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Conscience Magazine

A Deep, Collective Breath of Relief

By Karla Gonzales Garcia December 18, 2020

Seventeen years ago, I moved to the US. In a little town in the mountains of Colorado, I found the much needed space to start the long and hard path of my healing journey. Who would have imagined that it was in my long walks through tall aspen trees, old evergreens and the sweet and grounding smell of nature that I would find within me the courage to show up for myself? To be with myself. To come back … home.

For many members of my community, this election cycle meant survival on this stolen land. They have felt the emotional toll of the cruel and barbaric actions of this administration. Living in constant terror of being separated from your loved ones or seeing your children put in cages. All of this, in the middle of a global pandemic.

You made a decision at the ballots this year. However you cast your vote, you chose. No one forced you one way or another. So, why are we still having conversations about the very personal decisions women and pregnant people must make about their pregnancies and according to their lived experiences?

We have seen this administration wreak havoc on our reproductive freedom, including forced sterilizations in a private detention center in Georgia. Those harassing, demonizing and putting the lives of pregnant people in danger are emboldened by an administration that will go to great lengths to take our decisionmaking away from us. From voting rights to the very personal decision to parent or not to parent, this is not about “saving lives.” This is about exercising power upon our bodies.

The resiliency and warrior spirit of our communities have shown up in unimaginable ways to defeat tyranny, including the highest voter turnout ever seen in the short history of Western governance of this stolen land. Even with the amount of voter suppression used to invalidate the votes of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in different states, we stood up and confronted the very systems set to disenfranchise us, particularly from our own dignity and humanity.

The manufactured mass media tried to minimize and undermine the transformative power and work of our communities. News outlets and articles described how we didn’t show up in “their” ways, but explicitly omitted how more than half of white men and white women showed up to favor fascism, one of the many symptoms of the illness that is white supremacy in this country.

No matter how hard we—BIPOC—work at organizing and educating and repairing the broken trust from decades of damaging policies that has caused our communities to work in low-wage jobs with no workplace protections, have little to no access to quality healthcare or to decide between risking our health or bringing food to the table in a middle of a pandemic, in their eyes, we will never be or do enough.

With little to no resources, we were able to bring about one of the biggest celebrations this country ever experienced. We were able to help all of us, as a collective, take the deepest breath and feel the intensity of collective relief. This is what love looks like in public.

The hard work started the day after the election results. Our work, narratives and stories will be put on a validation trial. This is not new to us. It is part of the long historical set of tactics to vanish our experiences. It is part of the decades of systemic gaslighting of our communities in order to take our voices away and maintain the dominant discourse of power.

Who would have imagined that it was far away from my family, in a country so different and stranger than mine that I would find the space to release the immense pain that inundated my soul for so long? Who would have imagined that it was in this moment in time and space I found the meaning of collective healing through a deep collective breath of relief? If we were able to do this, I believe we can accomplish more. We just need to imagine it.

Karla Gonzales Garcia
Karla Gonzales Garcia

is Policy Director at the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR).