Friends, we are living in terrible times, bereft of wisdom and compassion, corrupt to the core, incompetent, irresponsible, morally reprehensible. It is a vile time.
I want to put it out there, amplify something that Solmaz Sharif discussed at our Poets & Writers panel on Poetry and Empire. I don’t believe I want to support any poetry that is sanctioned by The State. I don’t believe I want a poetry associated institutional core values of white supremacy and disaster capitalism.
You may argue with me that as Americans, we are all complicit. Sure.
But I also believe that our reliance upon The State for legitimacy makes us passive, ineffectual.
I don’t have a lot of answers; I have a shit ton of questions. Can we meaningfully resist? Can our art, our words be a part of meaningful resistance? In the very recent past, I was so resolute, as an educator and an author, on the side of social justice and wisdom. These things I bring into my classroom on the regular. I sense that it is all very heavy and intense for my students, but it’s crucial that these discussions happen, even if it is just bringing all of these (for now) unanswerable questions into the open.
But I am also feeling like nothing that I can do is enough. As an educator, an author, a citizen. I am turning to Carlos Bulosan constantly, not just because he is my current syllabus item, but because I don’t know any other Filipino American authors who write about these concerns of social responsibility. How to be, what it means to a be citizen, an American of Filipino descent who is a writer.
Anytime I’ve put it out there in writing what I believe our responsibilities are to our own communities, anytime I’ve been openly critical of how we perpetuate colonial mentality, anytime I want to hold folks accountable, I’ve been shunned, lectured, belittled, talked shit about, dis-invited, erased, ignored by my own. Who are not my own.
I am tired of the prevailing mentality that absolves us of any responsibility, accountability, culpability. We have enabled the fascist state that is now our everyday reality, by pretending it would never happen to us or affect us lest we jeopardize our precious careers. So then, what is meaningful resistance. What meaningful intellectual, soul searching, light bringing, community building work must we all do. What can educators and writers and artists really, truly do.