A space for joy

This article was originally published in People & Places: Social Justice at the U.

When you’re at the edge of hope, you wonder how wide the bridge is that will carry you over. When you affirm your experience, you wonder who will accept it. When you name the injustices, you wonder who will join your revolution. When you live at the intersection of so many struggles, you wonder where you will find the space for joy.

This year feels both momentous and like a replay of what we’ve lived for generations. An Indian American woman, a Black woman, and a daughter of immigrants is the vice president of the United States. At the same time, we continue to fight for justice for Breonna Taylor. Pete Buttigieg became the first openly gay cabinet member confirmed and the LGBTQIA+ community continues to work for the right to be protected from discrimination. We wait, our humanity on pause, as debate about the Equality Act centers on whether our existence is worthy of equal protection under the law.

True progress can only be made when the intersectionality of our existence is centered and our wholeness embraced.

During Pride Week at the U, I’m reminded of all we have to celebrate and the long journey ahead to achieve equity. Throughout the country, in our state, and in our campus community, we have been faced with reminders that we continue to be pushed further into the margins. We are asked to simultaneously hold joy and grief in our spirits as we fight to make space for the intersections. Our narrative doesn’t fit into a convenient headline, our lives require a more multidimensional discussion that White supremacy would prefer to silence. My siblings, women of color, trans women, those most impacted by inequity breathe and fight and push and start again. Our communities don’t have the option to float in and out of movements, we hold them in our bodies.

At times, it can feel defeating to celebrate only to get up the next day to what seems like endless attacks on our community. In spaces where our love, our gender expression, our race, and our intersectional voices are questioned, our joy is revolutionary.

Today we celebrate sustained by those who fought to center our stories.

Today we celebrate because we resist the simple narrative that negates our truth.

Today we celebrate because when you’re forced to the edges, you hold each other and build your own bridge.

Today we celebrate because our joy in the face of it all is revolutionary.