By Eva Dickerson, a student majoring in International Studies and Economics at Spelman College. Eva is also a student organizer, leader and community activist.
The first part starts 20 years ago on a Friday. A baby is born screaming, with her eyes open. Since that day, my mom has never stopped telling me: “the nurse laughed, she said you looked like a little old lady. ‘Her eyes are wide! She’s been here before.’”
The second part starts with you. I’ve learned that believing in someone, is to trust them enough to let your heart do the work of separating them from the material.
This great communal love is self-sustaining, a cup that runs over. Everything that I pull from it is replenished tenfold. I am the sum of all the people on earth and beyond who love me most. I am the product of noses wiped, wheelchairs pushed, dinners made, hair braided and so much more. Thank you for taking 2 decades to teach me about making sure they got in the house okay, being honest even when it hurts, doing our least favorite chores, and fighting for a future even your people do not believe is possible. At 40, 60, and 80, I will be just as indebted to you all for your love, if not more so, as I am now. There is no one way to say thank you for something so precious, so I promise to try (hard emphasis on try) and live each of my days as a thank you to the people who love me enough to believe in me.
The climax is a testament to those who came before me. My mother and my father. My people have walked this earth, bled on this earth, and nurtured this earth.
My people birthed this earth.
I have only very recently become spiritual, but I take it very seriously. To live a life as full and as brilliant as this one is something that could have only been ordained by the ancestors and so this day is not a celebration of me, but a veneration of them. To my mother who has quietly taught me activism my entire life, the same way she learned it from her mother. To my father, who raised me on the basic principle that every star in the galaxy is my inheritance, and that all I have to do to claim it is to reach my arms into the night sky. On this day, I recognize the people watching me from places that look like heaven but are a lot less conditional, from other galaxies, from other realms. They are the ones who visit me in my sleep and drop landscapes of freedom in my head, who whisper in my ear in my darkest moments. It is because of them that I am inspired to mold this reality into something cleaner, brighter, lovelier so that when this material body has been long passed, my fiftyleventh great grand baby can shape an even better one.
“We are our grandparent’s wildest dreams.”
This love story doesn’t end. Energy once created cannot be destroyed. It started long before me. Long before Paula and Charles-and it will continue for galaxies and eternities after us- as long as this universe is expanding into nothingness. There will be marks of this story on existences I will never see or comprehend, so I will finish with a promise.
This great and awesome love we have cultivated here permeates every second of my day; it is both a nag and an encouragement. It is this overwhelming love that has taught me to stop looking at freedom as a binary. Simultaneously free and unfree, I am sustained by the tiny victory freedoms that surprise me every day-in the places we are not looking to find them.
All the stars aligned as they did on the second of my birth in a premonition of divinity.
Humbling myself always, I want to live up to this divinity by avenging and uplifting my ancestors. By avenging and uplifting my community.
On this rebirth and the next, forever marching towards victory, onto infinity.