Our check in this morning revealed that with the momentum picking up for the new year many of us are beginning to feel overwhelmed with our daily responsibilities.There was a sense of feeling unbalanced within our roles, school, work, and personal lives. As a group we thought it would be best to center ourselves and practice mindfulness and meditation before diving into the discussion for today. We practiced an excerpt of a 21 day meditation series called Black Feminist Breathing Chorus , which focuses on a guided meditation lead by Alexis Pauline Gumbs. Each meditation day is inspired by the legacies of black feminist thinkers, writers and activist. We meditated to day two which features Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks and the affirmation highlighted from this episode was, “I have hopes for myself.”
We planned to take time to discuss and debrief the 23andMe DNA ancestry results because a majority of the group received their results and were eager to process. We took turns going around and asking “what has changed about how we see ourselves after our results” or “what questions we have about the results?” For those who did not get their results back they shared experiences they have had with instances of prejudice around the nuances of race/ethnicity/nationality.The following are the responses from the group:
Ashley- Which box do I check off on legal documents or surveys since I’m 75.8% Native American? I don’t have to check off the white box under the category for race but do I have that privilege to check off Native on the boxes? I want to continue to learn more about the indigenous side of my family.
Pedro- While filling out border card to go from O’Hare to London during my recent study abroad trip,I filled out my nationality as Latino/Hispanic on some paperwork and the TSA agent aggressively crossed out my selection and told me, “NO, you’re AMERICAN!” I didn’t want to argue so he can get on my flight safely without being detained.
Annisa- When I shared my results with my parents my father teased her about having 33% Native American ancestry and about continued on how I inherited that ancestry from my mother’s side.
Lucas- Receiving my results inspired me to travel to Spain and Italy more!
Roxy- Uncovering that her grandmother isn’t my “maternal” grandmother and now I’m trying to discover the stories and rumors about her papers being fake or stolen might be true.
Brittany- I am trying to understand where Native American identity fits into my own identity? I find it so weird that I come from Europe/Spain when ethnically I am from the islas like Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. How can I be both?
Austin-I think we construct our own identity but also we honor our families and ancestors. I have learned so much about who I am from my mother and am starting to understand how these identities intersect.
Emma- I’m feeling overwhelmed and processing these fresh results still.
Juliet- Reclaiming African diasporic identity is helping me counter the anti-blackness within my family and also to accept that I am mezitaze and how mixed my own heritage is.
We ended our meeting to a quick field trip down the street to visit Hairpin Arts Center, for their latest guest installation called, For the People Art Collective “DO NOT RESIST? 100 Years of Chicago Police Violence.” We had a private tour curated for our group around the different exhibit art pieces that addressed Chicago Police Brutality over the last 100 years. Art that was represented from as early as the 1919 Chicago Race Riots to #BlacklivesMatters demonstration photography from the last few years. I also spotted a photo of my fellow LSNA Youth Organizing colleague Lili with her five year old daughter at a #BlacklivesMatters protest we attended with a group of Youth leaders during the summer of 2016.
It is important to remind ourselves why projects such as Brown in Chicago wants to explore notions of race, identity, decolonization, and power structures. These are the social constructions our society is informed by and how we navigate throughout our communities. This art installation reminds us that our history and engagement with Policing and Prison Industrial Complex is perpetuated are sustained by racism and violence. What we can do to not continue to engage within these structures is to truly take time to reflect within ourselves what privileges we benefit from and may take for granted. While challenging how to hold ourselves accountable to not be a bystander to inequalities that are as subtle as a micro-aggression’s or inequity within institutionalized spaces.