Open Heart Surgery

Last week I had open heart surgery at the Facing Race Conference in Baltimore http://colorlines.com/facing-race-2012/.   I was in serious danger of having a White supremacy -related cardiac arrest. The daily stress of race related slights, ignorant remarks, and racial stereotypes in the news, on TV, and in my daughter’s classroom were taking their toll.  The unhealthy diet of  judging my beauty against the norm, of basing “good, “right”, and “true” on “White”, of wishing for a new nose, different hair, eyes, lips clogged arteries. The pressure to be a strong bridge across the racial divide was pushing the damaged muscle to its breaking point. The everyday news of injustice, inequity, and the needless suffering of people of color,  people of gender,  people of difference,  people, was sapping my will to resist the oncoming collapse.

And then I stepped in to Facing Race.  Rinku Sen, editor of Colorlines magazine and executive director of Applied Research Center (ARC), hosts of the conference, stepped on stage.  I was breathing heavy. I was walking slowly with the weight, pain radiating.

Rinku Sen was the first responder.

“Transformative is what I am after. I don’t want to reverse the racial hierarchy. I want to take it apart. I want to change the course of human evolution.”

A jolt went through me.

“We are so well equipped to do this. We are such good strategists. We know how to run campaigns. We do this work with so much heart, and so much humor. We have so much resilience. We can survive anything. We can do this. We can take the country and the world closer to a new humanity.”

The weight began to ease inside me.

“If we do our part, then our kids will do their part. And their kids will do the next part and the next kids after that will do more. I am counting on you to do this with me…Our ancestors demand it. The dead demand it. The living demand it. And we can answer them, if we stand together. We can set the path for true human liberation. We must start today. I know that together, we will get there. “

I was revived, still damaged, still in pain, but ready to live, ready to fight, ready to be healed.  There is so much more to tell.  The power of the speakers, dancers, comedians, artists, children, elders, changed me. All the faces together facing the madness that is White supremacist, patriarchal, heterosexist, ableist, classist hierarchical lifted me up.  That weekend, my chest was opened up. Years of toxins were released. New connections were built.  I was transformed. I was ready to walk the liberation path again.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Sharon Wasco said,

    November 28, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you Aarati for making me feel goosebumps today. On November 19th, I had a terrible FB interaction with someone over MA Governor D. Patrick signing a policy allowing DREAMers to pay in-state tuition at UMass systems. Today, 9 days later, and I am STILL playing out the conversation in my head and arguing with unknown foes (so many of them out there). The hardest thing is how pointless it can seem to even try to change generations of a narrow zero-sum mindset. I take these words as a reminder that it is not pointless.

    • November 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      Sharon – I am glad my experience can be, if not a kind of open heart surgery, perhaps a balm for the wounds we incurr fighting for what we know is the future we must bring about. Glad we are all doing it together.


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