They have this newly implemented “community building” thing at the kids’ school where they stay out on the blacktop and do the whole Pledge of Allegiance and sing “This Land is Your Land” and I’m feeling the full force of all the contradictions in the context of where this is happening, and I can’t quite find the words to capture how spiritually damaging this feels as an extension of the fictional narrative it all represents – a narrative that exists under the façade of diversity & inclusion in a land founded on violence and exclusion. The subtlety of the closing – “this land was made for you and me”—somehow equally imposing, feels like a not so subtle indoctrination – a nod to the idea that this land is ours to exploit. Seemingly harmless activities cut deep when I’m trying to teach my guerreras that we belong to the land, as I am faced with the daily reality of having to reinforce their humanity, struggling as best as I can to teach them how to demand to be seen and heard in the fullness of that humanity. When their “peers” have absorbed the idea that because of their last name, their gender, the brownness of their fathers’ skin, their mothers’ long dark hair, and the perceptions about their social class, among several other points of “contention,” they are presumed less than, other, not the “You/Me” the song refers to. And while my determination is fierce, I am saddened by the reality of having to prepare them for battle against these preconceived notions that will be used to justify the exclusion of my guerreras from certain spaces, block their access to resources in areas like health and education, and call on them to show up with constant “proof” of belonging. In preservation of my sanity, I know I’m not alone in this, and we’ll keep tapping in to the magic of the moon and stars, the strength and grace of our dance, the legacy of our ancestors, and the power of speaking our truth as relatives of this land.