Some reflection that came to me first thing in the morning:
I am Romanian. I grew up not having much, aware I had less than others, under Communism.
I have survivor guilt: Why me? Why did I make it?
I have met barriers – sexual harassment, sexism, xenophobia, and age discrimination – growing up, in the professional world, in graduate school, in academia.
I was also part of the “-isms”; have been; am. I am also working on acting upon, and continuing to work on, awakening myself to what truly matters in human interactions – seeing everyone, listening to everyone’s stories. I do this by immersing myself in social justice, critical race, and post-colonial literatures.
I also do this outside of my academic environment (and bubble) by listening to stories my neighbors share, my family members go through differently than me, and my community fellows experience in worlds and situations I will never know.
I don’t see myself as marginalized given what I read; though some have prompted me to pause to examine my position shaped by my past. I have privilege today living in the U.S. and in most spaces I inhabit – and have learned I always have as a member of the majority culture in Romania. Yet I am learning about the sliding scale that marginalization is – when I occupy it and when I don’t. I am learning to ask questions like, “Why am I not right now, right here?” and “What can I do when I am not?” Also, I am learning about being present to when I am, feeling the feelings, pausing to observe, reflecting on what I can teach (who, how) from that space.
I struggle to let stand the beginning of this reflection. It reads complaining almost, to me, instead of factual, which in fact it is. I am not yet (?) comfortable with speaking openly – or directly, or boldly – about the start of the journey. Is it guilt because I am more aware of my privilege today, and dwelling on what has been hard feels like I’m indulging in victimhood?
I am more comfortable starting with something like, this is who I am now (scholar, teacher, etc.), this is what has informed where I am now (literature, theories, etc.), then (maybe) get to life experiences… Is that a way to bury them, or diminish their significance, or take away or shrink their impact on me today, or force them to lessen their presence with each iteration?
So one day has begun for me, with these musings. they are prompted by reading an article on counterstories by Aja Y. Martinez from 2014, if anyone must know. Maybe this is the beginning of my counterstory.
Cheers and happy reflection to you all! Writing is good.