I continue to look for inspiration in every corner, and for the hope that I know exists around me. It’s hard not to look at everything that is happening around us and find that hope, but without it there would be no drive to dig out the crap and plant new seeds.
August 26th, 2018, Women’s Equality Day
Today was one of those days when I felt a pit of despair open up in front of me, while I watched the world fall into it, gasping faces smashing into broken bricks, sawn off branches. We are on the brink of collapse and so many refuse to acknowledge it. I went to a rally this morning, with the kids and my camera as usual, and listened to some inspiring and remarkable women talk about their visions and what they are doing to make our lives better places in general. I listened to the passionate voice of Desiree Rojas, who I find to be one of the most inspiring and intelligent people I have heard speak in a long time (also, look up #BoycottDriscolls for an important campaign to participate in).
I listened to Magali Kincaid, whose family is similar to my own, mixed with young kids, and thought about the hard work she is doing to make sure our collective kids have a proper education without discrimination. And I looked at the crowd, saw faces that I often see at rallies and protests, and wondered why the steps weren’t packed with people listening, resisting, speaking up. Why do people turn up for the women’s march en masse but fail to show up for smaller but equally important events? Where are the banners every time the people who are courageously occupying the streets around the ICE building downtown get ticketed and harassed by the police? Why are people not calling out the increasingly violent Sacramento PD scare tactics and hate crimes that are literally happening in their streets and backyards? Is it an inability to believe, or just a purposeful blindness? If you close your eyes you don’t have to get involved kind of deal?
A politician dies and all day long people are praising the good he did, and I have to keep asking myself if this was the same guy I wrote about back in 2011, because I can’t seem to consolidate the two. Have we set the bar so low that nowadays one warmongering politician’s crimes are forgotten because he said a few good things in his later years? I don’t know, maybe people forget too fast. Or maybe I have seen too much to believe that things are going to get better with a few tweets and a couple of marches.
A few days ago my 4 year old daughter came up to me and out of the blue asked me “am I white mama?”, pointing at her skin. I sat down with her and told her that while her skin tone looks white she is half of mummy and half of daddy and therefore a mix of white and brown, of English and indigenous Mexican. I then added that all over the world people of different skin colors lived together, and that we are all different and similar at once. We are all beautiful, we are all human. While I was having this conversation with her it reinforced to me just how harmful the phrases “I don’t see color” or “kids don’t see color” are. I take my kids to political rallies and marches all the time, teaching them to always stand up for their rights and the rights of others, and we talk openly at home about all of the issues this world faces, but I guess I was taken by surprise at just how observant my eldest daughter is. I shouldn’t have been but I was. I assumed we would have to have that conversation after she started school in a few weeks, but I suppose I should have anticipated it earlier. The next day she proudly told me her full name and added “I’m white and brown half of mummy and half of daddy”. Of course I wish we didn’t need to categorize ourselves in terms of race, but unfortunately that’s a thought only white people, including myself, have the luxury to have.
Wednesday September 8th, 2018
Today was the 6 month anniversary of Stephon Clark’s death, shot in the back multiple times by two Sacramento PD officers. Nothing has changed here in Sacramento. Yesterday Sheriff Scott Jones (Mr Neo Nazi) basically asked his supporters to come out and “counter protest” the BLM protest at the convention center. We walked over there with the kids wondering why the sound of two choppers was drowning our voices and why busloads of cops in riot gear were pumping each other up behind the hall. Turns out that they decided to surround the small crowd of protestors as an intimidation tactic. The entire scene felt ominous: the sheriff’s police officers appeared as tormentors, oppressors in front of a peaceful protest. I told Cesar afterwards about how I find the words “they put their bodies on the line” overused in white feminist activism, but how black women are constantly really putting their bodies on the line for all of our rights. Every time the leaders of the BLM Sacramento movement go out into the streets they are risking their lives. We need to do better in supporting them on the ground, I know I need to do much better. One of the women from the local BLM chapter received a death threat yesterday through the sheriff’s supporters. Can you imagine continuing to fight for our collective rights every day even when you know your life is in danger? By the way this is the same sheriff who wanted to keep profiting from federal ICE money. People voted for him again, so it’s obvious where the sentiments of the majority of this city’s inhabitants lie... Sacramento will never be the “most diverse” city they keep trying to pretend it is, and I will never trust Sac PD. They aren’t even capable of enforcing bike traffic violations (it IS illegal to ride bikes on the sidewalk, apparently people here never got that memo), but they are pretty trigger happy when it comes to spraying bullets into the backs of innocent black men and women, and providing ICE with a list of detained immigrants, even if they haven’t been charged with a crime.
A few days ago I was catching up with a very old friend of mine, who is originally from Brasil but now lives in Germany. She told me how anxious she is about the upcoming elections in Brasil, specifically the neo-fascist candidate Bolsonaro, which I readily admitted to not knowing much about (we rectified that during our conversation thankfully). It reminded me of how I felt before the US elections back in 2016, and I surprised myself by still wondering how these people arrive in such powerful positions with the help of their country’s population. It shouldn’t be a surprise, I mean look at what happened here. It scares me for Brazil, a country only beginning to live with democracy, going through steep learning curves. A quote stood out to me in one of the articles my friend sent to me “Bolsonaro visited New York last fall, where he was enthusiastically received by Shannon O’Neil at the Council on Foreign Relations. O’Neil had no qualms about discussing policy with a Brazilian neofascist, but, as John Ackerman noted in an article in The Nation, she was quick to warn of the supposed danger to US interests of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who will soon be sworn in as Mexico’s new president.” The fear of the left is something this country will never get rid of. My despair does not come from an irrational place, there are very real reasons for feeling like giving up sometimes.
But every time I feel on the brink of giving up I read something that shakes me back into place, I watch my children play and ask questions that I know I have to answer truthfully, because while my life hasn’t in any shape or form been easy, I was still born with privileges that they may need to fight for. Because one thing we will never lie about is where we come from, who we are, and what we are fighting for. Changing the world doesn’t mean fighting policies with lesser evil policies and hoping for the best. Changing the world means ripping the institutions from the ground and replacing them with a system that isn’t governed in majority by older white men who think they are entitled to rule over everyone else.
(I don’t even want to get started on Kavanaugh and why people continue to disregard, disbelieve and criminalize women who come forward with their sexual assault and abuse stories. My TMJ has been playing up badly again, and I have been waking up with bad headaches these past few weeks. It suddenly dawned on me, after reading the current president’s disgusting tweet on survivors and their parents (I can’t go back and reread for my own peace of mind and mental health), that it was all too triggering for me. I have never talked to anyone about the full extent of my personal experiences, and most likely never will. And the more stories I read, the more disgusting reactions I see, the more I want to hide in my corner and curl up and disappear. I have overcome too much to let disgusting predators cause more damage to my mental health, but unfortunately, whether I like it or not, they are. I was going to write a whole blog post about it, but that bar that stops me from talking about it also stops me from publishing words about this subject. This is why I am happy I still keep a private journal... Anyway, yet another reason why the rot MUST be dug out, including all areas it has touched, even slightly, and it must be destroyed. There will be no real rebirth unless we have burnt the rotten core of these systems and people to the ground.)
Main sources of inspiration these past few weeks:
I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness - Austin Channing Brown
Reyna Grande’s A Dream Called Home
Michelle Alexander’s new NYT Opinion Column
Heart Berries: A Memoir – Terese Marie Mailhot
Book reviews are on my website right HERE.