My Brass Tacks chat with Veronica A Perez was a gift last Friday. It was a calm chance to make sense of a week in which my spirit and memory were bombarded by misogyny, violence, pain – from Cosby to Kavanaugh – to reflecting on Anita, Monica, Christina and millions of nameless survivors.
I have struggled mightily to make sense of my thoughts and emotions. As I spoke with Veronica about art as a mirror, as a path between anger and hope, I saw a brilliant image of a tree, my tree.
Imagine a young fruit tree, growing in the sun, constrained by heavy steel wires. As the wires cut into branches and bark, the tree learns to shape itself around the wires. To grow in spite of or despite those constraints. As the tree learns to bear fruit and thrive, the wires are still there – biting and shaping its growth.
I realized that while I had spent years analyzing the role of race in my life, I had not allowed myself to look at the experiences of gender in the same way. Particularly those experiences where I was undervalued, unseen, or uncared for because of my gender. I realized there were significant choice points in my past where I cut myself down, silenced myself, or changed my goals and dreams directly in response to someone else’s misogyny – of many different forms. It hadn’t happened everywhere, or all the time. There were plenty of moments when my gender was a gift, and an asset.
Now, I started to see those times I hadn’t wanted to look at before – and ask myself, how am I twisting away from my true self in this present moment because of lies I internalized in the past?
After we finished filming our chat, Veronica and I spoke about this image. This moment is a chance to cut the wires, shed those constraints, and give our trees a chance to grow taller and truer to who we are.
I can grieve the time I’ve lost and wasted on believing the messages of misogyny that curved my path, and I’m feeling done with that today. Now, I want to stretch my branches further into the sun and see what can be possible. I want to stand strong with survivors like Ana Maria Archila, “fighting until the last minute” and taking brave risks to “do the things that scare me as an act of love”.
I cannot control the outcome of this judicial nomination – I am infuriated by this immutable fact. (Though I can keep contacting Senator Collins, and support Thursday’s protest #braveryiscontagious). I can grow into my truest self.