service of building a more inclusive and safer planet for all.
Oyster knife up.
Photo by Ashley Soong