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On Navigating Your Privileged Counterparts: Choose Freedom over Fear.

 

Being from a minority group makes life a little harder to navigate than for the privileged counterpart.

You are not clearly represented in the groups you work or belong. The prototypes of beauty are not similar to people like you. The stories portrayed in school books or movies do not contain your story.

A particular religious practice is blatantly favored in schools, but yours is not anywhere to be seen or even mentioned. Food is seen as a souvenir, yet those foreigners who make them are seen as less than, though their food is good! There are so many ways in which being a minority can be difficult. However, it can make it even more challenging when politicians and leaders target groups like yours.

This is a denial and prohibition to embrace who you are, and one of the ultimate acts of rejection a minority group can experience to their sense of self.

In today’s political climate, many who have already experienced daily micro-aggressions (due to their country of origin, ethnicity, color of their skin, religion and spiritual practices, sexual orientation or gender expression and identity) might feel like everything they have signaled as discrimination is now manifested in its greatest form. It is a nightmare coming true.

The challenge still remains, as many cannot perceive their privilege even when it is blatantly obvious and offensive. If these acts of exclusion are going unnoticed, condoned without consequences, met with celebration, and treated as a political taboo not to be discussed, how can you expect to feel safe?

As you try to wrap your mind around these recent political events, fear and hopelessness can take over. The question of ‘What is next?’ might become your mantra, and the ideal of ‘freedom and equality for all’ might succumb to a mere fantasy. I say, “Don’t succumb to fear.”

Our ancestors here and abroad fought difficult battles in order to leave us a little better than they were once. We certainly have a lot of work to do, but have had many victories and celebrations. Many of our mentors are not with us anymore because they passed away or we departed ways, but they still left in us the essence of the fight and resistance we need to have amidst adversity.

I propose that at these times of fear, rage and disbelief, hold on to the memory of the many who helped you be here today fighting for freedom, liberty and justice. Hold on to the memory of those who inspire you. Their presence remains here with you as you hold your ground. Stay in touch with your feelings and notice them as what they are, your way of coping with the unknown, rather than a feeling that controls you… and speak up.

Speak up, and trust your words will be heard
                        by those who need to hear your voice for their own healing,
                        by those who will learn it is heroic to speak up in spite of your fear.

Speak up, and trust your words will be heard
                        by those who still get uncomfortable with your bravery
                        by those who still feel you have no right to do so

Speak up, and trust your words will be heard
                        and our voices together will echo the fact that
                        we are different and unique, and that is a good thing

Speak up, and trust your words will be heard
                        and treasured by ancestors and past generations
                        who would have loved to see what you have become
                        what you have accomplished in spite of… in spite of.

“Continue to embrace the things that make you unique, even if it makes others uncomfortable. You are enough. And whenever you feel in doubt, whenever you want to give up, you must always remember to pick freedom over fear.” ~ Janelle Monáe

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MerariFernandezMerari Fernandez is a native Puerto Rican woman, who has found in writing the power of healing herself and the world. Encouraged as a child to put her mind into writing by her grandmother, she has found it beneficial when she cannot find the spoken words and when she has something important to say that can shake someone’s perspective. She is a therapist in private practice in Chicago at The Healing Journey Psychotherapy, and has devoted her life to work with survivors of abuse as well as with any suffering human being who has come to her for support and help. She loves Yoga, animals, the sun, the moon, the sea and the forest and anything that claim to be alive. Although, she feels deeply connected to her past ancestors. She continuous finds new ways to be present with her current life and is open to what life brings to her.

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