This week symbolizes so much for so many of us. I have been thinking about my own journey over the past year; taking stock of the ways I have changed physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have been sitting with the ways that I showed up to the moment or not. Most notably and specifically, Breonna Taylor and the meaning of silence.
For a better part of a year, I have sat with guilt, shame, and a sense of failure for what I once perceived as not showing up and out for her. My feelings were especially punctuated by the fact that I, an Afro-Latinx womxn, am now the owner of an Intersectional Feminist Bookstore in Brooklyn that centers the stories and injustices of all womxn with particular attention to Black womxn, did not post about her. I always feel an unspoken pressure to have a say; to mark the moment in some public and prolific way. And when I can't meet what the moment calls for, I feel a deep sense of shame. I resent this aspect of being a business owner.
To further complicate things, before I was the owner of Cafe con Libros, I spent my entire life being on my own side and the side of womxn. And once I transitioned into professional life, I dedicated almost 10 years to working with and on behalf of non-profits centered on anti-gender violence. I know the issue well. And still, I was silent.
However, as time passed, I realized that yes, I was silent. I was also and still am grieving. I am scared. I am hurt. I am anxious. I am feeling a profound sense of powerlessness. At times, I am overwhelmed. At others, I am distracted. I asked myself, after almost two decades of activism, why am I now feeling so afraid? The answer is simple, I am a mother.
Weeks before Breonna Taylor's death, I remember coming home from work, watching 45th talk about COVID19. I remember thinking to myself, I can't trust him. I remember the sinking feeling in my gut that because I had listened to 45th's administration, that I may have single-handedly exposed my 72 yr old mom and 2-year-old son to COVID19. I remember feeling something inside of me shift. I have not returned to my old self.
I spent so many nights up and listening to Emiliano breathe. I nursed him hoping to fill his body with antibodies. And when the entire family experienced COVID19 symptoms, I spent every waking hour wondering if I had transmitted the virus to him via breast milk. I searched and searched for information to help me make a decision of whether to wean. I ultimately decided my antibodies were worth the risk.
Another layer. We live about 10 min away from a hospital. Our block is the main conduit to the emergency room. Sirens were the backdrop of our lives for months. I said more prayers for strangers than I ever had. My anxiety was high. My hopes, low. My bandwidth to handle one more thing, disappearing.