A Shattered Heart

El Corazon es donde duerme y despierta la realidad. Ahi uno se conoce, ahi uno nace, y ahi uno ama.

There are certain truths that some of us come to know from experience. Violence, destitution, colonization, and a poverty of soul are not things the texts of the Academy can teach, it is something one breathes, eats, and drinks, to the extent where it poisons the soul, where it becomes both agony and normal. From our youngest of years, from the moment of our inception into this world, we are tested, manipulated, and coerced into a system of exploitation, suffering, and in almost every utterance, violence.

This shatters the heart, unfathomable to those whose heart has been forever whole. And even when we enter the Masters House, sit at their table, eat their food, our heart still shatters, irreparably, into uncountable shards of confusion, to become raw material for imperial machines. A few days ago, this happened to me, but I am no stranger to such existential angst, for it is part of my reality.

I spoke to my father about Ferguson,  Staten Island, the injustices against Mike Brown and Eric Garner, about police violence, the violence against the students at Berkeley, about the state of affairs of the US. Our voices trembled with disillusion, frustration, rage, and echoes of words said times too many. We were both broken, but our bones have become accustomed to such pain. What scared me more than bullets was that for us, this was becoming normal.

My father began to tell me how everything happening across the states reminded him of when he participated in student protests in El Salvador against the corrupt military controlled government. The repression, the violence, the brutality was similar to what he was seeing on the news on his television in New York. The students he saw on screen were him all those years ago. I wanted to hold him, to try and give him a touch of hope that I knew not where to find. Then, he told me how afraid he was for me and my friends, all of us, and how when I would finally return home, he would live every day having to think about who would get hurt or shot and if it would be me or one of my friends. I could feel the devastation in his words. My father is proud of me, proud of everything I worked for. He is proud of my friends, many who have gone off to do incredible things. He loves them, as profoundly as he can, because that is his nature. But in this deep, hard, strong love lays a terror some are not privileged enough to ignore.

My heart shattered.

I did not tell him then, but it did, and I wanted to hug him, tell him that he need not be afraid, to comfort him with a lie that has been told and is till told so that we can survive. I wanted to tell him that the violence was an anomaly, that black men and women weren’t being killed every 28 hours by police. I wanted to tell him that this wasn’t El Salvador, that I would be ok, that my friends would be okay, that he wouldn’t have to worry. But I couldn’t. I have known truth all my life, and even if I told a lie, it would never be as believable as the lies told by those who have colonized our souls.

Some tell us America is the promised land, the kingdom of green and abundance. But that promise, from its early days, has been for the chosen, the few, the privileged. They live free from a fear of the state, for the fear they feel is that of the colonized, the other, the black and brown bodies. They fear the savages, they fear me.

The colonization of the soul knows no border, though it is the border that divides the colonized from the colonizer. The Imperial and Colonial vibrations make the soul feel the shackles of enslavement regardless of where one is. My father, and I, and those of us who bear the genealogical mark of imposed inferiority, do not escape colonialism, even in the land of the colonizer, even in America. We are not free from the gripping fear of violence, for in its truth we have yet to enter the post-colonial era, for the racist, sexist, capitalistic logic permeates, still, all life, and gains its strength from the past, a past that  the colonizer has not confronted or accepted responsibility for.

Why should my father, who sacrificed a life in his homeland, feel afraid for my friends, my sister, and me? Isn’t the promise of the pursuit of happiness for all? Why do Black people and people of color have to constantly think about who will die today – who will get shot by police, unarmed, hands up, screaming out for breathe – in our homes, in our streets, in our land?

Even in death, the colonized soul does not know peace. The memory of the black body is challenged in a system that is intrinsically unequal. Violence is justified, and there is no reparation for the shattered heart.

I do not want to live in fear, live in disillusion, live in rage. But I do, and I have grown up seeing the shards of bloodied glass on the floor, pick them up in defiance, repair them as best I can, only to have it shattered again. By the standards of the colonizer, I have done everything right, Black men and women could do everything right, and in a moment, no matter what degrees one has, the lack of a criminal record, the complete surrendering of the spirit, nothing matters.

I don’t want my father to be afraid. I don’t want to see our hearts shatter anymore.

I want to be free.


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