Reflections


naspa diamond

Author
Briana Stansbury

Published
September 11, 2017


It feels timely and heart wrenching to be writing an opinion piece about mixed-race identity right now. My soul feels heavy after the tragic events that transpired in Charlottesville. This event has rippled across the country, trailing behind it a heavy cloud of inquiry and fear, of anger and deep, sleepless, sadness. That sadness, for me, has felt inconsistent – some days it’s a right angle deep in my side, poking all the tender identities I hold. Other days it’s circular and overwhelming and outside of me – too big to feel containable. I’ve spent time finding my people to help hold these angles, to let these feelings of anger, fear, inquiry and sadness be circular and overwhelming and outside of me. I’m hopeful that you have been able to find spaces in these last few weeks, these last few months, to feel as wholly as you need to.

Before I enter this piece, before I begin to talk about the focal point of this editorial, I first have to honor all of you in this moment and always, for doing all of the uncompromising, emotional labor of people of color in this America.

I realize that I need to root myself in a moment in my history. So we’re moving backwards together, to the 80s. My parents were married in 1987, which was just 20 short years after the pivotal Supreme Court case “Loving v. Virginia” that made interracial marriage legal across the United States. My parents are courageous people. They operate full-heartedly. Which is to say with hearts completely full. In the face of protest and prejudice, in the face of true opposition and challenge, my parents dedicated themselves to equity, compassion, and justice. They chose love.

I have to start there. Because feminist theorist bell hooks tells us that the most radical thing we can do in this world is learn to love each other, especially in the face of opposition. And my personal proclivity to move through the world with an ethos of compassion is, in part, their residual effect.  I call on hooks and my parent’s dedication to love daily as I operate in the classroom or in the workplace.

I should say that I am in no way propagating ideologies like loving Trumps hate etc. I in no way believe that loving institutionalized racism/bigotry/white supremacy is acceptable. I turn to love in my community, in my partner, in myself and choose avenues to continue to build compassion within my communities. I choose to follow Audre Lorde’s expert advice “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

I work in equity work, which is a conversation with students about racism at 11 am followed promptly by a deconstruction of how the etymology of the word “resiliency” is tied to a militarized state. Light conversations. I bear witness to students processes, help tease out how systems of oppression interlock, and offer resources. It is work laden with challenge and tension and discomfort. It is work laden with curiosity, depth, and tangibility. And, what feels most important to me, is it is also work laden with love.

In the last few months I have felt the tensions of the political climate percolate through the institutions I have worked at. Whether these percolations are sharp bias related incidents or off-the-cuff microaggressions (that typically feel so incredibly macro). In the face of the hatred and fear that has been rippling through our campuses, I’m so proud and honored to work with incredible students, staff, and faculty to create avenues for community members to feel heard, affirmed, and supported. I’ve been honored and humbled to sit in vulnerability and love with my fellow community members during these moments of tension.

It feels timely and heart wrenching to be writing an opinion piece about mixed-race identity right now. My soul feels heavy after the tragic events that transpired in Charlottesville. This event has rippled across the country, trailing behind it a heavy cloud of inquiry and fear, of anger and deep, sleepless, sadness. That sadness, for me, has felt inconsistent – some days it’s a right angle deep in my side, poking all the tender identities I hold. Other days it’s circular and overwhelming and outside of me – too big to feel containable. I’ve spent time finding my people to help hold these angles, to let these feelings of anger, fear, inquiry and sadness be circular and overwhelming and outside of me. We are experiencing the tension of a community responding to parts of itself that are insidious. In the face of this I hope you are allowing yourself to feel as full-heartedly, as wholly, as you need.  

Briana Stansbury is the Interim Assistant Coordinator of the Women's Resouce Center as PCC Cascade Campus.


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