I’M UNDOCUMENTED &
I DON’T THINK TRUMP IS THE PROBLEM
OF A WHOLE
SIXTEEN & PASSIONATE
LOCAL YOUTH FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHT TO VOTE
R E S I S TA N C E
THE CHILDREN OF IMMIGRANTS
MANHOOD: THE EARLY YEARS
STARKS ESCOBAR LOVE
AN APOLOGY LETTER
JUST DO IT: FOR YOURSELF
Program Manager & Editor
Published by Pacific News Service
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Words. Art. Photos.
Kody Stoebig + Jarrett M. Ramones
Adrian Diaz. Patrick Antunez. Miguel Bibanco. Raymart Catacutan. Johnsen Del Rosario. Zyanna Maynard. Jarrett M. Ramones. Ricardo Reyna. Aqeela Starks. Maya Vinnini.
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The kNOw is supported by a grant from The California Endowment.
Coachella Unicoporated. South Kern Sol. The kNOw. We’Ced. VoiceWaves.
Summer Issue no.15
In 2016, the writers of The kNOw gathered together and imagined what a perfect world would look like. They imagined a world of acceptance, a world with no borders or hate and a place where the people who look like them can feel safe and heard. This year they took that a step farther. They took what they envisioned and turned it into RESISTANCE. Resistance is a word that gets used quite a bit these days. In a world where journalists are being attacked for doing their jobs and children are being separated from their parents because of where they are born, many communities are resisting. For many, resistance means the Black Lives Matter organization, the Women’s Day march and the Day Without an Immigrant protests. These are all crucial forms of resistance, but these are not necessarily how the young writers and artists of The kNOw define resistance. For them, resistance is more than just a word – it’s a movement. It’s a state of mind and a defining factor of their lives. When so many others find themselves overwhelmed with the world and unsure of what to do to help, they find purpose. They don’t allow the darkness in the world to overwhelm them, instead they use it to channel their passions into resistance. Like Zyanna Maynard, who writes poetry about her struggle to accept herself in a world that constantly tells her that she is not good enough. Or Patrick Antunez, who was raised to think that being a “man” meant not showing any emotion, but who fights against that every day for the sake of his own mental health. Or Maya Vannini, who strives to hold on to her cultural heritage in a society that is often hostile to her identity. They may be young, but they have already discovered how to do what many adults are still struggling with: find a way to create change in their world without being crushed by the weight of what needs to be fixed. They are truly a force to be reckoned with.
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2911 Tulare St. Fresno, CA 93721 ThekNOwFresno.org
OF A WHOLE Maya Vannini I am one one-half and two one-fourths. One-half Pakistani, one-fourth Belgian and one-fourth Italian. But, (debatably) more importantly, I am many many generations. If first generation is considered first to live in the United States, I am second and third and fourth and fifth generation. This is not surprising, considering I was born into a country made for immigrants by immigrants. Also not surprising is that my one-half makes me second generation, while my two one-fourths is where it gets muddy. Yet, as our great Melting Pot will allow, my one-half will become my children’s one-fourth and their children’s one-eighth and so on until there’s no point in keeping track of the one-whatever. The cliché is that the glass is half full or half empty because one-half is nearly a majority. No one will ever ask you if the glass is one-fourth full or one-fourth empty because it doesn’t work that way. It’s one-fourth full, three-fourths empty. There’s only one-fourth to cling on to, one-fourth to claim. Being one one-half and two one-fourths and a hodgepodge of generations gives me an interesting vantage point. Top Maya Vannini Photo by Kody Stoebig Family photos provided by the Vannini family
04 Summer 2017
This piece was originally published in Spectrum, a literary anthology comprised of winning/honorable mention submissions to the Young Writer’s Conference and was awarded the FACET award.
My maternal Pakistani side has always pulled me in. Lured by my mother’s Urdu-speaking family, I’ve found myself enthralled with the world they left behind. They are the first generation to live in America, and with their journey came their culture — from mouthwatering masalas to Eid prayers to three day weddings — still so fresh in their minds, in their hearts. My paternal Belgian and Italian side has always felt starkly more American than anything else. Even though my Walloon grandmother’s voice drips with a heavy French accent as she recounts her teenage years in Nazi-occupied Belgium, her late husband’s New Jersey Italian roots brought her to suburbia. A pictureperfect 50’s housewife, a successful bread-winning husband, and three allAmerican boys — one a football player, one a car enthusiast, one an artist. The melting pot melts into the American mold. Yet it would be foolish to believe my mother’s side preserved culture unscathed. They came here for college — full-scholarship, brain-drain kids. Kids who accepted America with open arms, digging into hamburgers and singing along to Fleetwood Mac. Kids who had long left Islam — a component of Pakistan so large one struggles not to generalize the country as a giant mosque. Kids who married American kids and raised American kids.
So American, in fact, that our family looks like a random generator put various people in a room — we are Belgian, Italian, Korean, Black, and of course, Pakistani. Not one of the second-gens can understand the wisps of calligraphy forming right-to-left Urdu poetry. Not one of the second-gens can recite any prayers whatsoever. And so it goes. Growing up in the diverse Central Valley, I’ve been surrounded by second-gen kids like me. Kids that tag -American on the end of their nationalities, even though we are all engulfed by the suffix. We drown in the melting pot. One-half becomes one-fourth and we pass on what is not lost in the commotion of getting through each day. Language left first, its bags packed long before we were born as our parents learned English. What leaves next? Food, as I’ve never learned to fill the house with an intoxicating masala aroma? Dress, as it’s ridiculously expensive to buy saris in the States yet equally expensive to order the hand-embroidered fabrics from Pakistan themselves? The small bit of culture I’ve managed to sink my talons into means more than anything to me. The Pakistani in Pakistani-American gives me a sense of who I am — yet one-half becomes one-fourth and one-fourth becomes oneeighth. The x-gens of all races “whitewashed” and “Americanized,” melted into an unidentifiable stew in the Melting Pot.
And I am scared. And why should we carry our immigrant ancestors’ suitcases, packed to the brim with songs and recipes and dances and literature and tradition? Because to be “Americanized” is to toss the contents of your suitcase in with the others. Because it has taken me the heartbreak of inevitable giving up aspects of my culture to realize that “Americanization” is just as much taking in others. Living in America, I know much more about Mexican and Hmong culture than my parents, and far more than my parents’ parents. I see my school celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Mardi Gras and Hmong New Year. I see my classmates translate school messages into their parents’ native tongues, a foot in each world. These x-gen kids of all races flooded the streets on January 21st. “White-washed” and “Americanized,” they walked for the country their ancestors flocked to for a better life. They remembered an inescapable truth: we live in a country of immigrants. Although I fear my roots may melt into an unidentifiable stew, I know that one-eighth becomes onesixteenth becomes one-thirty-second yet never zero. Never zero, as the numbers asymptote in defiance. We all have our remnants of culture pre”Americanization” — no matter how small. We are all x-gens of all races. We are all children of immigrants.
Vannini TheKnowFresno.org 05
SIXTEEN & PASSIONATE
Local Youth Fight for Their Right to Vote Raymart Catacutan Malaena Agustin, 17, is a member of Sunnyside High School’s Doctor Academy and vice president of Sunnyside’s spirit group, the Wildcat Wave. When it comes to making changes, Agustin said, “As a student, you have to actually want it and be able to seek it yourself.” But throughout the valley, students like Agustin are struggling because they can’t vote in their own school board elections, where the voting age is 18. A coalition of groups in Fresno is hoping to change that. Combining their collective strength, Fresno Women Empowered and the Fresno Youth Commission have taken the first steps in proposing lowering the voting age to 16 for Fresno Unified School District (FUSD) board member elections. They are calling the campaign #16toVote. Top Raymart Catacutan Photo by Kody Stoebig Bottom BMOC Youth meet with Fresno Mayor Lee Brand Photo by Adrian Diaz
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There have been a lot of changes at Fresno Unified School District this past year, from Superintendent Michael Hanson stepping down to the vote to finally recognize FUSD as a “Safe Space” school district. Hoping to capitalize on these changes, several local youth leaders and organizations are fighting to give students more of a say in what goes on in their district. Currently, students say there is a clear disconnect between the board and the students they represent. Neng Thao, a member of the Fresno Youth Commission, says there is a need for more communication and student representation. Thao, who is now 18 and a student at Edison High School, said that students have little awareness about what is happening on the school board. “I hardly know them [the FUSD school board members] because I was unable to vote for them at the time,” he said. “I was not aware of their visions and ideals. I’m sure that’s the same situation with other students as well.” Fellow Youth Commision member and Edison High School student, Gabriel Murillo, 16, agrees.
“There’s currently a disconnect between students and the school board, and as a result, students are not given the best education that they can get,” Murillo said. Students say there is a danger in a board that makes all of the decisions for students without being accountable to the students themselves. “The lack of youth representation can easily be solved if they have direct input,” Miranda Lara, 16, of the Youth Commission, said. Marissa Vang, 18, has been a member of the Youth Commission since its inception and is also a member of Women Empowered, an organization in Fresno made up of women wanting change in their city. Lowering the age to 16 would give high school students the ability to decide who they want to represent them. According to Vang, there could be other benefits as well. “There’ve been many studies on how the earlier you vote, the more likely you’ll vote in the long run and the more frequently you’ll vote,” Vang said. Students say it’s a matter of representation: Every decision made
about the FUSD affects them so they should have a say in their own education. Julie Bounchareune, youth leadership organizer for Women Empowered, said this campaign is vitally important to the youth of Fresno. “School board members make decisions that directly impact students, therefore students should have a vote on which school board member they want to elect to represent their district,” Bounchareune said, noting that youth in Berkeley recently organized to pass Measure Y1 which reduced the voting age to 16 for their school board members. #16toVote’s success in Fresno could depend on the role youth leaders play in the campaign. Sher Moua, program manager for Fresno Boys and Men of Color, said, “They feel like students should have a voice in choosing board members to represent them because these elected officials are making policy decisions that directly affect their education and lives.” For young people in Fresno, having a say in their education isn’t seen as a privilege, but a right. #16ToVote
Catacutan TheKnowFresno.org 07
Patrick Antunez Photo by Kody Stoebig
Patrick Antunez Once in my childhood I was at daycare doing my daily chores and keeping myself entertained with silly faces and weird voices. Then I felt the glare of an older student and heard him say, “Patrick you’re a f*g.” Without thinking, I lashed out and, filled with rage, threw him to the ground. Even though he insulted me, I was the one who got in trouble for reacting the way I did. But I couldn’t allow someone to openly disrespect me for being myself. Although it was just bullying, I believed that he insulted me because of who I was. As a result, I stopped being overly expressive and doing things like going into character to entertain myself, all to avoid the degrading comments of someone questioning my masculinity. I was taught the importance of my “manhood” very early in my life. I was taught that there are these invisible rules to masculinity that must never be questioned. Along with all of the other stresses of growing up, living under this cloud took a toll on my mental health. Masking my true self because of these societal rules to masculinity didn't help and left me to question my identity, even when I decided to rebel. In the environment I grew up in, I could never admit to having emotions. My father and mother were both tough people from the streets. Although they were my parents and loving, I didn’t feel that I could talk to them about my issues. They portrayed themselves as having had
08 Summer 2017
it so much harder when they were my age, which made it seem like any of my problems were irrelevant.
cannot escape my mind running a million miles an hour with sad memories and the realization of how numb I have become.
I didn’t have an outlet and had to hide even in my place of comfort.
This new found realization lets me come to grips with knowing that I have mental health issues, but not knowing what exactly they might be. What I do know is that I can no longer live in fear of someone questioning that I am a man just because of the way they see me.
I have never wanted to tell them about my anxieties or sad thoughts anyways because my environment taught me to believe that men didn’t feel, that I was supposed to be tough and emotionless. Wanting to be a man, I faked this backwards mindset. But now I feel my insides destroying themselves and I have no control over it. Anticipating the fall of the sun and the rise of the moon, I am left unsure whether or not I am going to live to see another day. I
I have kept the motto, “I am a lover not a fighter, but I will fight for what I love,” close to my heart. To me, this is what my masculinity is really all about. Being strong enough to be loving and soft of heart even in tough times, but knowing when tough times come to have the strength to overcome them.
This strength comes through realizing that we are a whole, through recognizing our collective power to unite instead of remaining isolated. This strength comes from the knowledge that this twisted view of “masculinity” does nothing but isolate men from their brothers and, especially, their sisters. I have learned to ignore hateful comments and refuse to let anything change who I am. I choose to say what I feel and think even around those with a negative disposition. I have gained the courage to go against this world of hate and close-mindedness
through art and poetry. This free expression has aided me in my struggle with mental health. With mental health issues being so rampant today, unnecessary threats like the pressure to conform to old, rigid forms of gender stereotypes are toxic to our collective psyches. Many of us young men struggle with defining who we are and are too afraid to reach out for help. But these struggles are normal and have nothing to do with our masculinity. 1 in 5 teens will suffer from mental health issues and that is not something that can be ignored.
Getting help starts with the bravery to admit there is a problem. Living with a mental health issue and not realizing it until you’re an adult is like living under a cloud your whole life and not realizing there is a beautiful sun beyond it. Realizing now that only I could define my masculinity helped me mentally. Still, those rules haunt me at times. But I remain strong. I now find strength in my free expression and I have learned that being accepted is not worth losing who I truly am.
I’M UNDOCUMENTED &
I DONT THINK TRUMP IS THE PROBLEM Miguel Bibanco Just a month into Trump’s presidency and the controversies are beginning to mount. From his unreleased tax returns to allegations of Russian collusion and the resignation of his national security advisor, Michael Flynn, detractors smell blood. But is calling for the end of a Trump presidency the right thing to do? Well, it’s complicated. If we could all take the time to close our eyes and imagine what it would feel like to be violently impaled by a large trident, we’d all understand the issue a bit better. I’m sure we’d all agree that it’d be quite uncomfortable as far maritime experiences are concerned. Taking a painkiller or two seems like a natural course of action to help alleviate the excruciating torment
Antunez + Bibanco TheKnowFresno.org 09
TRUMP Justice XI Watercolor & Ink 18”x24” Jarrett M. Ramones, 2017
the lives of people. The fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline precedes our current administration and the inaction of the Obama administration did not benefit the native populations fighting to protect their water and home; it actively harmed them. Our country has repeatedly chosen to force people to fight for their way of life against multi-million dollar corporations that seek to profit over the potential suffering of indigenous peoples. As an undocumented person, I know that even if I had the power to vote it wouldn’t liberate me, and that I still wouldn’t be fully recognized as a person. That’s why fighting against Trump is not enough. Do you think that the movement that put Trump in office will just dissipate without him? Those who support Trump have a strong foothold in our political system and the power that they build will continue to exist after Trump is gone. The politics of bigotry, hate and profit over people is part of the way our government works. That’s the way it has been since long before Trump took office. If you are just noticing it now then you have been willfully averting your eyes from the pain of your neighbors.
we all might find ourselves in, but that does very little to rectify any of the other complications that might arise from trident impalement. In this way, the political climate of this country is very much like a day in the life of an Ancient Roman secutor facing a retiarius in a gladiatorial bout or a very unfortunate turn of events during maritime activities. The truth is that Trump is a symptom of a much deeper problem, and that problem is a symbolic trident driven into our country
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with little more than some vitamin C and lots of sleep as our only medicine. We in this country have cultivated a political climate where it is acceptable to debate things like basic human rights with people who pursue policies and legislation that seek to harm and sometimes kill people. People like me. Long before the Trump administration took the reigns of our country it has been our policy to weigh capital and profit over
During his tenure, President Obama deported approximately 2.5 million people. This is more than any other president in U.S. history. People fearful of what Trump may do to immigrant populations need to acknowledge that he will be utilizing the deportation machine that was passed on to him by the previous administration... To read the rest of “I’m Undocumented & I Don’t Think Trump is the Problem” scan this code or visit TheKnowFresno.org
FORGING THE ART
OF RESISTANCE Ricardo Reyna When a blade for war is forged, it is heated, hammered and beaten into shape until it is finally sharp enough to be used as a weapon for battle. In life, everybody must battle with oppressive forces and personal everyday wars of their own. It may leave them feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, alone and fearful at times â€“ as if it was them against the world. So how can they exert resistance in times of trouble and hardship? First we must ask, what is resistance? Resistance could be defined in two ways. 1. The refusal to accept or comply with something; the attempt to prevent something by action or argument. 2. The ability not to be affected by something, especially adversely. Many people, including myself, defeat these adversities by using art and expression as our weapon. Just like when creating a sword, our minds have been heated, hammered, and beaten into shape by the world, our thoughts become forged into art to be used as a weapon against our problems. It's a way to vent about things that may be too hard to speak about. Whether it's painting a Top Resist Digital Ricardo Reyna 2017
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picture, carving a sculpture or writing poems and songs, artists use their skills to show what is on their mind and counteract their problems in a positive way. They bring out what others might not be able to see or think about on their own. I've been a part of many community projects that show how young people can artistically “battle” with the things that need to be fought against. When I was 15 years old, for instance, I was part of helping to paint the “Louie Kee Market Mural” over on the west side of town, a project orchestrated by The kNOw and the Fresno BHC. It was our way of showing that we wanted to make Fresno a better place, even if it was in the form of a 150 foot painting – a painting of things we loved and the places we came from. We worked every weekend for hours on end, satisfied with the idea that we were giving back to our community, and leaving behind something to be proud of. To this day I feel a great deal of pride in knowing I was a part of something bigger than myself. Then, just last September, I was also blessed to be a part of a very successful event named Kick Knowledge L.O.U.D (Living Our Unchained Dreams). L.O.U.D allowed local artists and performers to show their talent and hard work by setting up several art galleries and stages that allowed people, like myself, the outlet to visually and verbally express how they feel about the things that are impacting themselves and the lives of
those around us. As an artist and performer who openly speaks about all the things going on in my life, I took from this event a very valuable lesson I hadn’t learned until that day: that although it is very therapeutic for someone to voice out what is on their mind, being heard and giving them the opportunity to show what’s inside of them is far more important. What good is a cry for help if nobody is around to hear it? Fresno’s monthly Arthops have done a great job of doing just that: creating an environment that allows artists to be heard by crowds of people who appreciate what they have to say. It’s such a great sight to see everyone milling about, admiring the work of local artists and having wonderful conversations. It gives me a feeling of hope to know that many of my friends are attending them as well and learning to appreciate other people's minds, talents and views on what they feel is important to them. I get to hear many of the stories behind some of the art and music and it always amazes me to hear about what inspires people to do what they do. Seeing the passion in someone's eyes when they speak about what they’ve created and why they love it energizes my ambition and inspires me to want to inspire others. Although I paint pictures and play instruments myself, writing is where I truly find my solace and strength in moments of weakness. It could be through poetry, music or even stories
about characters I create in my head. Writing is my preferred way to overcome most of the negative thoughts that crowd my mind. Sometimes, these trains of thought may take me to a dark place, but learning to manage them and using them to create, instead of letting them consume me, is a task I’m becoming rather good at. There is a certain joy and comfort I get from hearing the tip of a pencil scratching and scribbling on the surface of a composition notebook. It brings me peace in times when I need it most. Whatever any of you may be going through in life, it is always good to find some way to fight against it, without hurting yourself or anyone around you. Find something you are passionate about that also allows you to create something positive from the negativity you may be going through. Learn a new craft that takes your mind off of whatever has you feeling trapped and never be ashamed to express how you feel. A very intelligent young woman and great friend of mine once said something to me that I’ve carried around ever since, and if there is anything valuable to be learned from this article, let it be those very same words: "Remember that your emotions make sense and it’s okay for you to acknowledge them."
PUSHING KIDS TO BE SMARTER OR JUST MAKING THEM WORK HARDER? Aqeela Starks + Danyeal Escobar
When the Common Core education standards were first adopted in 2014, they were promoted as a way to improve students’ critical thinking skills in subjects like math and language arts. But three years in and most of our friends and peers come up with different language to describe it: confusing, useless and unnecessary. Some even refer to CCSS as garbage. Speaking with siblings and friends, most of them said they hate Common Core, and that it makes them feel stupid. They don’t understand how, for example, their problems can be marked wrong even if
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Editor’s Note: As Fresno Unified prepares to elect a new superintendent, and local charter schools continue to gain support, reporters Aqeela Starks and Danyeal Escobar sat down to discuss their own individual experiences in school. Starks, a senior at Big Picture High School, and Escobar, a junior at Edison High School, quickly realized that their experiences had one thing in common. Both had struggled, and seen their peers and families struggle, with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. they get the right answer. Under Common Core a typical math problem looks something like this: “What is 4x6”. My own brother brought an assignment home where he had written “4x6=24” – yet his answer was marked wrong because he wrote 6+6+6+6=24 instead of 4+4+4+4+4+4=24. What a great way to make children like math! Instead of focusing on the fun parts of school like making slime, growing plants and being more sociable in class,
all students like my brother worry about is why their right answers are being marked wrong. In addition, Common Core seems to have taken all the fun out of school. And it's not just the students who have complaints about Common Core. We sat down with teachers from both of our schools and the common response was that they don’t have enough “time” to do fun activities in class anymore, so they
end up having to send “fun” projects home to give students a break. Besides costing participating states billions of dollars, there is no definitive proof that CCSS is improving school’s ranks. So what exactly are the pros to CCSS? I definitely don’t see any for students or for parents. I watch my mom day in and day out struggling with my younger siblings; trying to help them understand these new standards while still trying to understand them herself. Seeing this stress all of the time, Danyeal and I talked to other parents who have struggled to help their kids with Common Core. We weren’t the least bit surprised when almost all of them had the exact same complaints. Our parents’ generation wasn’t taught Common Core, so now they have to learn Common Core in order to help their children. What kind of crap is that? Our parents have to work hard every day to keep the lights on and food on the table. They don’t have time to stress over something as ridiculous as why 6+6+6+6=24 is wrong but 4+4+4+4+4=24 is right.
all of their hard work, and now they are taking the beating for the “one size fits all” teaching methods they have no choice but to follow. And speaking of this “one size fits all” method, what exactly does that mean? Well, Common Core’s main focus is Math and English. So that means bye bye Bill Nye, away with history and don’t even think about picking up that paintbrush, Jimmy. For instance, remember how History class taught us about our past and science taught us about the many magical wonders of the world? Well that’s not happening anymore. But don’t worry, the CCSS has it covered. Now students will be taught history, science, social studies and technical studies all in English class through historical text, governmental text and scientific text. Sounds like fun, right?
fiction, students now get inane and unsolvable questions like: “If I have ten ice cubes and you have eleven apples how many pancakes can fit on that roof?” Do you even want to guess the answer? Probably not, but the answer is purple because aliens don’t wear hats. As a student who just missed the CCSS, I can’t believe how people allowed these ridiculous standards to be implemented. Or how parents are so content to struggle and watch their children struggle. The goal for these standards might have been a good one, but it is absurdly clear that the goals and the actual execution do not match up. No matter what their intentions, the flawed implementation and practices have parents, students and teachers putting up the middle finger to Common Core.
And that definitely means there is no more time for any of the arts. Instead of creative writing and educational
That’s why everybody we talked to asked, “Why is my child suddenly failing Math and English?” Unfortunately when that happens, there is one simple answer in parent’s minds. The teachers. Teachers aren’t completely innocent, but they shouldn’t get blamed for having to comply with state standards or face losing their jobs. As it is, teachers don’t get enough respect or compensation for
Starks + Escobar TheKnowFresno.org 15
A poem by Zyanna Maynard
Zyanna Maynard Photo by Jarrett M. Ramones
Author’s Note This poem is my form of resistance. When the world tells me that I’m not good enough to be loved, I found a way to teach myself how to be. This poem is my journey.
Dear Me, I’d like to give my most sincere apology. I’m sorry you feel so uncomfortable in your skin right now, this body was supposed to be a blessing and not a burden and for some reason you feel like you’ve been trapped in oversized clothing. I’m sorry I haven’t taught you how to love yourself correctly. I’m not really sure if there is a correct way to go about loving yourself. I’m sorry you learned cracked mirrors
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before self love. I wish you were more self loving and less self loathing. You say you know what love is, yet you still can’t find the time to love yourself. I’m sorry I am not the best teacher, but I’ve been stuck studying too many bodies that look so foreign to mine. I think I’ve been studying the wrong subject. So I am asking you to forgive me. Forgive me for the times I yelled at you crying out why can’t you be beautiful.
Forgive me for rejecting every compliment people have given you, I didn’t mean to argue I just don’t know what they see in this tattered body that so desperately tries to convince itself that it is art. Love me. Love me like the way you want to love everyone else. Love like the way you love smiling. Love me like you know you should. Please, I so desperately want you to know what love feels like. You don’t have to keep looking for it in the arms of others. We can even do this together.
THE MOST RADICAL FORM OF RESISTANCE Johnsen Del Rosario The election of Donald Trump was a wake-up call for many, and as a result, a new wave of people who were not previously involved in activism are now joining the resistance. The next four years aren’t going to be easy, as we can already gather from Trump’s first four months of presidency. So, in the midst of all the chaos and the fight for the greater good, we mustn’t forget to take care of ourselves in the process. Our country needs us now more than ever, but if we burnout, what good are we to the cause? As poet and activist Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not selfindulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
It’s exhausting and time-consuming work, but there is nothing to be ashamed of if you think you need a break. Everybody needs time to rejuvenate and recuperate. Besides, an army of people are behind you ready to pick up where you left off.
Self-care is doing any action that will benefit one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. It can be as simple as taking a nap or going on a walk or something a little more challenging like picking up a new hobby or taking a step back from commitments.
This administration is hoping to exhaust and have us burnout to the extent where we become useless as a resistance. We can’t let that happen. We must hold each other accountable. Self-care is not only self-love, it is also a form of resistance. By refusing to burnout, we are standing up against the oppressors.
But even as small an act as remembering to eat, taking time for one’s self is a hard task for many. They’re asking themselves, “How can I take a break when there are so many things to get done?” Some might even feel shameful for even thinking about taking time off.
If you feel like the events of our nation or the world are taking over and consuming you whole: stop. Turn off your phone, your laptop and the TV. Have dinner with friends, take a vacation or dance it out -whatever you do, do it for yourself.
Here at The kNOw, we practice self-care all the time and in many different ways. Scan this code to see a few examples of how we take care of ourselves while doing this important work and then share your own picture of you practicing self-care with the hashtag #SelfCareRevolution – and don’t forget to tag us @theknowfresno so we can celebrate your special form of resistance!
Del Rosario TheKnowFresno.org 17
Summer 2017 (English)