A Love Letter to My Sister in the Trump Era

To my dear sister in the struggle,

The past week has been tough and you don’t remember ever feeling this way. Yes, you’ve been discriminated against before—often. You’ve had your heart broken by this country many times. You stopped believing in American exceptionalism years ago. You became disillusioned and disenchanted with the American Dream long before this election cycle began. But you’ve never felt this helpless. You’ve never felt this hopeless. You can’t explain why it’s different now. You don’t have to.

“We’ve survived worse,” some tell you in a failed attempt to comfort you. But you know better. You know many of your ancestors didn’t survive European colonialism. Or (neo)imperialism. Or conquest. Or slavery. Or genocide. Or the U.S. backed coups that made your uncle go missing, that wiped all traces of him from this earth, that now counts him among the thousands of desaparecidos. You know your people are still suffering and they are still dying. Who will survive in Amerikka?

“We have to unite behind him, now,” they’ll say, “There’s no other way.” But you, hermana, you pray in the church of Assata Shakur, who said, “Nobody in history has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” You stand behind those words now more than ever. Assata and Angela taught you. You know “freedom is a constant struggle” and you’ve been struggling your entire life. You refuse to forget Audre’s words: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” This is who you choose to unite behind, your sisters in the struggle: the forgotten, the discarded, the dispossessed, the disenfranchised, the least respectable, the most vulnerable.

In the last week, you’ve heard variations of “Don’t mourn; organize” and “Crying will not change anything” more times than you can count. You’ve been told to feel less and (re)act more. The same people policing your emotions and condemning your (alleged) inaction are the same people who rely on you for emotional labor. The same people who come to you for comfort, support, and advice are the ones telling you to stop crying, to stop feeling, to stop mourning. They don’t understand that your tears are your form of action. Your anger doesn’t have to be “productive.” Your rage is enough. Your ability to feel so deeply is your greatest strength.

Brown woman, bold woman, brave woman. Immigrant woman who went to war with the desert to be here. Muslim woman who has always found a way to pick herself up from the rubble. Black woman who learned to heal herself when the world said you weren’t deserving. Queer woman whose very existence is an act of resistance. The days ahead will be dark. They will be hard. And there is no sugarcoating it. But today, you inspire me. And I want you to know that I see you. I see your beauty. I see your strength. I see your light. Thank you for shining.

Header image: Newsweek

Durham, NC

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

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