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How Do You Explain, What Do You Say?

August 3, 2019

“We are both tired. We are not laminated, protected, sealed from the difficulties and pressures of the journey like this map is. We are human and porous. We get wet in the rains of the monsoons that fall, and torn by the winds.”

Friend and colleague Hannah Adair Bonner wrote that. It’s just part of a longer piece she wrote earlier this week, and I thank her again for letting me share her work here with you —

“Necesitas probar esto,” she said, thrusting a taco into my hand. I crunch down and tell her “muy rico.” Across the room, her son pores over the map that I’ve just put up. For years it had hung in the Campus Christian Center where I work, and today it had found a home where it will get more use. I point out to him where we are, and then where he is headed. He bends over the map, studying Arizona.

We are both tired. We are not laminated, protected, sealed from the difficulties and pressures of the journey like this map is. We are human and porous. We get wet in the rains of the monsoons that fall, and torn by the winds.

I pull up a chair beside him and he peppers me with questions. He asks me whether we have a fair here in Tucson, and I tell him only in April. I try to explain the Tanque Verde Swap Meet, like a fair without the rides, but he’s unconvinced.

He reads the piece of art on the wall from the Minneapolis studio of Ricardo Levins Morales, “¡No se vende!” he says the words loudly, mirroring the young Afro-Latina girl in the picture as she declares that her country is not for sale.

My heart hurts tonight. The threads of white supremacy and patriarchy feel particularly difficult to disentangle from the fabric of the church this week In Tucson. How do you explain solidarity to those who only want to offer charity? What do you say to those who leave the field of struggle when it is not popular, when there is a real price to pay?

“Necesitas comer otro,” his mother interrupts my thoughts to point another taco in my direction. The questions that swirl in my mind are ones she knows full well, and the painful answers are what drove her from her home. I take the taco, the best advice she can give me as an expert in facing the hard questions.

Today, the body must eat and tonight the body must rest, because tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is always waiting to awaken the power of the people to rise and create new possibilities. The answers can wait until then.

Climbing into her bed, she tells me it’s time to turn out the lights, and without hesitation I obey.

 

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