We are in the process of working towards making a powerful space for both autonomy and interdependence.
As I’ve said before, and I will say it once more, I’m proud of us for doing the work. I’m thankful to the women that came before us who built the foundation for this work. It is because of pioneering feminists and womanists that we now know that being healthy means tending to our unique needs as both individuals and whole communities.
Here WE Go…
How do we meet the needs of individuals while meeting the needs of the community as a whole?
Many of us who mother human beings have familiarity with this through our kids, if not through our biology classes from childhood. Reminders to new parents about certain diseases your children should be tested for are in a lot of parenting magazines, books, etc…..(I think this was a section in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting?) I recall that one of my favorite teachers, my middle school biology teacher, suffered with this condition.
So, 10+ years later, when my son was born premature, I knew that he had to be tested for sickle-cell anemia at some point. Sickle cell is an ethnic based genetic disease that primarily strikes Black people. When I asked about it, his pediatric nurse quickly reassured me that all babies are tested for sickle cell.
Cool. Even better.
Still, as he was growing up, I did always wonder if they tested him for other ethnic based genetic diseases?
Everybody immediately involved in his creation identifies as Black, and is Black. But, technically, my mother and a few of her siblings are multi-racial.
What if ……?
Depending on your own lived experience, you may think all of this is small and nonconsequential. But fast forward 20+ years later and I am getting an eye exam. I’m a middle aged Black woman. I ask them to screen for a genetic disease that runs in our family. My mother has it.
The optometrist: “Really your mother has that? That diesease usually strikes people with a Mediterranean backgroud? Is your mother Mediterranean?”
“Well she’s Black but…….”
I give her this look.
She appears to be Asian but she knows what I mean right away-Black, slavery, rape-who knows?
People are more vulnerable to some diseases because of genetics, circumstances, crimes, and situations that had nothing to do with us.
We got all this stuff from somewhere.
How do we acknowledge our differences but still acknowledge that in so many ways we are the same?
How do we maintain unity while acknowledging that we are individuals with different needs, rights, obstacles, struggles, cultures, histories, origins and privileges?
How do we come together in our extremely different but similiar groups of-faith, marital status, age, neighborhood, race, interests, political affiliation, obstacles etc…-without someone else feeling excluded?
How can I be uniquely me and still represent alllllllllll these other groups that I share characteristics with?
As the oldest of three, I thought all this was over when as a teen I found myself explaining to my Sissy and BroBro, that my need to do things with people my age didn’t ever mean that they weren’t my first best friends in life. I was going to come back. Always. Every time.
Everywhere where there are human beings, this struggle exists…….in families, marriages, communities, churches, religions, counties, countries, states, races, ethnicities, genders, and yes…..sexes. There, I said it, again.
Learning to Trust the Fight
As I reflect the many struggles in human rights movements right now, something comes to mind.
Like many Survivors, I struggled with trusting myself and others. Many years ago a wonderful therapist summed it up this way.
We all learn to trust the same way. She shared that one reason that babies enjoy playing peek-a-boo is because it is teaching them trust. A person goes away. A person comes back.
Babies could play this game all day long and still laugh like it’s their first time.
It is fascinating to all of us as human beings.
You learn to trust by watching behavior. Under non-traumatic circumstances, we all learn to trust this people this way. People leave but people come back. If someone goes away and comes back in a timely and consistent fashion, you learn to trust them.
If you as a someone struggling to overcome -addiction, negative learned behavior, old damaging patterns- keep finding your way back to wellness and functionality, you learn to trust yourself. You will find your way back to being someone you recognize again.
WE Will Be Back
So now I’m thinking, we have to be compassionate with one another and remind ourselves to let people know: “I love you.” AND “I do NEED to go away and be encircled by people with similar characteristics, obstacles, pain, and lived experiences.
I NEED that to heal. I NEED that to be whole. I NEED that to be healthy. I NEED that to help me soldier on.
I will not be in able to be a part of any “Formation” unless my individual needs are met too.”
AND, “I will be back. I will be back more healthy. I will be back stronger. I will be back with more lessons. I will be back.”
People need their own separate spaces for healing, validation, and growth. People also need to feel that they are a part of the “one”.
People need each other.
People need themselves. The challenge before us now is the same challenge that has vexed humanity since the very beginning. My hope is that this brings us hope, peace, and comfort.
Finally, female genital mutilation, impacts people born female. People born female need us to be aware, prevent, and protect them from this. Whoever we are, know that when we take time to speak & fight against this issues, we will be back. Whoever is not impacted by this “particular” heinous violence, FGM, we will be back.
We will be back because no innocent human being on this earth should suffer violence. We will be back.
Even when I work to support another separate and individual battle, I will be back.
We will be back.