We’re Here Walking Each Other Home

5RaquelRiveraR. Flowers Rivera,
McKinney, TX.

The most aware I’ve ever been of race was when my family moved from Gulfport, Mississippi, to New Fairfield, Connecticut, during the 1980s. At that time, New Fairfield was a town with a population of about 10,000 in which there were three Black children, all of whom were in my family. I was the only Black person in the high school; my sister was the only one in the middle school, and my brother in the elementary. Beyond the regional culture shock, this move cemented my identity as an outsider, one who would perpetually find difficulty belonging, but who yet had a heightened sense of empathy for anyone who was different. Those were grueling years, living in what I perceived to be a fishbowl because of my intrinsic desire to excel combined with wanting to represent my race well. I like to think I’ve moved beyond such binaries—but I know better. Now, what I’ve come to both as a writer and a teacher is that I’m here to witness for other people, to let them know I see them as they are, to help negate what can result in a sense of erasure. because as Ram Dass states so beautifully, “We’re all just here walking each other home.”

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