And now the work. The fundamental work of inclusion that leads to justice.
This morning I woke to a horror that felt – in my body – very similar to waking up on September 11th. That day, I feared for our brown-skinned neighbours – for anyone who looked possibly, maybe, even-kinda Middle Eastern. I feared how this might threaten civil liberties and religious freedom.
And yet, I was protected, insulated from the realities of what that fear described. That is what privilege does. Since then, I’ve paid attention, become much better informed.
Over time, that fear changed. It morphed into righteous anger, into a drive for justice, into a resolve to do the work. I have learned how the safety and liberty, the protection and dignity of so many was already threatened, including:
- all people of colour – with particular risk to those of the Muslim faith, so easily identified by those who would divide us;
- our African-American neighbours, especially the ones who carry the history of enslaved peoples in their DNA, and all of whom face systemic, sanctioned racism at nearly every turn;
- the LGBTQ members of our community – and anyone who doesn’t fit into a tidy box of gender binary;
- our disabled neighbours – with multiple obstacles to undertaking the basic activities of daily life;
- indigenous peoples – who have faced genocide, displacement, and erasure for centuries;
- women – who fight for credibility, autonomy, and parity every day.
Belonging to more than one of these groups means the work is even harder, the hill steeper, the discrimination more insistent, and the risk to physical and emotional safety greater in every way.
That is intersectionality in a nutshell.
So, today we are devastated. In shock. I woke up fearful again. This is a trauma to so many communities. No matter who won yesterday, we were going to have enormous work to do to heal the profound rifts in this country. This election result is a mirror.
It is showing us where we need to do the work, to deepen our resolve.
Not in four years, or two years. But today. And tomorrow. And the next day. Every day until no one feels threatened, until all feel safe.
For my marginalised friends and community members: I am listening. I will continue to listen to and amplify your voice and perspective.
I have your back in any way I can. If you want to, if you have the time and patience and bandwidth, please let me know how I can help.
I promise to continue having the hard conversations with people who share my privilege: inclusion and celebration of diversity must be our goal. You deserve a place at the table. You deserve respect. You deserve dignity and protection and liberty and safety.
You deserve justice.
Title of the post comes from this poem, by the brilliant warsan shire.
what they did yesterday afternoon
they set my aunt’s house on fire
i cried the way women on tv do
folding at the middle
like a five pound note.
i called the boy who used to love me
tried to ‘okay’ my voice
i said hello
he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?
i’ve been praying,
and these are what my prayers look like;
i come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water.
later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
where does it hurt?