Where did we come from? Where are we now? Where are we going? These are questions that inevitably confront immigrants and people of color every day- on the subway, on the street, in our mall, in our workplace, our schools, and our dreams.
Jose Antonio Vargas described it perfectly during his lecture on campus last week when he said that each of us go around our communities and are seen as "a question to be answered, someone to be dealt with, and someone to be accepted.” Talk about chills when someone just affirmed your whole experience with the world in three questions. I couldn't help but be reminded by how often we forget our worth; because how could we not if all people see when they look at us is a question mark?
I also attended the student talk Jose held with students before the lecture. We touched on what it means to respond to the way the world views marginalized folk as questions to be answered and what it means to stand in solidarity with other marginalized groups. In wrapping up the talk, Jose floored me with words that gave me goose bumps that even now I can't truly articulate. "Our crowns have already been paid for by those who came before us-and now we are paying for the crowns of those who will follow us." Now if your heart wasn't lifted or your fingers didn't snap it's because you weren't in the room because those words rang for minutes after he released them. Those words spoke resilience and agency to me. Without agency, without believing we matter and that we belong in this world we will continue to feel ugly about who we are.
Ask yourself what you want every day. Know that you are all still learning who you are as an individual. Ground yourself in knowing you matter and that you count. And no, you don't have to be best friends with the person next to you but love them enough to fight for their liberation, too!
"You have to decide who you are and force the world to deal with you, not its idea of you" -James Baldwin