Settled in Tucson

I arrived last night and settled in fairly quickly.  A staff member picked me up from the airport and we laughed the entire way back to campus. Is that what it’s called, campus? I don’t know.  Here’s a picture of me in my yurt:

Yurt living!

Yurt living!

You may not know this, but living in a yurt is on my list of things to do before I die. YEEESS!

It’s day one and and I’m just entering the Honeymoon phase, but I’m in love. The heat. The creatures. The yurts. The people. Everything.

I fell asleep at 9:30 last evening and awoke at 6:00 this morning and went for a run.  If you’ve been reading my previous entries you’ll know I hate to run. Tucson’s elevation is at 2,643 above sea level, whereas Pennsylvania is at 446′. My lungs felt the difference. I probably jogged for 1.5 miles and was like “Alright, that’s enough for today, folks!” and went back home. Ate gluten-free oatmeal sweetened with molasses and some shared watermelon and now I’m here sitting on my bed in front of two fans.  It’s 79 degrees, but it feels like a gajillion.

I’m happy though.

The one thing missing is my dog. There are 4 dogs on campus and though the weather would torture Garvey, and his hair would quickly become home to sharp objects, he would love it.  I miss him.  My next move has to include him. Wherever that maybe, he’s got to be alongside me.

My favorite pic of us.

My favorite pic of us.

Why are we still inside?

I facilitated conversations around diversity/cultural competency/intercultural dialogue/inclusion/any other term that means conversations around social constructs

I can’t ignore what happened today.

In the middle, just as the sun rose high and sweat began to form, my heart weighed heavy and settled in near my feet. I couldn’t move because I needed to speak.

*breathe*

The morning’s cooler discussions stepped aside to let the heat in; those discussions of race, power, privilege and “diversity” were tough, much like the gristle on a steak — extra and unwanted and yet digested if and when ingested. I looked across the room and felt heavy. There is so much that we cannot see and yet need for guidance. We have been constructed by external forces to be what makes sense. We’re handed boxes, bags, and miscellaneous containers and urged to put different pieces of ourselves inside until the compilation of our beauty is gone and only “what makes sense” resides. Even if we resist our assignments we’re still boxed along with other resisters. There is so much work to do and so few soldiers.

I’d been feeling mediocre for quite sometime. Today felt like success. Not just for me personally as a facilitator, but on a larger cultural level. I connected with young people in powerful memory crafting ways. These young people are entering into fields of work that are not widely occupied by people of color. Because they have positioned themselves on the fringes of culture their mere presence in this field is shifting the cultural norms of the youth of color with which they work. Their bravery is changing Blackness. Their bravery is changing the norm.

My new success are tied to new experiences that are not traditionally engaged in by people within the mainstream Black culture. Today I was able to serve as mouthpiece for some because of my childhood experiences. I often look back at women and “others” who were fortunate and unfortunate enough to be the firsts in their fields – Jackie Robinson, Huey P. Newton, Angela Davis, Zora Neale Hurston, etc…. My recollection of them was often associated with the longing for notoriety or at the very least the longing to be noticed. I’ve slowly been realizing that I am able to make a difference by just being myself.