Holy winter break batman. When the kids are off from school, I barely have any physical space to myself, let alone mental space to process things out via typed text. In the space I occupy with my daughters, this space between Egypt, Libya, Puerto Rico, Bahrain, Algeria and Yemen, I have woken up on many mornings wondering how, what do we tell/show our children about movement(s), justice, and responsibility?
In the space I occupy with my children somewhere between Egypt, Puerto Rico, Libya, Bahrain y Algeria, in the same country as Arizona, Mississippi and Wisconsin, they bear witness from afar. And when I speak of my children, I am not just speaking of my biological daughters but of the community who sit almost daily at my mother’s kitchen table. I read aloud from the news. Pull out maps and point to these places.
My children are movement children. You can ask my mom and sister, who still laugh at the fact that La Mapu’s first full sentence was “No Justice, No peace”. Poroto, has traded in her “si se puedes” for “Egypt, Egypt, Egypt”. La Mapu has taken a renewed interest in one of her patrias, Puerto Rico, one afternoon surprising me by asking aloud from my mother’s living room as she watched cartoons, “how do the liberation struggles in the Middle East translate to the student struggles in Puerto Rico?”
I nearly cried with pride.
While she fought with her sister on the floor of Julia de Burgos in El Barrio, I noted she argued because she wanted to pay attention. She was watching the videos I have been watching and reporting on for months, of Puerto Rican students getting beaten, tear gassed and sexually assaulted. She was paying attention, on her own terms.
I stopped forcing la Mapu to meetings, conferences and rallies as soon as she was old enough to stay a few hours by herself but she can’t escape that this is the world we live in, impacting loved ones, some whom she has met, some whom she knows through their blogs and twitter avatars. Last night, she cried over the dead in Libya and all I could do was hold her.
But what of the children who are left unaware as I was as a child. When I woke up at age 16 and suddenly realized I had been lied to about history and my role in it, I felt angry, betrayed and motivated. My life has never been the same.
I am participating in an event as a story teller in a local museum in a few weeks. The theme is art and activism. How do I talk with children who don’t witness and navigate these spaces on a daily basis or are like those Central Park horses with their eyes fixed on the tiny camino in front of them, blind to the rest of the world around them that they stand in the middle of?
I have never lied to my children about the struggles that exist in this world. Some of them they experience on their own, some of them through my work/life. But what of the children who are shielded? How to hold their hand slowly, open their eyes slowly so they are not afraid but awakened?
That is the question that has been waking me up for weeks.
I welcome answers/suggestions.