This past spring, I took a cohort of my students on a college trip to Syracuse to learn more about the school, and the college admissions process in general. During the bus trip up, the general conversation veered towards culture and heritage. Students of myriad backgrounds began gushing about their cultures: each attempting to mention something that would bring their background to the foreground. However one of my kids: a student of mixed origin (Dominican, Irish & Puerto Rican), did not share in this celebration. Instead, she lamented the fact that she was white and therefore culture-less, because she had light skin, blond hair, and couldn’t speak Spanish.
At this point, I interjected myself into the conversation by showing her a picture of Homer Plessy, the black man who challenged the legality of racial segregation. I asked her the race of Plessy, to which she quickly and confidently replied white, though not before rolling her eyes at the incredulity of my question.
The way we are conditioned to see race (a human construct), can separate us from our ancestry and make us feel alone in this world. In my students case, she believed that her physical appearance and cultural knowledge, or lack thereof, precluded any deeper connection to her heritage. For others, that deeper connection isn’t even desired, as they strive to distance themselves from their origin out of shame and misguided self-hatred.
To feel disconnected from ones origin can be debilitating and stifling; it can erode ones sense of past and present self and history, and hinder growth and development into the higher, fully-manifested and realized self. A point of origin is a home–an essential space–particularly for those balancing precariously in the dragons mouth, from which none were meant to survive. (Audre)
But there is agency in enlightenment and truth. And the truth is that we’re all deeply grounded in our ancestors, and each other; perpetually. We are simultaneously nothing and everything. In our isolation, we are a seemingly errant stitch in the tapestry of existence; we are random. And in that randomness, we are alone.
In recognizing our interconnectedness with everyone and thing in the universe, we become whole: we become complete, and thereby capable of living deeply enriching lives, both for ourselves and others, as we recognize that doing for others is simply doing for self. Altruism becomes self-preservation. We become elegant; we become a portion of perfection–perfection in balance, purpose, and function. In recognizing our interconnectedness, we not only gain perspective, we gain purpose, and we gain a home. We become everything.
M U | U R I.