The Importance of “Staying Rooted” in These Times
By Irene Sanchez (Xicana Ph.D.)
Remembering who I am has meant for me to remember my roots. Our roots are what hold us steady no matter what may come our way. They remind us to keep growing up and if we need a reminder of how strong we are, we can kneel down to remember there are lessons in the ground we stand and walk upon. Inside of these veins contain years of experiences, including memories of those who came before us reminding that we are always stronger than we think we are.
I present a number of writing workshops, but most recently this past week at UCLA and in April at a conference called Adelante Mujer Latina in Pasadena, CA, I present a workshop with the same name as this post “staying rooted”.
Both of these recent experiences reminded me how important our stories are. How important it is to be in community. How important it is to speak. I am reminded daily how important remembering who we are is on a day to day.
You are my other me.
In my classroom I have a wide range of students with different life experiences. Many have gone through and continue to struggle with difficulties, losses, and challenges, but I also see and share the joy that arises from knowing and taking pride in oneself. The slow awakening of a part of them that has been made to feel ashamed, erased, degraded, and unimportant. That is part of the hope of Ethnic Studies in our schools is to instill a sense of pride and empowerment that students will hold their heads a little higher with the knowledge that they are the ones we have been waiting for.
We are also the ones because we are still here and have a responsibility to our communities. We can’t forget who we are or where we come from or think just because we have degrees or are holders of keys to gates that were locked previously that we must lock out everyone else or that somehow it makes us better, more deserving. It doesn’t. We can not buy into a system that is deceptive or upholds meritocracy. That some are deserving and some are not. That is not how this is supposed to work. In a society where legacies of violence against Latinx/Mexican people in the Southwest, we are reminded this week that some things haven’t changed. From 45 stating that immigrants are animals, to racists in NYC shaming people from speaking Spanish, to so much more on a weekly basis, daily basis now. How can one remember who they are when for centuries we have been called and made to believe we are less than?
I am often angry by the events occurring constantly. I was asked during one workshop recently what I do with that anger. I admitted that yes, sometimes I still get stuck. Sometimes though I get so angry I cry. I let myself now. I figure that it isn’t always a bad thing to hold in my hand, bury it in the ground beneath me, let it compost and feed the ground I walk upon. It is possible for it to come out different, as something like what you read today. I write. It becomes something I grew, only because I held on to what gave me strength. That for me means being unapologetically myself, a Xicana, a mama, an educator, a writer, a poet, a mujer who is not afraid anymore to proclaim, yes I am here. I am here. I am here. You are too and these roots that hold us all here remind us who we are in times where the powers that be attempt to decide for us. We say no more.
No more lies. No more injustice. No more. We decide now.