Posted on January 17, 2017
Freedom: The Fight isn’t Over
I have been avoiding writing about this topic ever since November 9th. But in a few days, our nightmarish fate will be sealed. People say not to have a defeatist attitude but it’s hard not to.
After the election results surfaced I was devastated, as many of us were. I couldn’t express my feelings in full sentences but the one word that did come to mind was, “Angry.” I tried so hard to make some sense of what had happened by writing. All I could think of to write were these words, “An open wound, salt, never been more woke, beaten and beaten, we are being tested.” I couldn’t get any farther than that incoherent string of words. As I bring my mind back to that day and weed through the foliage of my thoughts, I think this is what I was trying to say:
Black and brown people have been suffering from the effects of colonialism, white privilege, institutionalized racism, microaggressions that aren’t so micro, violence, discrimination, and disrespect for the past forever. But it has become especially oppressive to us because we don’t technically live under Jim Crow anymore and we now have a right to fight against these things happening to us. However, when we do fight, it is clear that the general public believes that we aren’t supposed to be fighting. Still, we are growing farther and farther away from respectability politics and becoming more aware – more woke. We know that though a lot has changed, far too many things have stayed the same. We know that we shouldn’t just be thankful that we aren’t slaves anymore. We deserve life, and not just life, but quality of life and that if we don’t get it, we are allowed to be angry. We are again growing more radical and more willing to call out racist people and unjust systems. We are aware that even though we had a Black president for two terms that does not mean that we are not still hated by many. It does not mean that things have gotten better. All that has changed is that the oppressor has to be less blatant in its oppression. Or maybe not so much.
Enter Trump. I hate to say his name. Even to write it. It seems that the country despises us and those who recognize our humanity so much that they made sure that there would be repercussions to us thinking that maybe we were free. The funny thing is, even under a Black president, we knew we weren’t free. We were still suffering, but apparently not enough. The perfect end to that was Trump. Throw salt in our wounds. Show us who’s boss. Teach us not to ever get out of line again, think we run anything, believe that we are worth anything. We are still slaves to corrupt ideologies that we are not allowed to break free from. Ideologies that tell us we are nothing, that we are less than, that we deserve the terrible hands we are so often dealt. People don’t realize that just as the legacy of the oppressor gets passed down to generations, so does the legacy of the oppressed.
The last thing I wrote was, “We are being tested.” Are we? I don’t think I feel that way anymore. I don’t think that this is as calculated as a test. The colonization of a people, a land, minds, and bodies – that is systematic. But sometimes the tools that are used to achieve this colonization end up being a bit more sinister than planned. I doubt that the powers that be envisioned someone so unequivocally rotten to be the perfect solution to their dilemma, but they got him and now they are stuck with him just as we are. Their plan was flawed, but I know that for our own livelihood, if this is a test, we must pass it.
‘We’ are the people who matter the most now, the women, the minorities, the Muslims, the immigrants, the queer, the trans – the Americans. The people who matter most because the rest of the country says that we don’t. We matter because we are the game changers. We are the people who are forced to change the game because our existence depends on it.
I am a woman. I am a child of immigrants. I am Black. I am queer. I have been without healthcare and have used Planned Parenthood. As a millennial, my career was dramatically affected by the financial crisis of 2008, the result of Wall Street and the 1% being allowed to run amok for their own gain – something that our (#notmypresident) would love to see happen again. It feels like the incoming regime exists in order to kill every single part of me one by one. Piece by piece. How can I sit by and let that happen? Sometimes it’s too much to think about. I wish I could run away from it all. But then he would win. They would win. This is so much bigger than one man – this is a disgusting history repeating itself, just in a different form. Maybe it’s a losing battle to fight a persistently present history, but it’s sure as hell worth a try.
I look back at all the queer Black women who have fought to make a difference when their struggles looked insurmountable. They took on battles despite the odds being 110% against them. They effected change. Most importantly they stepped up to the challenge with seemingly no fear. I owe them that much. To fight to protect their legacy. To protect my people. To try.
It is much easier to answer the why than the how, but we must start small so that we don’t succumb to defeat before the battle has begun. We cannot get overwhelmed. We must figure out the ways each of us can contribute using our individual talents. Just as many parts of me are oppressed, there are several parts of me that I was able to squeeze out of the system to make my life worth a little bit more, especially in their eyes. I can use those things to bring about the change I want to see. I can use those gifts and blessings to help others bring about the change. We can fight this. No matter how hard. We must fight to live, to breathe, to have the choice whether or not to stay in this place we call home. We owe it to the generations of Americans who overcame before us, to the Indigenous people whose land this truly belongs to, and to our ancestors in our homelands to fight for the freedom we may not have been promised, but that we rightfully deserve.