30 day/30 minute (minimum) writing practiceExploring Our Stories for the Work AheadGrateful to be with my Mama in Ottawa. As the years go by learning more and more of her story. Born second generation Italian. Never taught her ancestral language. My grandparents came when they were children and grew up in a time where fitting in was a means of surviving discrimination and prejudice. Accumulating wealth was a means of escaping the imprint of poverty from small southern rural village of Figline Vegliaturo, Calabria Italy. Fitting in meant changing last names (cause you could do that with fair skin) and letting go of one’s language/culture. Comfortable meant subscribing to the sort of wealth associated with happiness which meant finding a sense of belonging in a white heteronormative capitalist world by subscribing to the white dominant culture.
Gabor Mate’s title of his book, Realm of the Hungry Ghost comes to mind when I think of my moms story, when I think of how spiritually, emotionally, mentally hungry folks must have been after arriving to a foreign land and buying into a way of life that eventually became intoxicating the more whiteness was adapted and internalized. I can only imagine and I also feel in my own bones, a deep inherent longing for community, a way of being left behind. I have often wondered how my Irish and Italian ancestors overcame the brutal poverty they came from only to witness others suffer in a system that depended on a ladder of oppression, needed a subordinate caste to oppress in order for for others to rise. Did they turn their gaze? Did they thank their blessings and believe hard work alone was their ticket through? Was there an ancestral amnesia when witnessing the struggle of folks on the lower rungs of the ladder? Did they, will they, will we one day realize the white dominant culture they/we pledged an alliance to did not protect them/us from babies dying, sons with mental illness, attempted suicides, wives full up on grief they stopped mothering; inevitable depression traversing inner landscapes denied, buried, repressed. Unveiling that kind of mental, emotional, spiritual trauma; revealing an imperfect façade may cause the primitive corners of our brains to fear excommunication, death. It may mean succumbing to a life of oppression like those they were pitted against in the first place, Black Indigenous and Folks of Color, racism being the weapon of capitalist imperialist systems.
I realize more and more how important it is for us white bodied folks to know our histories so that we can cultivate stronger foundation to the work of antiracism, if we can understand the larger historical context/story we are living through and from then we could come to the work of building multi-racial/cultural coalitions in order to reimagine and co create cultures of peace and belonging and attention and intention and love and freedom for all.
Thanks dear Mama and the ancestors for being a catalyst to this piece of writing on day 6 of this 30 minute (minimum) writing practice. i am learning to cultivate a stronger foundation for the work ahead.