I can’t remember the last time I felt this frustrated and defeated. I’m the worst at writing about personal things, so bear with me.
This week put me on my knees. I feel bruised and battered and hurt. I feel as though all of my efforts and opinions amount and will always amount to nothing.
I joined Harvard’s Latinx community out of a sense of alienation. So many people look back on their freshman year with such fondness and all I remember is being fucking terrified. Aside from the few friends from that year who are still by my side today, freshman year was painful and scary and lonely. Time, involvement in the community, and reflection have shown me that being Latinx at Harvard (and in general) makes it so easy to indefinitely feel lost and ignored.
When my parents left on Sunday I was upset to see them go, but I felt renewed. They’re incredibly proud and happy that I’m here, as am I. And it really did look like I was going to have a good week: Diego Luna came and I was able to see a pre-screening of the Cesar Chavez movie (go see it!), and though I ended up not being able to attend I was happy to hear about the great experiences my friends had talking to Jorge Ramos. And that’s great. We are privileged in so many ways by just attending this school and I’ll always be grateful for and aware of that.
Then came Thursday and a painful online confrontation with a former high school teacher I respected a lot. She offered me a lending hand when I struggled to learn English in high school. She believed in me. Then this week she turned my complaints about the lack of real representation of students of color in this school into a classic "but I’m not a racist/I’m not privileged/not all white people are racists" scenario. She blocked my friends and unfriended me on Facebook. I had my first panic attack in over six years. Fine. Then last night the Latinx orgs had a town hall meeting where we addressed our lack of institutional support (we have no Latinx Studies, no cultural center, and get funded a mere $312 per semester on average by the organization in charge of campus cultural relations) as well as our internal lack of unity. I was pleased to see The Crimson cover the event in a way that really illustrated the environment at the event, but then came the comments. A self-proclaimed “Mexicano, no Latino” who’s been essentially harassing my friends on Twitter for “self-segregating” and being “ungrateful” about going to Harvard compared the NEED for a Latinx Cultural Center with “a center for Drake fans.” He also demanded ~specific examples~ of how it is that we feel we’re being oppressed or ignored, because he just doesn’t believe it. How dare we bite the hand that feeds us?! Like, first of all, are you fucking kidding me? I’m so fucking glad you feel included enough at Harvard — and that’s what we all want for ourselves! Like, really. Shut the fuck up. Oh, and then in the next comment came the point-by-point narration of what happened in the conversation I had with my teacher (no names were dropped, but we know exactly who wrote it and who he was talking about) - IN THE CRIMSON COMMENTS SECTION! Like, great. Whitebro just HAD to bring it back and to an even more public forum because he ~just didn’t appreciate our anger.~ “Oh but I had a Mexican girlfriend and I got harrassed at a quinceañera!” Your life is so hard. My experiences are invalid. My lack of a voice and representation at this school are nothing compared to your hurt feelings.
I just don’t know. I’m so tired of having to constantly defend myself for feeling real feelings. I’ve had it with my experiences being invalidated and silenced both by those in power and by the people you’d think would at least understand where I’m coming from, even if they don’t want to get involved. I truly am happy that there are Latinxs at this school who feel like they don’t need any extra support, but I’m not one of them. Let me live.
Edit: I really don’t know what I would have done without the support of my friends this week. Or, like, always.