Aftermath, Soul Searching

Friends, like so many of you, I have been stunned, disoriented, angry, furious, heartbroken, terrified these past few days. I was harassed on the bus on Wednesday morning, targeted for my ethnicity and gender, while I was speaking to a friend, as articulately as I could about what we all woke up to.

I have been overwhelmed. I have been outraged. I have felt untethered.

And yet. And now.

This will not be a cliché about what my students are teaching me. This will not be one of those posts about mitigation or reductive optimism.

My grounding is in my family, those I love; and my grounding is in my work, doing what I love.

In my family, where experiencing the loss of my father, we have reinforced with one another the value of humanity, compassion, comfort, dignity.

As a worker in a place where advocacy, access, activism, and social justice are built into my everyday work, in concrete and measurable ways.

As an educator in both public and private institutions, where knowledge, illumination/enlightenment, wisdom, agency, social justice, elevating and centering our people’s epistemologies, are my frameworks.

As a writer and author who is Pinay and marginalized, fighting for voice, presence, visibility, respect, self-determination.

I have been working for a long time, beyond exhaustion, beyond despair.

Practicing kapwa, practicing Pinayism as best I can.

I wonder whether all of this suffices to considered praxis.

I am not always gentle. In fact, gentle would probably be one of the last words any of you would ever think to describe me. I am hard. I am critical. I see people now, triggered, activated, outraged. I am glad for this, but part of me also wants to yell. Work has always been necessary, and urgent. Our humanity, our safety have always been threatened. We have always been suffering injustice. Long before This. Long after This.

I have been thinking more about Social Justice, which has always been implicit, an undercurrent in my teaching, due in part to my few years of teaching in a Jesuit institution. I am thinking about Social Justice more and more, the fact that I have never done any committed study or reading on it. That I should. That perhaps it would provide more focus and clarity on the work that must be done, on the work that I must continue doing. I am not so sure where to start except to acknowledge that I cannot take for granted that the work of Social Justice is indeed committed work. I see some Jesuits call it “helping souls.” Some call it a “radical giving of oneself to others.” And am I doing enough of that. Has my exhaustion rendered me incapable of this.

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