Healing together through community

Being a person of color at Cal Poly Humboldt is hard and it’s even harder without community. I was making friends during my first year, but I still felt so isolated. I was enjoying what they were teaching me in classes but it was hard to stay engaged with the coursework. As much as I felt accomplished to have graduated from community college and moved so far for university, I was struggling to fit in. I needed a community of people who understood my struggle.

It wasn’t until I joined El Leñador this semester that I finally felt I had come across a community for me. I felt validated in my struggles. I wasn’t the only one to feel weird when feeling glances while exploring town or feeling out of place working in predominantly-white workspaces. I wasn’t the only one who knew it was wrong, who knew I wasn’t doing anything to deserve anyone’s gaze, other than being unapologetically-brown and occupying space in their presence. 

But breaking it down with my friends and discussing the racist white attitudes we come across on our journeys made me feel less powerless and alone. With these spaces in my life I can walk through with my chin held high with pride, knowing that I am part of a community and that together we are strong.

Community is not just important for my well being and the wellbeing of people of color, but it is a means of survival. In our communities we are aware of the issues of the oppressed. We talk about them and sometimes we organize in response to them. If we do not speak up about our problems, our rights get taken away. 

It is important for our communities to organize, to march in the streets and on campus often and to speak out against our oppressors. Most importantly, we need to share the truth about our culture and the historic erasure and genocide that preceded us and affected our ancestors. We need to come to terms with how that history still affects us today. We need to remember our past and the suffering of our ancestors to ensure that histories do not repeat themselves. 

We are fostering a new generation that will be able to recognize this as the harmful echoes of a dwindling colonial past and focus on a more inclusive community where people are celebrated for their differences and the common grounds we all come together over.

At the end of the day we all face the same problems as a part of a global community. We can all still do so much better to be more open-minded and become more involved in local communities with compassion, to learn and understand each other better, because while the system might thrive from taking advantage of the culture and labor of people of color, our communities aren’t as oppressive.

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