Reflections on our first day — Sindy Morales Garcia
It was only yesterday that we began our journey together in good old AD 30, but we have already processed so much together that it feels like weeks ago. Time flies when you you’re interrogating systems of oppression!
One of the images that I’ve carried with me since yesterday is that of the tree that has become the logo for the Poverty Initiative. I imagine myself sitting beneath the shadow of that ancient tree that has witness the life and death of so many generations. Its rings are uncountable and its roots run deep within the earth, spanning in a complexly interwoven web throughout our mother earth. As I close my eyes and sit still, leaning in to hear this tree share her many stories, I hear the multiple voices in many languages of her innumerable trees, limbs, and roots. Here are the stories of our communities, past and present. Here are the stories of calculated oppression, life and death struggle, and audacious acts of resistance. Here are the stories that will inspire and inform the dreamers and revolutionaries of today. And as I lean in and press my open hands on its trunk, feeling its rough texture beneath my fingers, I am reminded of the importance of knowing my own story. Throughout the last few years discovering, embracing, examining, and challenging the silenced counter-narratives of my community has been a significant part of my life-long journey of liberation and restoration. As I sat in our classroom filled with students who carried with them a rich diversity of communities and narratives, I was reminded of the importance of not privileging the narratives of some communities over others. Everyone has a voice whispered amongst the leaves of humanity’s tree. The systems and structures of oppression, with its deep and complex historical roots, has many long and strong branches, all different manifestations of oppression that have shaped the lived realities of many different communities. But all these branches, though in separate clumps, share the same trunk and roots. So as we sit together, learning how to listen to the stories and wisdom of this tree for our struggle today, my hope is that we can continue to challenge ourselves to expand our thinking beyond the dualistic regionalism of a “black” and “white” U.S. paradigm. Jeff Perry provided us with a wonderful example of such analysis through the work of Theodore Allen. I look forward to engaging with many more voices that continue expand my knowledge of history and understanding of how that has shaped our world today. Some of those voices will be of our ancestors, others of courageous women (yes, let us learn from more women!) and men of history. But the voices I am most excited to hear from are of all of you…yes, you beautiful, intelligent, and profound women and men with whom I have the privilege of learning from and with. I welcome and strive to honor your wisdom, stories, experiences, frustrations, and fears as we sit together underneath the branches of Humanity’s tree, listening to the voices of our ancestors and each other.