Friday, May 29, 2009
why the story matters
This is my parents' story:
One of my parents was an immigrant; my other parent grew up in a Compton project. One of my parents never earned a college degree and worked as a secretary her whole life; my other parent earned his college degree at night school while working in a warehouse and then earned his Masters at the same time i was entering college. Both of my parents were poor, abused, refused housing, worked blue collar jobs or civil servant jobs and yet still managed to buy a home, send two daughters to college and have a good life - all while living in south central L.A.
If we're honest, their stories weren't supposed to end this way. Their stories were supposed to end in the projects or somewhere back in the Philippines.
But their story becomes my story and follows me to grad school, corporate America and it's here with me now.
Why my story (and the story of Ursula Burns or Sonia Sotomayor or my parents) matters:
Because it gives the lie to the story that this world is only for powerful white men. It is a powerful middle finger to the socially constructed, and supported, narrative that women and people of color have a 'place' they need to stay in.
You can call us affirmative action babies; you can say that we aren't qualified or that we stole a job from some long-suffering, more qualified white dude, but who the fuck cares what you say?
(And this is why I love the 'cool' of President Obama. You call him an affirmative action baby? Were you the editor of the Yale law review? Are you the President of the United States? Didn't think so.)
We're going to keep fighting to be in your board rooms, your courtrooms, your senate floors and your offices. And who cares how you say we got there. We got there.
And once we're there, our presence will be a reminder that the story of our 'place' is a lie. It is a horrible, hateful, disgusting lie and we proved it's a lie. Those places you claim as your own will become our places, too. Maybe this is the truth you can't stand. Maybe this is the thing that makes your batshit crazy racist rhetoric so batshit crazy.
The old story of where people like me belong will eventually be chipped away, erased. And even if it won't disappear completely, if it takes another 400 years or so, what gurgling satisfaction there will be when one more of us with a story stands in a room we were never meant to enter.
Our stories don't matter to you?
Our stories aren't for you.