“My activism is informed by my belief in Christ…”
Jill’s voice trails off, and I think about that. Me too, I want to say. And it’s true.
It wasn’t a Moses-and-the-burning-bush moment that brought me to what I feel my life calling is; it was violent and quiet all at once. It was Homeland Security and the sermon on the mount. It was a Christ who empowered the disenfranchised. To me, wanting to be like Jesus is fighting the good fight. I believe in Christ goes the song. I truly do.
But it is always so exhausting to feel like my two worlds never quite meet- like some venn diagram, where the circles wish to touch, but don’t ever get to. On one hand, I have a world with Nancy and Carlos and scores of others, where I talk to people who print my words or try to bedazzle their manure and feed it to me (holler at you SEP & PRI officials!).
It always comes as a surprise that I’m a Mormon.
Really? the question goes. Yes, really. I go to church, and read about Jesus and cry at songs. Easter is my favorite. I like going to Christmas mass (not a Mormon thing, but you know, you borrow things here and there). I swear, and I am imperfect. I am a really shoddy example of what a good Mormon should be by Ensign standards, but my Heavenly Parents are happy with me, and that is what matters.
The other circle, the Mormon one, where I feminist and talk about race, and disabled, and LGBTQ* rights is contained in its own circle. I have wanted to talk immigration with the same degree of passion and significance that I do here, in Mexico (and in the U.S. through Skype). And yet. I can’t move past the sheer basics to be seen as a full woman even in the circles that “claim” me as one.
It’s heart breaking for me, that I feel my worlds so divided- that my heart has to go from being a cathedral to being a damn trapper keeper. I look at all the (very white) Mormon women afforded an activism that is whole in that sense- one that isn’t divided and highlighted and neatly organized. The ones allowed to make mistakes and come in like bulls into delicate glass knick knack shops. I am envious.
I wish so much, with all my heart to some day have a world where the children of my life can be their whole selves, face in the sunshine and not fractioned pieces of themselves; but how can I hope for that world when I am limited in my humanity? I have asked myself so many questions these last few weeks, in terms of my anger and my love and the way I approach things. I have felt myself slice, fractions of myself at a time, to fit in filing cabinets that may be easily read by those whose whole activism just tells me I am angry.
I wish I could say I did this out of some heroic quality in me, but I’d be lying. I did it for the love of women who I’ve (mostly) never met, and who I’ve seen sacrifice and go through so much, the exemplary women of color, the Samoan, Mexican, New Zealander, Colombian, Uruguayan, Salvadorian, Brazilian, Costa Rican, Bi-National women of my life. I figure, I could contribute by being divided.
I have seen as (mostly white) women get afforded the privilege to dictate how I pursue my activism in both my immigrant and Mormon Feminist circles, and I am tired.
I am tired of being asked to give more by those who would forget me, who would see my story distorted so that others could tell theirs comfortably. I am tired of being deemed demanding for simply wanting a space where I am allowed my feelings. I am tired of wanting to build a safe community, only to be told it must be in the terms of the privileged, and not at all on mine. I am tired of being painted as angry, and spiteful, or being told that I hurt way too much, of having to coddle and accommodate and most of all of the people who claim they love me but would forget me, or twist me or ask me to be a a grain of sand when I am an ocean.
I don’t know how much of a high road this isn’t, and who knows who will tag it as another weepy diatribe to roll their eyes at. This is not for you.
I am not angry. I do not owe you my story on your terms, and I most definitely do not owe you my time, my effort or my kindness. I am not demanding for expecting more friends than Jesus or for asking that the communities I love and fight for build slow and healthy bridges, not shoddy ones that happen overnight.
Maybe it is too much to hope for.