Can I just first say that I can’t remember the last time I was this nervous to post my thoughts? I wanna put that out there. Like, literally, I’m experiencing anxiety as I type this intro to the video below. I’m trying to find as many words to put in between this text and my vulnerability. I started this post yesterday, but had to put it away because it was either anxiety or sleep…you know how that ended. Today, it’s been “anxiety or listen to awesome podcasts?” — “anxiety or cook me a delicious veggie burger?” — “anxiety or pack for my holiday trip?”…yeah, that much fear. [side note: I chose the latter options over anxiety only twice…not for lack of trying, but I couldn’t justify packing two weeks early]. I guess it’s the putting a face to the words thing. Or maybe the I’m still working on the self-consciousness and standards of beauty thing. Or it could be the wow, my eyebrows are pretty expressive and a bit dramatic when I talk thing. …probably a combination of all that plus more. But anyway, if I’ve learned anything over the past year and a half or so, it’s that where there’s fear, there’s an opportunity to move into it rather than run away…granted, I feel like I’m moving rather slowly into it this time, but whatevs, progress ya’ll.
So, below is a reflection I’ve written about my identity as a woman of color. Poetry. Spoken word. Resistance. Call it what you will.I’ll call it courage.
I wrote and published this with my doctoral dissertation on intersectionality and the identity development I experienced as a child and into young adulthood (development I continue to experienced on the daily). It feels important to share for a couple of reasons. First, the whole fear thing. I’ve constantly challenged myself to do rather than just be or reflect, but have rarely felt enough fire to overcome the fear. This is a good way to hold myself accountable and step into the vulnerability. Second, the timing seems too coincidental to keep these words to myself. Yes, they are my words, but I feel that they capture the experience of many. Sadly, the fears, doubts, pain, disappointment, and struggle are not mine to bear alone…but neither are the pride and hope and courage.
Okay, I’ll stop avoiding. I hope this will help you reflect on who you are and where you came from as well as where you’re going…because #movement is needed.
[*full text below. Sharing is encouraged, with credit por favor 🙂
Be kind, friends
Sending love from the clouds, always]
Brown / orgullo renacido
I’ve always said,
I brown easily
soaking in the light
to be nourished,
by the sunshine
a poignant sign that
I am brown
I work hard
And work through
All the hurdles in place
from without and within
that lead to this space
of not knowing the way
still, I remember
I am brown
I stand out
And shut out
Those who tell me I can’t
so I do
to acknowledge or accept
I am brown
I was told
too much and too soon
the how’s and the don’ts
with no why’s
well I won’t
because my place is to lead
to share the voice of the voiceless
the dreams of the proud
because we are brown
we are / I am
color de caramelo
o de la tierra
de donde vengo
con pies y alma
pero no destruidos
tal vez soy azteca,
tolteca, o mixteca
navegando sin prisa
en medio de la búsqueda
de mi voz, de mi alma
sin necesitar pericia
porque estoy creando y
con esta piel morena
que yo tengo
viviendo entre dos mundos
con fe, sin ansiedad
con confianza y claridad
no hay que temer
a lo desconocido
a causa de todo esto
con un orgullo renacido
(c) Claudia Mejia, 2016
*This reflection was written as a direct response to anti-immigrant and anti-Latinx ideologies spread by recent (and, if we’re being honest with ourselves, not-so-recent) political and national events. There is mostly anger and resentment reflected here. But this is only a small fraction of the emotions I’ve felt over the past few months, cycling through moment by moment.
[Friends, I shit you not, I have found myself crossing the street or taking alternative routes to avoid certain people. I try to recognize and own my bias, working to change them when possible (and when not-so-possible, I’m stubborn that way). AND, at the same time, I also recognize what my experience has been, recently and not-so-recently, what the experience of many others has been. Initially (i.e. a few weeks ago), as I drove around around with my windows down, I feared what would be said to me by passersby who heard mi musica, who saw my skin, who heard mi voz. …this is not okay. YET, my experiences do not come close to the actual threatening or discriminatory or racist encounters experienced by recently by so many others…].
Still, I fear and feel. Anxiety. Worry. Paranoia. Shame. Despondency. Doubt…yet, despite those unpleasant feelings and fears, I also feel a fire to do and act and move, a feeling I haven’t felt before, not like this. I tend to work mainly from a place of reflection, insight, and intuition. However, I’m trying not to ask of others what I won’t commit to doing myself. So, I am also actively working to educate myself. I hope you’ll do the same. I’ll continue to reflect and not silence my voice, like I’ve done so many times before. This time, I’ll try to be bold. More to come…
If you won’t have us…
If you won’t have us
Then you can’t have me
No “exotic” women and men
that make you weak in the knees
Not our beautiful lenguaje
You clumsily navigate with your tongue
Ni our salsa picante to flavor your food
Corn, tacos, or tortas, you should not have none
If you won’t have us
Our music and art should then not be shared
Neither Fernando Botero or David Siqueiros
Nor Frida Kahlo’s beautiful despair
No salsa, cumbia, or banda to make you move your feet
Ni tequila o aguardiente to help soothe your soul
Or our sarapes and blankets
To help you keep warm
If you won’t have us
Our inventions shouldn’t remain
Were it not for Pedro Paulet and his liquid fuel
We may not have begun our trips into space
And what would you do
without your color t.v.
Thank Guillermo González Camarena
The next time you see
So, no, you can’t have all that
if you don’t want to have us
Lo que trajo mi gente
Should then remain between us
So one of the (many, many, many) take-aways from recent (and not-so-recent) national events was that I need to write. So I will.
This won’t be me writing about the fear and grief and despondency I’ve experienced over the past year*, emotions that seemed to spill over late Tuesday near midnight as I woke up from a migraine-induced nap just in time to see the results of the election, emotions that continue to hold their grip and feel like they may have no ending.*That writing will come soon.
I won’t reflect on why I left work early Wednesday, unable to spend my usual 7-9 hours trying to heal the pain of others knowing that I needed to take time to heal my own*. I won’t be writing about how I felt like I had no words for my client that came in with fears for their safety due to their gender identity and sexual identity, or a client whose panic attacks re-emerged after having made progress processing the deportation of a parent a few years prior. *That healing will take place.
I won’t be writing about the hypocrisy of right-wing voters, or left-wing voters, or protest voters, or non-voters. *That writing won’t occur..but explanation of why is right below, so keep reading, friends.
Instead, I’ll write about my own (hypocrisy, that is).
Clouds, what? Why not write about your anger? Why focus on your hypocrisy?
Well, because, honestly, that is the only thing I’m 100% certain of. I think part of the reason why the divisiveness has gotten so heavy and hateful is because people are blaming and projecting and assuming intentionality rather than stopping to look inward first. *This doesn’t mean that there isn’t space (and need) for accountability or anger or hurt. It simply means that the person I know the most is me, so I’ll start there.
In a different life, today…
I might be celebrating 10 years with you
perhaps still unaware
that unhappiness isn’t a necessary part of life
assuming that the highs and lows are a personal fault
an “I must have done something wrong”
one you never seemed to concern yourself with
or seek to understand Read the rest of this entry »
Transitions can bring about the good, the bad, and the ugly. They can show you what you’re made of. They can illuminate the true nature of certain relationships in your life. They can drive you a bit crazy. Or they can fill you with confidence. They can also knock you on your ass. We’ve all had them, to one extent or another. Sometimes, those moments lead to impulsive (read: long time coming) reflections. This one comes after about 3 weeks in a new city, a week and a half into my new role as a legit professional, and after several interactions that made me have more negative reactions that I would have like. Following this, I also had several moments that humbled me (like “fall on my ass and need someone to pick me up” humble). I’ll explore allll that more fully later perhaps. I recognize that the first part is fueled by frustration and is momentary and undoubtedly eclipsed by the countless blessings and Godwinks that have filled my life. And I know that I being forcefully humbled is part of what has been happening through inadvertently lost packages and semi0broken into cars where the “robbers” take only a few dollars and a couple pairs of cheap sunglasses while leaving behind chargers, usbs, and other electronics (thank you, Universe/God/Creators of life). I don’t know if I’m through the forest yet, in the metaphorical sense, but for now, I’ll reflect on my process in hopes that you can relate and let the keys do the work as I let the thoughts flow through my fingers. Maybe it’s pride…
I’m sitting at one of my favorite Starbucks in Miami, staring out the window at the sky. On my left, the sky is covered in ominous clouds that threaten rain and fill me with a tinge of despair. On my right, a bright light blue sky with white streaks of shapeless clouds fills me with hope. I’m sitting in a green strapless sundress (given that my tanned /slash/ almost sunburned skin can not handle much clothing at this point), sipping my tall nonfat dirty chai, needing a pick-me-up as I attempt to work on the final presentation of my internship year /slash/ graduate education /slash/ formal education overall after a calm, sunshine and humidity filled morning at the beach alone…and I can’t help thinking “how the hell did I get here?!?”
I’ve been having this struggle lately (/slash/ not-so-lately) and I was thinking maybe you’ve been there too. Or maybe you’ll be there someday. Or maybe you’ve seen someone who’s been there. Or…whatever, the point is I asked myself, what’s the best thing to do when I’m struggling a bit? explore, of course.
[and we’re going to ignore the fact that I’ve been MIA for a bit…a long bit. I’ll probably write about it later. …probably meaning more than likely since I missed writing… alotta bit. buuut this draft was sitting, waiting, ready to be finished. So, on a Sunday night, after researching moving companies and applying for an apartment, I’m doing what I now best, writing…and procrastinating from the to-do list that’s been staring me in the face…and attempting to heal. So let’s continue, shall we? Thank you for agreeing].
Okay, back to it: so the struggle is with figuring out who I am. Well, not who I am exactly. Maybe more so it’s about being comfortable with who I’m figuring out I am. Or maybe not that either. …obviously the struggle is real since I can’t find an understandable way to express it.
I guess it’s fitting all the my pieces together in a way that doesn’t feel so disjointed. …yeah, I think that’s it. Read the rest of this entry »