my tattoo

Last Friday I had a meet-up with a cohort of undergraduates for an academic program. In the meet-up we talked about personal and professional goals, priorities, problems and a little bit about politics. The purpose of the meet-up was to create community through face-to-face dialogue. We found out that we have a lot in common. As one of the facilitators, I wanted to know how the program could be improved. I don’t want to be a part of something that is not rewarding, but I didn’t know how they felt about it. They gave amazing feedback and we went back and forth about the possibilities of 2018.

Most of the meet-up was really to come together and share ideas. There were times where one of them would try to preface a comment with how relatively small they thought their comment was. I had to inform them that no matter how big or small, it is still valid and respected.

In one part of the conversation, I shared something very personal. It was the type of sharing where your voice cracks, and you have to take deep breaths and pause so your eyes don’t say more than you want them to. Yeah…that kind. As difficult as it was, it allowed for them to get to know me better, which is something I really don’t do. (Let’s face it, how long have I had this website with no picture of myself? Exactly!)

This brought to mind two things, the first is the wounded healer of Greek mythology, the centuar, Chiron. Chiron was a healer and teacher that was struck by one of Hercules poisonous arrows that left a wound that couldn’t be healed and was the cause of his demise. I’m not saying I’m going out with an arrow, but despite my wound, I still offer others comfort on their journey. Ya dig? After the meet-up, three people came to me and shared their stories and offered warm regards. One of my favorites, hugged me and said we were the same—she’s absolutely right.

If you met an African in ancient times and asked him who he was, he would reply, “I am we.”…I, we, all of us are the one and the multitude.

–Huey P. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide

The second notion was despite our differences (race, religion, politics and so on), as a collective we worked on ways to build. Our interdependence is so dope. It reminded me of the Ubuntu saying, “I am because we are” which, I learned from reading Revolutionary Suicide by Huey P. Newton. Ubuntu, which is of southern African origin, has an ethics of accountability, a sense of community, and emphasizes how the piece affects the whole and vice versa. After reading the autobiography, I decided to get a tattoo that says “i am we.” The “i” is gray and the lettering gets darker as it gets to the “we” to symbolize the strength in the collective. My tattoo represents my goals, but more importantly a reminder to do the work and not just talk about it…starting with conversations like the one on Friday night.

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