Ready to Build Tomorrow’s World

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I wrote the post below before I knew about the devastating mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Before I knew at least 19 babies and 2 teachers were murdered. I am a Texan and Latinx immigrant mama. When I saw photos this morning, I sobbed uncontrollably in my bathroom. I saw the faces of kids I grew up with. I saw the faces of my cousins. I saw the faces of my daughter’s friends. 

Dropping off my daughter at school today, holding her tightly and trying to ease her worry before she left my side this morning is a feeling I know many parents have felt today — a profound sense of loss, sadness, anger and the need to both comfort and be honest with our children as they try to process what has happened. Today is hard.

Although the words below were written only days before under different circumstances, the sentiment remains the same. When I looked out my daughter’s window this morning, on our back porch I saw the day lilies I potted last year have started to bloom. I thought to myself, mother nature reminding me that beautiful things remain in this world even when I am in deep struggle. Hope will bloom again.

Ready to Build Tomorrow’s World 

I am struggling with hope. 

After 2.5 years, I finally got COVID. As soon as I tested positive, all I wanted to do was to prevent my daughter from getting it from me. We tried our best, but I am a single parent and five days later she tested positive. We are both vaxxed and boosted, so our symptoms were mild, which I am grateful for. Even though I knew getting COVID was inevitable and not my fault, I felt guilt and shame.

The same day I tested positive, I was doom scrolling on Twitter and came across the Politico article with the leaked draft memo for the Dobbs v. Jackson case which will determine the future of Roe v. Wade and whether people will have access to abortion healthcare. I was already not in a good place and I started to spiral. I was sad AND angry.

I wasn’t sad and angry by the news. The leaked memo simply confirmed what we already knew. I felt these emotions because collectively we did not heed the warning signs that have been coming for decades and failed to take proactive action. This leaked memo isn’t just about abortion — it is about every freedom and liberty we have been fighting for since this experiment of democracy began. 

Listen, I have been heartened by the activism and mobilization over the last few weeks. But while we have been fighting defense and playing on our opposition’s terms, we have failed to deliver an alternative vision for the people, the larger majority of this country who are aligned with our values.  

And then Buffalo happened. I had to have another conversation with my daughter about racialized violence after a white supremacist targeted the Black community and killed ten people. I had to promise her that she is safe when I know that she can’t go to a grocery store, church, school, or any public place where some people won’t see her as a threat. I am the one to calm her righteous anger. I know we will have this conversation again. I was falling into despair.

I have been doing this for more than two decades but that is just my professional activism. I have been fighting for my family, my people, myself for much longer. I am tired. The constant disappointment by the institutions and people in power is making me numb. I try to be hopeful. I look for the beautiful and joy-filled moments each day. I know in my heart of hearts that brighter days are on the road ahead. The sadness, anger, and disappointment compounded and all I could see was darkness. 

At BISC’s May board meeting I shared a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “Hope is being able to see the light, despite all the darkness.” During that meeting, I shared another quote from Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast on finding joy in the middle of struggle. Brené’s guest, Karen Walrond, author of The Lightmaker’s Manifesto said: “I will never apologize for embracing joy and beauty – even when the world is falling apart – because joy and beauty are my fuel for activism.”  The board met the week of the leaked memo and I shared these quotes to remind ourselves of the importance of hope. After Buffalo happened, I listened to the podcast again and reread Archbishop Tutu’s words because I needed to dip back into my well of hope and joy.

So I reminded myself, hope and joy require relentless practice. I told myself to take a deep breath, wipe away a tear, and said, this too shall pass. You can feel joy and pain at the same time. You can have hope and despair – it is what you do next that matters.

Activist Yuri Kochiyama said: “Tomorrow’s world is yours to build.” As an activist and organizer, I work to build a world that does not yet exist but we all deserve. Where my daughter can live as a free Black girl. The weight is heavy but I know it also does not only lie on my shoulders. So despite the despair I am feeling, what gives me hope is that BISC is ready for this moment and the long struggle ahead. 

We have a solid foundation. We have a strong team. We have clarity in our mission and vision. We are working to ensure people can run equitable and winning campaigns in 2022 AND we are addressing movement-wide challenges so we can build a sustainable ecosystem that works together to build tomorrow’s world. A world where elders can grow old. A world where people have autonomy over their bodies. A world where workers are valued for their humanity. A world where every person is free to exist, belong, and be loved as they are. 

It is in these moments that are overwhelming, where darkness feels like it is closing in, when hope is absolutely necessary to help us move forward. 

We have an opportunity to demand and design a democracy that encompasses the myriad of issues that not only impact people’s daily lives but are drivers for our people to feel like they have the agency to create and build something for themselves.

BISC is ready to meet these moments and build the world of tomorrow.