The Day After

El Silencio Mata. Silence kills. Oaxaca mural.

(Image credit)

(Anita)

I went to bed early Tuesday night, not knowing the results of the presidential election. The first thing I saw Wednesday morning was a text from my brother: “Are you okay?” I knew then that Donald Trump had won. I logged onto Facebook: friends expressing surprise, sorrow, concern, anger, solidarity, love, and resolve. I appreciated white, straight friends promising to stand up for and with friends who are immigrants, queer, trans, POC–thank you and I’ll hold you to those promises. I appreciated the helpful reminders that the struggles against patriarchy, settler colonialism, racism, and xenophobia have been going for a long time; they have continued during the Obama presidency, would have continued during a Clinton presidency, and will continue during the Trump presidency.

(Adriana)

I had planned to go to an Election eve party on Tuesday, but a descending migraine kept me at home. In retrospect, that headache was an augur and a gift. At home, I sipped whiskey, ate Halloween candy, listened to the NPR stream, and read the 538 and NYT coverage. Slowly but surely I felt the world slip out from under me. At 10 p.m., heavy with a throbbing head and a growing sense of dread, I went to sleep, after texting with my son. “…” he first wrote. I knew exactly what that meant.

I woke up throughout the night. I would roll over, check my phone, fight to contain my fear and my sadness, then try to sleep again. Waking up to the day felt wrong. Mourning is like this. You look towards this possible future, the one you thought you were headed for, and you have to recognize it’s gone. Then somehow you have to keep on moving forward into the future you now realize you don’t understand or know or want. But this mourning is different, right? I’m grieving for the United States that I thought we could be, might be, and most importantly, should be.

How do we teach in sadness? I spent the morning running. Literally. I headed out to the woods and grounded myself in the feeling–ephemeral though it may be–that I have some strength, some power, and a world that makes sense to me. I wear a t-shirt for the day with the words, “El silencio mata” and make plans to hold space for my students. bell hooks prepares me for that: “I believe whole-heartedly that the only way out of domination is love, and the only way into really being able to connect with others, and to know how to be, is to be participating in every aspect of your life as a sacrament of love, and that includes teaching.” Love is not just a feeling. Love is a set of actions. Let us love deeply and radically; let us act wildly and meaningfully.

(Us)

We go to a rally on campus organized by our students. There are at least 300 students, staff, faculty, and community members in attendance. Students share their thoughts. They share their worries about feeling targeted in their women/queer/Black/Brown/immigrant bodies. They remind their peers that they had been so organized and involved in Get Out The Vote efforts, in supporting local progressive candidates, and in going out and voting. They talk about the practical steps moving forward to support those who might be affected most by policies and practices in the next four years–-getting trained as an escort for women going into reproductive health clinics, for example. They remind us to support and care for ourselves and each other. They make us feel hopeful and inspired.

To our students who organized the rally and who have been organizing and have been building bridges and coalitions across differences before the election and will continue to do so now: we see you, we support you, and we thank you.

To our former students who are now teachers themselves, working with children and young adults whom they are supporting and holding space for right now: we see you, we support you, and we thank you.

Teaching, learning, listening, and organizing trumps hate. Let’s get (back) to it!

Some suggestions for next steps:

Let us know if you have any other suggestions that we should add to this list.

The Origin Story

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A visual of our collaboration. (Citation)

As we come back to this space after taking some time away from it, we wanted to write a post explaining why we have this blog. Why a blog? Why a shared blog? And what’s up with the blog name?

WHY A BLOG? Since we’ve met, we’ve been having conversations that have blown both of our minds. We push each other to think more deeply and fully, and that has been a sustaining element in our lives in Minnesota. Not to toot our own horns (not that either of us are good at tooting horns), but we thought that some of our thinking and the way that we work through and within uncertainty might be helpful for others. So we decided to create a space where we could do this work in a public way. We felt that a blog would allow us to attempt to be thoughtful and smart, but also highlight our humor, our personalities, and our mistakes. We’ve both often felt like the rules of academic writing hampered us, and we wanted to be able to set our own rules for how we present our voices to the world.

We also wanted a space to amplify the work of scholars, thinkers, and activists of color. A friend of Adriana’s has written about the “politics of citation.” Following María Elena Cepeda’s call to cite each other [i.e. scholars of color], this blog is a place where we try to signal boost voices that might not always get heard in academia.

The truth is that we would love to do a podcast like Heben & Tracy–we think our conversations are much more fun when you can hear them–but we both suck at audio editing and have no clue how to produce a podcast. We are in need of the kind of podsquad that they have! If any readers are qualified and want to be part of our podsquad, hit us on the buzz!**

WHY A SHARED BLOG? You might imagine that when we are writing these posts together, we spend tortured hours worrying about word choices and perfect sentences. We don’t.  Instead, our conversations about how to language our ideas are probably some of the most joyful moments of our week. We made a commitment to write together most of the posts because writing together means that we are thinking together. Sharing a blog means that we collaborate, we co-create knowledge, we share experiences and emotions… in other words, we aim to do “transformative scholarship.” As Jigna Desai (one of our sheroes) writes:

What is still missing in our conversations about critical ethnic studies, feminist scholarship, and transformative humanistic projects? Let us talk about how we do our work. Why is it that we talk about decolonization of knowledge and yet perpetuate a cult of celebrity academics and/or fetishize the monograph? Why is it difficult to see collaborations across small and large structures of power as transformative? We must learn to recognize how the subject and the form contribute to decolonizing scholarship. Intentional dialogue, mentoring, and collaborations should not be understood in mathematical formulae that fracture essays into percentages, that divide attributions like pie. We must work to recognize scholars for their larger body of work as the sum greater than its parts. At the end of the day, such a calculus of acknowledgement should not replicate a celebrity or capitalist system that sees knowledge as stemming from the cult of the persona or diminished through collaboration. Instead it must work, to name not only transformative scholarship, but the new forms in which it appears.” (Facebook post, August 25, 2013)

WHY DOWN WITH BROWN? We struggled to come up with a name that was as revolutionary as we feel. We knew that we wanted to center the bodies and experiences of women of color while taking into account the limits of our own bodies and experiences. In her earlier, younger blog, Adriana uses the metaphor of coffee to gesture at experiences of Latinx brownness in the U.S. (Important interjection from Anita: BUT, BUT you love our blog, right??) Of course, the expression “down with” is used to signify alliance and solidarity, as in “down with that.”

(Important interjection from Adriana: OMG, OMG we just found out that we are not down with the phrase “down with the brown,” as defined by urban dictionary!! P.S. On a more serious note, maybe we’ll write a future blog post about what it means to love and live across racial identities.)

Now that you’ve learned about the blog’s origin story, we hope that it helps you understand a bit better where we’re coming from and why we write what and how we write.

** If you don’t know what “podsquad” or “hit us on the buzz” means, you clearly haven’t been listening to enough episodes of Another Round with Heben and Tracy. And you need to remedy that fast!