Our lives are full of defining moments. They’re milestones like graduating high school, getting married, buying your first home or car, or the birth of your first child. There are historical moments we have frozen in time, memories jarred alive by the question,
“Where were you when…?”
Where were you when the first man landed on the moon?
Where were you when JFK was assassinated?
Where were you when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated?
Where were you when the Twin Towers fell?
These are all very common milestones in our lives that are burned firmly in our collective and individual consciousness. But for some of us, there are other defining moments that don’t resonate with others.
It is not an uncommon view that racial inequality has not changed in the way that many think it has since the Civil Rights Movement (CRM) of the 1950s and 1960s. While there was progress made in terms of facilities and schools no longer being segregated legally and discrimination was no longer allowed in a legal sense, in my view, that’s where the most significant progress ended. Many people have been lulled into a false sense of comfort that “we have come so far” when it comes to race relations, and in turn has promoted damaging colorblind racism which further perpetuates racial inequality as it neglects to acknowledge how much more work there is to do. And most importantly, colorblind racism fails to fully recognize that many in this country still hold racist views, implicit bias and prejudices unknown to them.
In her book “From #blacklivesmatter to Black Liberation”, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor outlines the many systems that have existed since slavery and still exist today that play an important role in maintaining racial stratification. All of these persist in spite of how far we’ve come, a clear indicator that colorblind racism has a strong hold in our country. These systems are important to acknowledge as they have not yet fully dissolved and they ensure the continuation of racial inequality even in light of the achievements that many people of color have been able to make.
On the way into my polling place today, an older Muslim woman was exiting the building. As she came through the double doors, she raised both of her arms high above her head, like a champion who had just won a fight and she shouted:
“Yes! The first time in November! Yes!”
And shook her fists in the air.
I watched as she walked through the parking lot, hugging the women she was with, practically jumping on their backs. Pure exuberance and happiness. Her smile flashing in the swirling snow.
I was immediately filled with an immense sense of joy.
And I was immediately humbled.
Here was someone who was not native to this country who was so empowered by doing something she felt called to do while there are many here, born and raised, who take this opportunity for granted year after year and voluntary choose not to vote because of this attitude of “why bother”.
As Professor Joshua Page says, no matter which way you vote, you should always vote. After all, voting is, as Americans, our “civic minimum”.
I will forever think of this woman as she voted for the first time in a November election celebrating her civic duty as I was on my way to perform mine.
And I will now forever see my civic duty not as something I do because I have to.
But because it’s something I’m able to.
And I’m grateful for that.
I was out with my friend Britta when I first heard of the killings in Pittsburgh on Saturday. We were enjoying a day of “fall fun”: an apple orchard, the pumpkin patch, a trip to Stillwater, which all started at a hip new food court in St. Paul. I had logged onto Instagram on my phone to look for a photo, and the first post that popped up in my feed was from Shaun King, reporting on the shooting and killing of eleven people at a Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A white man had stormed into The Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill armed with an AR-15 and handguns, yelling “All Jews Must Die.”
She swept into the room
and I breathed deep of her.
A vision of excellence.
A vision of greatness.
What Black Women are made of.
long and beautiful, moving with her.
A most delicate dance.
Her breadth of knowledge apparent.
Her thirst for knowledge visible.
Radiating wisdom with every step.
I, in awe.
Lulled into a state of euphoria by her essence.
Submerged in and absorbing
the atmosphere made temperate
by her aura.
Yet wide awake and receptive to
every word, every thought she uttered.
And then she was gone.
But in her wake remained a reverence that begged a question.
Who is she?
She is perfect in a world where everything is twisted and ugly.
The picture of grace and loveliness.
She is comforting in a world that is scary and dark.
The embodiment of warmth and of nurturing.
She is the hope.
She is the light.
She is the shine.
She is you.
She is me.
She is all of us.
She is all
that we can be.
There’s been a lot I’ve been wanting to write about here, and with school ramping up and starting a new job, it’s been hard to sit down and not only decide what to write about, but just actually get the writing done. And truthfully, I have a ton of other work that I’m avoiding right now, which is why I find myself here. Getting out a new post here sounds more exciting than writing a paper for my Research Methods class or reading more material from dead white guys for my Social Theory class. (Not to hate, but I’m just tired of reading Marx and Durkheim right now #truestory.)
So today I’m going to bring it back to thoughts from this summer and my work at local parks and apartment homes bringing meals to kids. It was a great experience overall, but there were definitely some times where I had to stop and think real hard, or steel myself and fight my emotions as I grew attached to these kids. Click through to read more…
Today, three of my roommates and I took a quick little half-day trip to Stillwater, MN. A 30-40 minute drive from our house, it’s a cute little river town full of charm, history and neat little shops.
One of the biggest shops in town is the Midtown Antique Mall, three floors crammed wall to wall, floor to ceiling full of stuff. A hoarder’s paradise and an OCD sufferer’s worst nightmare.
I was powering my way through the store, poking in almost every nook and cranny when there it was. Nothing I had ever seen in person before, but the type of thing I had just written about here.