I am angry almost every day.
I am angry about many things. The anger that has most shaped my feelings and perspective is derived from the painful reality that the state killed my mother. She wasn’t shot or beaten. The source of her mistreatment was the day-to-day violence of indifference with which the state treated her and mothers and grandmothers like her. The state killed my mother by not taking seriously the life of an undocumented, or perceived to be undocumented, poor, uninsured Latina woman. She died from breast cancer holding my brother’s hand in our home.
I am angry. I’ve had a steady presence of fury since I was a young man. My formative years were spent looking for and discovering constructive outlets for these feelings.
As a teenager my anger pivoted around the increasing awareness of how limited the opportunities were for my immediate community: hearing brilliant talented friends talk about the school counselor trying to convince them that they would never go to college. Noticing when I would go to conferences outside of my city how much more resources other schools had. Realizing how much of a tragedy it was that of the approximately 1,000 high school freshman I started with it would eventually whittle down to 500. Of those 500, maybe 40 would go to a four-year university and I being one of maybe five that choose to go to a well known private school. While I spent hours learning how to manage my fury I couldn’t ignore what I could see and the despair and pain I felt on a regular basis. I do think this journey led me into activism and wanting to confront who appears to be an oppressive force.