I really love that this trip is called a pilgrimage. When I think about it, I see not only museums and tours, but also an important, personal experience. I wish to pay homage to those that have struggled on behalf of my white privilege. I want to stand in solidarity with a community that has been ignored. I want to breath the air of radical activists whose stories have changed my life. Stokely Carmichael, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis and Ida B. Wells. Like the Muslims to Mecca, I want to know that I am in a sacred space, shattered by ignorance and hate and mended by community, love and hope. I want to see Little Rock, Birmingham and Montgomery knowing that I am in a space that has seen, and will continue to see, so much change. In my activism as a queer person, I need this. I need to know that one day, I might have the right to marry in all fifty states, to assure my trans* brothers and sisters that they may walk without fear of assault, and to see my community fully covered under the law as first class citizens. I feel that this trip means more to me than I realized when I signed up; I feel that it will work as a journey in hope and renewal in my passion and activism.
As I look through clothes to pack, finish my laundry and turn in my last minute assignments before leaving for the trip on Friday, I reflect on my reasons for going on the trip in general. I am constantly debated with about my affinity for Black history in the basis of the mythical “post-racial” status of our nation. Despite the intent of this debate, it simply motivates me to learn more about a history that has been largely overlooks and undervalues. As I read “Brainwashed” my motivation was further affirmed. The reading served to illustrate how a color-blind way of living is a disservice to minority groups in America, especially the Black Community. I was raised to be colorblind, to pretend that race made no difference in a person’s life experience and. I was taught to ignore race and, more importantly, to ignore the racial history in America and in doing so place blame elsewhere and make myself feel comfortable in my privilege. As I came to college, my life changed. I was taught, slowly, that race makes all of the difference. It was that knowledge that caused me to become and African American Studies minor, be an advocate for the Black community in white, privileged spaces, and to make journeys like the one I will partake in on Friday. “Brainwashed” was my favorite read for this week because it provided statistical data as to why and how the Black community struggles in day to day experiences and how they adapt and react to the oppression they have been born into. It’s facts like these that I point to when told that I should be colorblind, and I hope to collect more on the trip!