Welcome to the first Conversation where Pat Berberich, Lynn Santamaría and Cristina Santamaría Graff discuss what it means to be “Becoming” as we talk about our life purpose as well as the way in which we attempt to align mind, body, and spirit. The PowerPoint provides a layout of our conversation as well as the structure of the discussion. The videos capture our introduction to Becoming (Joy), our group name (and YouTube Channel), and our beginning conversation about what it means to “Become” who we are. Not recorded is the follow-up conversation where we invite individuals to participate in deeper discussion about specific topics.
For those interested in learning more about this group, please contact us at: email@example.com
El Paso, Texas.
Dayton, Ohio. Two cities now forever interconnected in time to horrific acts of
violence originating in fear, perpetrated through hate, and executed with cold intent
to signal, exalt, and glorify a frightening narrative of dominance and dehumanization.
Every eyeful is a litany of blood, grief, and rage. I blink away headlines. Grocery
shopping is now a death wish. Venturing out with friends at night, an act of
If I allow it, fear
will swallow me. I have family in El Paso and Ohio. My parents, my brother’s
family, my husband’s family, and so many of our friends live in California.
Some live within a couple of hours of Gilroy. On my dad’s side of the family,
we are Mexican. We are light-, medium-brown-, and dark-skinned. We are born
here and are immigrants. We are walking targets for using our mother tongue,
for wearing Frida shirts… hell, just for breathing. Spaces we frequent become
traps. We might make a left instead of a right and catch a bullet in the
temple. When the narrative is death, there is no discrimination. The AK-47
becomes adrenaline. Every ‘head up’ is a game piece. It’s better just to lie
down, even if blanketed in your neighbor’s blood.
This fear is real and
is being stoked. If we allow ourselves, we will fall victims to the pervasive language
of fear that aims to further divide us, scare us into giving away our rights
and sovereignty, and prevent us from confronting the miasma of toxicity that
chokes our heart and leaves us hating ourselves, our lives, and those around
us. We need, so desperately, to crack our minds and hearts open like an egg and
wake up. We need to understand that our collective misery has been covertly constructed
to keep us from healing ourselves and finding love for others.
These words have
been incubating. I have been compelled to respond to what I consider to be a
collective manifestation of mass dehumanization. For me, one main way the
dehumanization is perpetuated is through our politician’s empty rhetoric. There
are no genuine feelings of empathy when policy and practice continue to dictate
that human life figures less than weapons’ profit margins. But gun control is
not the focus here nor the intended story. Rather it is what Toni Morrison
refers to as the “systematic looting of language” or when language is used to
dehumanize and to disallow creativity and innovation for the purpose of limiting
our capabilities to co-create knowledge and “encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.”
She writes, “Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is
violence.” I further contend that oppressive language is not only violence but is
a weapon skillfully used to annihilate our empathetic capabilities to feel for
one another as human beings. When sharpened over time, it is like a scalpel that
scrapes away or cuts out that which is determined to be ‘diseased.’ To harness
language against a group of people for the purpose of claiming power
over them is to deliberately strip them of their humanity. In doing so,
they become objects. Objects are easily removed, displaced, or thrown away. And,
if the soul is deeply clouded, no guilt is attached to this dispossession and
In waking up to the
news that Toni Morrison had died yesterday, my first thought was that she was
deliberately providing some balance to the scales. It felt as if her death was
a direct response to the mass shootings that were rooted in racial hatred.
Her death, to me, is a counternarrative against violence inflicted upon those who have been historically oppressed because of gender, color of skin, ability, religious-affiliation, and other markers of difference that contribute to the overarching prism of humanity. The timing of her passing feels like an exclamation point in reaction to the disingenuous platitudes of commiseration exercised in front of cameras and read off of teleprompters. Her death is a call for authentic discourse that recognizes that silence between open hearts speaks more loudly than hasty, fleshless words. Her counter urges resistance and the fight against “rousing language to keep citizens armed and arming; slaughtered and slaughtering.” Her death reminds us to stay steady through these violent times, to not yield to fear, and to love each other courageously – gripping hands together as we lead each other through the darkness.
Quotations by Toni Morrison were taken from her Nobel Lecture on December 7, 1993.