Waking Up Is Hard to Do

Waking up is hard to do.

I awoke from a seminarian nightmare. Perhaps it was simply a school nightmare. I dreamed that I needed to finish four classes to complete my b.a. in order to complete my divinity degree. Thus I was back at the university. The campus resembled my high school in Arizona, or a high school of my dreams. It was familiar. I was involved with a group of Latino students for which I was the only one qualified to be the treasurer, an anxiety in itself. Running from that meeting I missed the scholarship deadline that would pay tuition. The registration lines were so long, I was reduced to searching through the school looking for a teacher, any teacher, to sign my registration form. I finally found an old wood shop teacher to sign the paper even though the classes were Mexican studies. He made a joke about being his signing of the form being providential, and I revealed that I was taking these classes to complete my m.div.

Frankly, blogging about identity this week made me nervous. Some of the identity issues had been addressed last year on the blog. I planned to write one last blog explaining why I call myself UUGreenBeaner on Twitter, then move on to posts about bullying, a topic that weighs heavy on my heart. But, so too, the Arizona ban on ethnic studies has profoundly disturbed me. I was born in Phoenix. The Unitarian Universalist General Assembly will be there in just over two months. I have not returned to Arizona since my paternal grandmother's funeral in 2008, before the draconian SB 1070 passed. Surgery prevented me from going to protest with other Unitarian Universalists the summer in 2010 when it was implemented.

There were only two children in my grandmother's generation. My grandmother was born one hundred years ago this past November, three months before Arizona was admitted as a state. My grandmother's younger brother moved to California during the Great Depression, while grandmother and grandfather stayed in Arizona. They lost their first born to dysentery in the poverty of those times. My grandparent's goal for their children was assimilation because racism was so strong in Arizona. The California relatives speak Spanish, the Arizona relatives did not learn until adulthood, if at all.  I began to piece the story together as my grandmother began to tell me stories when I became an adult, and my mother and my mother's cousin, told me stories about my grandmother.

I was unable to fully appreciate the magnitude of my grandparent's choice for assimilation, however, until the passing of SB1070. An English-only law passed in Arizona in my early adulthood. Although I voted against it, I was ignorant about the deeper ramifications of racism. Upon moving to California, I distanced myself from Arizona intellectually and politically. Unconsciously, though, the state government's fall from merely unequal to openly hostile to the indigenous, the native born and immigrant Hispanic/Latino population has haunted me.

Time to wake up.

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