Last week, one of our campus groups Empowered Women of Ohio organized a week long series of events focused on sparking our ability to empower ourselves and empower others to confront systems of oppression (within the university, within our communities, and even within ourselves). The week ended with a walk, Support Our Survivors, to honor all who identify as a survivor in whatever way that means for them. The walk was to honor and celebrate survivors of sexual violence but also eating disorders, physical illness, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, hate crimes, racism, and all forms of violence and dehumanization. It was a time to gather to honor those individuals (present and not present) as well as celebrate their lives, stories, and experiences of resilience. I was asked to share a reflection before our march…below is the reflection I shared.
Many thanks to all for your presence today as we honor and celebrate survivors and all who are living through hardship into wholeness.
I am here today to honor the women in my family who are survivors of relational violence. But I am also here for myself, as I too am a survivor… I have survived bigotry, tokenization, and other attacks of dehumanization.
Today we honor those who have survived sexualized and relational violence … AND we also embody our solidarity to all who have suffered attacks on their personhood due to homophobia, transphobia, abelism, ageism, racism, economic injustice, stigmas of mental illness, and other acts of violent misunderstanding.
For many of us Latinas and Latinos, our response to “how are you” is often “en la lucha” … in the struggle. For us, the struggle reflects that we are alive…that we are facing hardships with spicy sacred sass…that we are taking risks and embracing life in its fullness. “La lucha,” the struggle, demonstrates that our lives are worth-filled and that we are living life on our own terms, not on the terms of those who oppress and marginalize.
Today as community, we are embodying our solidarity for survivors en “la lucha”…we are here for ourselves, for those close to us, and for those we do not know…we are here for ALL who are surviving everyday, because surviving is not a one time thing but an ongoing and evolving journey of wholeness-making.
We are here for individuals who are harassed with homophobic, transphobic, biphobic, and human-phonic slurs but who refuse to be closeted.
We are here for all those overcoming an eating disorder and disordered attacks on their bodies.
We are here for all who are impacted by suicide.
We are here for those who see the scars of battling breast cancer not as body humiliation but as badges of courage and strength.
We are here for ALL children who are abused physically, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually
We are here for folks like me who see the act of getting out of bed everyday as a triumphant act of resistance in the face of depression and other mental health challenges.
We are in “la lucha” and we are “la lucha”…our struggle is not one of shame but of resilience…it is struggle filled with rants for change, of prophetic silences, of honoring all those who have struggled to live, laugh, and love before us.
“Vivir es luchar, luchar es vivir.” To live is to struggle, to struggle is to live. Our lucha as survivors and in solidarity with survivors is not defeatist but is a hope-filled raving proclamation that we are surviving and more importantly that we are thriving!
To close, I share these “delfin tweaked” words from Chicana and lesbian poet, activist, and prophetess Gloria Anzaldua…
“Why am I compelled to [survive]?… Because the world I create [through struggling] compensates for what the real world does not give me. By [surviving] I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. I [survive] because life does not appease my appetites and anger… [To struggle is to] become more intimate with myself and you. To discover myself, to preserve myself, to make myself, to achieve self-autonomy. To dispell the myths that I am a mad prophet or a poor suffering soul. To convince myself that I am worthy and that what I have to say is not a pile of shit… Finally I [survive] because I’m scared of [struggling], but I’m more scared of not [struggling].”
Muchas gracias…together en la lucha siempre!
featured image from: http://www.christiansurvivors.com/