After you make you list of top worst fears take a moment. Don’t judge the fear. It’s yours. Own it. The only way to confront it is to name it and give it the weight your life, heart and actions have placed on it.
Let’s remember how many courageous people have come before us in their times who faced their greatest fear head on–they cleared a path for us. Our task now, is to keep it clear for those who follow. Those younger individuals on the planet who don’t realize that what they inherited was not a result of the failure of the elders of their communities but a debt to the elders’ courage still have a lot to learn. Were it not for the leaders–of the Civil Rights Movements, AIM, Chicano Movement, Feminists of the 70s and Xicanas of the 70s and 80s, imagine the world you might have inherited instead. A few leaders make a great deal of difference but the world isn’t mandated by a handful of fierce women or POC who bravely and unselfishly give up their lives for the benefit of their communities but by the 1%, by white supremacy, by mediocre middle class aspirations and by the droneish attitude of the working class that generally feels it’s enough to get by.
Those of my generation and those of any generation anywhere in the world who gave up the comforts and securities of regular paychecks, nice family lifestyles in cul-de-sacs and approval of the world around them didn’t turn the world around. We made ‘strides,’ changed laws, attitudes–but the world remained patriarchal and the heir of patrimonial and colonial attitudes. We did enough–something, at least–to make it just a little easier for POC and women coming up to pick up the machete and continue to clear the path.
Still, those few of us who took up the torch did it with convictions and verve. We did it with pride in our inheritance and devotion for our elders–meaning our parents’ generation or grandparents. Our ancestors were people who had gone on from this life.
We remembered the servitude and slavery of not just Africans brought to the Americas & Caribbean but as much the indigenous people already there whose blood now flows prominently through our veins. Those of us–using my term, Xicanistas–who understand women’s struggle– connect with all women everywhere in this struggle against being perceived as subsidiary human beings. In the words of the writer, thinker, speaker, actress Maya Angelous…
And Still I Rise
by Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.