Can the past inform the future?
Watching recent coverage on the impeachment trial and subsequent acquittal makes me miss my mom and dad. At times like this, I wish could have their help in processing all that is currently going on in our country. My parents met during the civil rights protests of the mid 60’s and 70’s, at a time when our country was facing a similar wave of racial terror, political upheaval and societal uncertainty.
My parents got married at a time when interracial marriage was not fully legal across the United States. My grandparents on my mother’s side did not come to their wedding, because they didn’t condone their marriage. They liked my dad but said they couldn’t support my parents’ marriage out of concern for their future children.
Their children would turn out to be ME.
Being mixed has been difficult at times. (I can’t tell you how many times strangers had the gall to ask me as a child if I was adopted.) Nonetheless, it is a critical part of who I am.
Being biracial has given me the gift of knowing what it means to be a part of a community and an outsider all at once. I know what it means to be the “only Black girl in class”. I know what colorism is and have personally experienced the benefits of light-skin privilege. I know what it feels like to be the “expert” on Black culture in a room full of White folx. I know how it feels to not know which racial box to check in the demographics portion of a standardized test.
These pictures (above) resurfaced after I discovered a cardboard box of old photos my mother had collected before she died. Despite the many challenges I and my parents faced, these photos remind me that previous generations have also faced racism. These photos remind me that fighting back can sometimes look like living your best life, by living your truth with love.
I cannot look at these photos, without thinking about the times in which they were taken. Despite glaring injustice, my parents chose to build a better life because they believed they could create a better world. One they had never seen.
They chose to believe after Jim Crow and public lynching and fire-hoses and civil rights marches. They chose to believe after the murders of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. They chose to believe during the end of the Vietnam War. Under the presidency of Nixon. During Watergate. They chose to believe in hope over fear.
I’m writing this as a reminder to myself, but also to start a conversation with you all, dear readers. Racism, fascism, misinformation, white supremacy and xenophobia are everywhere. Several years after #blacklivesmatter took over social media at the height of the #Ferguson uprising, Black folx continue to be murdered by vigilantes and those entrusted to ‘protect and serve.’ Voting rights are being undermined. Abortion rights are being dismantled. Our president is making deals with corporate war-mongers and dictators. Children are dying in cages.
These are scary times. Nonetheless, these are not the only times our communities have faced injustice, uncertainty, and fear.
I believe in self-knowledge, solidarity. and self-determination. I believe in gay rights, Black power, Native sovereignty, a woman’s right to choose, and environmental justice.
I believe we must keep believing. Our collective voices have power. Our values have power. Solidarity has power.
Trump and others want us to believe we are powerless so we will give up. Silence ourselves. Decline to vote. Stop writing, and speaking up, and marching, and running for public office.
I won’t give them that power. I believe in LOVE ?. And, just like my parents, I believe LOVE and ACTION (in service of that love) can change the world.