We have sinned.
We have not loved God.
We have not loved our neighbors.
We are screaming, sometimes silently, because it’s not safe to let our pain and anger be seen.
We are lamenting. We are enraged. We are in grief. We are in fear.
We cry out asking “Do you not care?” “Do you not see?” “How can you not hear our cries?”
We have lost trust.
We have lost friends and loved ones.
We have lost parts of ourselves.
We have lost hope.
We have chosen preservation over pursuit of justice.
We are tired.
We can choose to live here.
We can also choose to imagine a better world.
“The most important word in the US Constitution is the word WE.”
– President Barack Obama.
Our personhood, our families, our community, our nation, or world is, as MLK famously penned, “caught in an inescapable network of mutulality ties in a single garment of destiny. What affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
This past week, brought forth another wave of pain, anger, lament, fear, and loss of life. A singular person took the lives of 8 people: Soon Chung Park (74), Sun Cha Kim (69), Yong Ae Yue (63), Paul Andre Michels (54), Hyun Jung Grant (51), Xiaojie Tan (49), Daoyou Feng (44), Delaina Ashley Yaun (33). His atrocious actions forever changed the lives of the families whose loved one were taken. It also enraged the cries of the the AAPI community, as the rise of hate-crimes towards Asian American since the beginning of the pandemic hit horrific numbers, with six of the 8 people killed being women of Asian decent. The actions following the mass shooting, continued to reveal the fear and lived experiences of communities of color who are constantly being dehumanized and perceived as threats, such as the treatment of Mario Gonzalez, who survived the shooting but was mistakenly HANDCUFFED for several hours, while his wife Delaina Yaun lay dying, because the police did not believe that he was at the spa with his wife or was a victim himself.
The responses from myself, my family, my sisters, my APPI community, and other BIPOC communities has been wide ranging. This last week has brought up a lot of wounds, pain, anger, fear, mistrust, and brokenness not just within our AAPI community, but so many other communities who have been on the receiving side of dehumanization and rhetoric that have made our lives feel as those we are unworthy, “othered,” disposable, and invisible. I’ve had conversation with so many women this week lamenting how exhausted and angry we feel regarding the desire to be safe, the silence of our brothers, and knowing that our world is not yet safe for us. I’ve had conversations with my Black brothers and sisters, regarding their desire to be in solidarity with me, while also acknowledging their honest pain that they are navigating as they reflect on anti-black rhetoric and experiences they have received from the AAPI community, and even at times silence and lack of solidarity with the Black community.
These conversations remind me how truly intertwined our lives are. Our pain is real. Our uncertainty to believe and trust each other is real. Our shared history in the United States can show us all the ways BIPOC communities have been pinned up against each other, even weaponized as a means to divide, such as the creation of the term of Model Minority that has harmed all of us. And that is exactly what white supremacy, racism, sexism, and xenophobia does, it removes our strength, our power as whole, and keeps us distracted from the greater systems, structures, and ideologies that benefit from our pain our exhaustion, our turmoil, and fear.
As I wrote the poem above, the reality is we are all found in it. We can read it and I believe identify ourselves and our communities somewhere within the statements made. If not, than you might need to take a honest look in the mirror and ask: “Why, don’t I see myself in this? Am I part of the problem.”
Anyone who knows me, recognizes that I am a huge history nerd, I love understanding the context of things, and I love finding ways to celebrate each other. For me, celebration is my act of resistance. It is the vehicle by which I chose to bring forth what is hidden and the change I believe in.
It is important to understand our history, how we got here today. We must know the pain and injustices of the past to correctly understand the way of justice today. But I also find strength in the ways our ancestors and those who believed in a different world than what is, stood together in solidarity to bring about change. From the uniting of Filipinos and Chicanos to form the United Farm Workers Union and Delano Grape Strike and Boycott, or the coming together of Black, Latinx, and AAPI students in the late 60’s to create the Third World Liberation Movement, our strength lies within our We.
We must understand each others pain.
We must take responsibility for the ways we have caused harm.
We must acknowledge the impact of our silence.
We must believe that we can’t change our world without each other.
We must move towards each other.
We must allow our anger to inform us.
We must let love for each other be greater than the hate that was used to keep us apart.
Meleca Jerra Pernito Abuda Consultado