I was going to say, that like any average youth, I grew up not really dwelling on the past. But that isn’t really true, is it? As I thought about my own context, and then those around me that has similar contexts, I also thought about those younger than I, still within my generation but that are fiercely dedicated to the improvement of their context. Those are the ones who have normalized the world “decolonization” in my mental vocabulary. Not older educators and philosophers who seemed disconnected and somehow still caught up in the very fabric they were trying to dismantle, but the younger voices, who had grown up in a context that was not my own. In other words, who could not afford to not “dwell on the past.”
So I grew up not thinking about it. About where I came from, who my family beyond my parents might have affected me, and even less caring about my ancestors. But that is because I had the privilege on not needing to know anything. To feel like history is irrelevant.
But what is history, if not stories of who we are, how we got to the problems we’re facing, and how to solve (or not) solve them? How could that ever be irrelevant?
To me, it all just feels like a part of a society that normalizes anything that distances you from your roots, and your community. The less stories we know of our greatness, the more stories we know of failure, and the leadership of others that are unlike us, the easier we are to control. It’s been working, because it was easy, it’s all we wanted to do.
And now? Whatever this is that we’re living in? Is clearly unsustainable. Those of us who think we’re sustaining a life of stability and wealth without any kind of true hardship or suffering, are doing so while others live a shattered life of hardship and suffering without any kind of true stability or wealth. And to me, that doesn’t feel real.
If my safety is an illusion provided by the powers that be due to my skin color and social class (or whatever) then it isn’t real safety. And in order to understand the rules of the game I’m being played in (because 99% of us are very much playing someone else’s games with someone else’s rules) we have to look at history.
I may be on a giant Monopoly board just waiting for the table to be flipped over, but I don’t have to spend every tic-toc waiting for the inevitable explosion and for me to get swiped away. Everything feels so apocalyptic right now. We didn’t need a virus to turn us into zombies, our own greed is toxic enough, our world is dying and there’s some kind of severe humanity issue going on in every continent of the world. (I didn’t look that up but I’m feeling fiercely confident about that statement, so I challenge you to prove me wrong.) Instead of sitting around and wait to see how many more freedoms and rights we get taken away, how many more loopholes are made to keep us from accessing freedom and pursuing happiness, I have decided to better understand the things that affect me personally based on the identities placed in society. And I don’t want to do that by playing it safe and staying within the confines of who I know with people that think and look like me because that’s never going to help me grow.
I also need to learn more so that I can be useful in fighting for my community and the people I love. I can’t fully respect someone that doesn’t actively try to figure out how to constantly be a better human. I don’t respect lack of compassion for others though I can still be compassionate for those that lack it themselves. But I don’t respect it. I think it’s lazy, boring, and shallow. Unfortunately I am close to a lot of people that lack compassion, and tragically, it’s a huge chunk of good friends of mine that are white Americans. I use the frustration to fuel my desire to want to work harder at being more active with what I provide for others, and I know that I can never point a finger at anyone before pointing it at myself so mostly, I try to just put my mouth where my pride is and walk the walk.
And in learning where to step and what to do, I’ve been navigating the waters by following my activist leaders: Shaun King, Franchesca Ramsey, Luvvie Ayaji, Priscilla Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez founder of Latina Rebels, Porochista Khakpour, Nik Hampsire, and Ashley Fairbanks just to name my current favorite few. I follow them all on Facebook along with other people and newsfeed which keep me humbly learning and up to date on what is currently going. In case you didn’t know, currently, EVERYTHING is going on. We’re being bombarded on all sides. And the best way that I have found to connect to proactive anger and efficient self love is by listening to those who live with their history still affecting them every day.
Next week I will be traveling to Spain, and as a Colombian woman, I think it will be a fantastic time to think about history and my past, why it matters and how it actually still affects us all. I know it does on a heart level, but I’d like to be able to further explore it as I wish to have a better understanding of the topics of conversation that come up.
Because not dwelling on the past is a privilege, and privilege is a lie.
Stay tuned and let’s have a conversation about this.
Art by Madspeitersen