What does the color of my skin mean in this activist community?
I did not come to the desert as a self-identifying "woman of color" from Duke, but have been made hyper-conscious of it during the last six weeks. Why are members of certain border organizations all of the same race? Why can't we question it? Why isn't it already being questioned? Before arriving, I might have said that there was no reason to question it--we are all drawn to a common cause, regardless of race and culture. But there is such a poignant difference between groups. Racial makeup is by no means a measure of efficacy or authenticity--yet why are my group members and I are afraid to bring it up in conversation with community members? It feels like the untouchable topic; the elephant in the room. How can we ignore race? Particularly in the racially charged environment in which we work?
The fragmentation of the activist community here makes me uncomfortable. Imagine the work that could be done if all groups came together! But, instead we allow ourselves to stand divided by our own micro-borders, our own inability to listen and compromise. My own feeling is that all groups acknowledge the division, but have already concluded on their own that collaboration is impossible and unnecessary to the achievement of their objectives. How can we stand divided in what we call a "war-zone"? One voice at a time will not change policy and I am frustrated by the pride and reluctance that keeps us from screaming at the world as one united front.
The irony of it all is the fact that our border problem cannot be solved without the collaboration of the US and Mexican governments. We speak of national borders and lines as the enemy. Why not address our own micro-borders first?