I teared up as I saw a man and womyn selling oranges on a corner by my house. I wondered what they were thinking. I wondered if they worked for themselves or worked for someone else. I teared up because I wondered if they were afraid. If they had anyone to turn to to explain to them about what’s happening. I wondered if it impacted them at all. I wondered why Trump hated them so much, why he hated me so much.
I teared up because, for the first time since Jan. 20th, I allowed myself to feel scared.
Like really scared; scared for myself, for my family, for my community. It was in that moment that I really, truly felt unsafe. And that I never really have been.
I’m a brown womyn who thinks water should be clean and accessible, animals have a right to live and who believes that Socialism is a humane way to run a country. I voice my opinions loudly and without remorse. But for some goddamn reason, I felt secure in my thinking that some laws protected me. That even if something happened, I had some protection. I forgot that laws are changeable things that dance to the music of the drummer in charge. Laws change at the whim of those in power. And I was naive to think anything different, even if just for one second.
That’s how it works, isn’t it? They make you think that if you work hard, go to college, become someone, you’re safe, no matter how dark your skin or how accented your speech. They make you strive for whiteness as protection, knowing that you’ll never get there. But you’ll never be safe under white supremacy.
And at that realization you move from wanting to be white to really wanting to stay out in the sun without sunblock so that your skin became as dark as a night sky. All you want is to speak two languages without remorse or shame; to let the words roll off your tongue, switching from English to Spanish and back to English without a flicker of notice. To love brown boys who love your curves and your curls.
That all you want is to love yourself for the beautiful brown honey that you always knew you were but were told that you could never be.
This realization happened to me in college. I moved from striving for whiteness to loving myself and the culture that I grew up in. But still, deep down, I believed that I was safe. And now I know that I’m not. No diploma or perfect English will keep me safe in a country that hates me just because I don’t look like what an “American” looks like or because my history in this country doesn’t start on a fucking boat called the Mayflower.
So as I drove past that couple selling naranjas I yelled “fuck it!” in my car as loud as I could. I gave myself the room to be scared but to not live in that fear. I told myself that I would be courageous no matter what came. I told myself that I would see my privileges and use them to support those without them. I told myself that I would allow myself mistakes and not dwell on my imperfections but to rely on what I know. I told myself that I would use my will and determination to make changes to continue to fuel my courage. I told myself that I would take up space where I needed to take it and to step back when I needed to take less.
I told myself that I am a fierce-ass warrior goddess and that I’m going to help tear this motherfucker down.