Monday, October 17, 2016

Checking in

Happy Monday. How are y’all doing?

I’m going to be honest. We’re all feeling a bit fatigued in my physical and virtual neck of the woods. We don’t often talk politics in this particular venue, but I’m going to say - This presidential election season has been especially brutal on my soul.

I think it comes on top of a great deal of burned in fatigue. The extrajudicial killings and police brutality against people of color, especially Black people, hasn’t slowed. It has been a violent and difficult summer. The attack on “Pulse”, an LGBT nightclub in Orlando on Latinx night was just another reminder that our community spaces aren’t as safe as we imagined. The rhetoric around this election has given attitudes and language that has been “behind closed doors” permission to be in our public spaces. But we knew it had been lurking there for a long time. 

And maybe I’d convinced myself for awhile that we could shoulder the burden - that we could protect each other, that we could push forward. 

But this Monday I’d like to take a moment and acknowledge that we are so damn tired. This matters for our work. It matters that a chunk of my brain is eaten up trying to defend myself, and to defend the rights of my friends and colleagues to exist. It matters in ways big and small. I hadn’t even really realized the full weight of until last week when it hit me like a freight train. I am not trusting new people as I try to build a collaboration. I do not assume the best of those I don’t know. And even for people I do know, I find myself holding a bit back out of fear. Time is spent justifying our existence rather than conducting our research. 

It is getting nearly impossible to not be constantly overwhelmed by the garbage language, by whatever the news cycle brings to our door that reminds us our humanity is in question, and is about to be voted on. We were reminded just last week that there are people who so doubt the veracity of our humanity that they would like to repeal our right to vote - that they will travel to the polls to try and intimidate us out of voting. These are the tapes playing over and over in my head as I sit down to write, to do work in lab, to write my NSF proposal, to write my next paper. The virulence of public hatred is seeping into my making my son’s birthday cake, a trip to the grocery store, or a chat with my husband.

I know. Just ignore it, you say. But here’s the thing - I can’t. And my burden is light, compared to the burden of some. I will never ask those minoritized people in my life to “just ignore it”. Because how do you ignore the fear that a member of your family might be killed in the street? How do you ignore the fact that going to the polls this year may be, in many parts of the country, an act of bravery and physical risk? How do we ignore that nagging feeling that as soon as we walk out of a room, our existence in that space is being undermined?

There are opportunities large and small for us to all push back this flood of hate, racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia. The election in November will have a multitude of ways up and down ballot to support the values you want to see reflected in our communities. Our classrooms are another place we can demonstrate support for each other and recognition of these difficult times. Check in with your staff and your colleagues. Do what you can to provide a buffer for those who need it. And recognize the weight of this hatred isn’t theoretical for a lot of us.

And for those of you who are tired - Hey. You aren’t alone. We’re going to get through this.