Dancing with Difference

An Invitation to dream

Each month, I write for a spiritual community here in Nashville, Imaginarium. I curate the MIND Content, which is designed to get us thinking and connect the dots. I thought I’d share my most recent piece of writing with you!

I’m always curious what people think about these MIND Content pieces, so please do ping me back if you get a chance!

I don’t know about you, but I am just emerging from the last year and ½ of being tethered to my house, not seeing anyone, and trying my best to be engaged with the world around me. And, what I see around me is a world desperately trying to sit and hold all of the complexities that have surfaced or been unveiled in this last year and ½. 

Can you feel it? Can you see it? 

The First Day of May is the Festival of St. Joseph, the Worker, and it is also the day that marks the beginning of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. May 1, 2021 was not only a day to honor workers, but also Derby Day in Kentucky, AND it was the start of a month of cultural and ethnic heritage for our Asian siblings. These three events that mark the month of May signal to us all that we have more work to do!

Can you feel it? Can you see it?

Most of the workers in this country come from marginalized backgrounds, ethnicities that haven’t been given the same opportunities as those of us with such rich privileges. I include myself in that. My Mexican heritage comes directly from my mother’s side of the family and she instilled in me a work ethic that demanded I use education as my way out of poverty and all the varying systems that were keeping us down. So, there is a connection here between marginalized backgrounds and ethnicities and class struggle, including workers’ rights. You might wonder why it’s important to mention that here when I began this piece starting with language of emergence and surfacing after being sequestered during this pandemic, which, I might add, continues. Let me explain!

Our struggle in these specific moments is to see more clearly and have a felt sense of what is actually happening. That’s why I’m asking this iterative and emergent question of ‘can you feel it?’ And, ‘can  you see it?’ 

If we depend on each month to be a book mark of celebration for those who have been counted as appendices to our world and culture, then we miss the chance to see and feel the magic of each person. We end up reserving February for Black folks, March for women, and May for our Asian American and Pacific Islander siblings. What if we practiced the politics of radical difference each and every day and explore the magic of each person, the essences that create such difference in our world and culture? What if we practiced having a felt sense of what it is like to be a day-laborer, to be a migrant from a country that is war-torn, and to be continually pushed aside because of the ways our faces are shaped or how our accent sounds? What if? 

Can you feel it? Can you see it?

If we worked to build the kind of magical community whose point of departure is the politics of radical difference, we would emerge as a community en conjunto -- a community that practices a profound dance of togetherness. Now can you feel it? And, can you see it? 

Our AAPI communities have suffered so much this last year and ½, from being blamed for Coronavirus to the senseless violence in Atlanta that took the lives of 8 folks, 6 of which were Asian American. Many of our AAPI siblings are day-laborers and part of the working class, so when we fight for workers’ rights, we need to remember the least of these, the ones who have traveled here to be a part of a dream they could not dream in their own land. Our responsibility is to extend a magical hand to them in friendship, loyalty, and compassion, so that the least of these can have a chance at dancing in our profound dance of togetherness.

Can you feel it? Can you see it?

If not, remember that our collective imagination has been so policed that manifold harms of oppression have emerged, as a result. And, begin to imagine a community of radical difference; begin to imagine extending your hand in solidarity with the other; begin to dance as if you can feel it and see it. My invitation is to be iterative and emergent, for we will not eradicate all that harms us without iterative and emergent practices that expand our capacities and awareness. 

Let US be the healing of the wounds…