On the move
The news cycle this summer has been brutal and the effects of toxic masculinity on display around the globe - including the fires raging in the Amazon - would seem to leave little reason for hope. I have been struggling to hold onto the sense that my work is meaningful in the face of powerful forces that clearly have no interest in the truth. Last week, I worked on a reporting project on the Mexico-Guatemala border, and I was reminded of how good I feel when I am in the thick of a project, when I am in movement with purpose. While I was on the border, I read a brilliant conversation between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and climate activist Greta Thunberg in which they discuss hope as as something found in action: Ocasio-Cortez tells Thunberg, “From there I learned that hope is not something that you have. Hope is something that you create, with your actions. Hope is something you have to manifest into the world, and once one person has hope, it can be contagious. Other people start acting in a way that has more hope.” What Ocasio-Cortez and Thunberg manifest in the world is contagious, and it is more deserving of our time and energy than any man out in the world burning down the rainforest just because he can as a demonstration of his power.
I traveled to the Mexico-Guatemala border with Mexican photographer Jacky Muniello to work on a project about women & LGBTQ migrants, but while we were there, we witnessed hundreds of African migrants protesting treatment that has resulted from Trump threatening Mexico with tariffs, so I wrote about it for CNN. The African migrants, many fleeing civil wars or countries where members of the LGBTQ community could be stoned to death in the streets, are educated and well-versed in the history of non-violent social movements. As Mexican police and military watched over them, they protested by dancing and playing music on instruments made from plastic water bottles and other recycled materials. They wanted to see my press card, follow me on Twitter and discuss who I should interview for my article. While many migrants who I interview from Central America haven’t finished elementary school and can’t read or write, those I met from Africa often had graduate degrees. Every day, when I went to interview the hundreds of African migrants protesting treatment by Mexican immigration officials, they would ask me if I had published my article yet. They were aware that international press could prevent them from experiencing violence at the hands of the police or army.
The power of being you, the salt of the earth
After returning from reporting on the border, I randomly met a novelist who reminded me of the power of being your genuine, bizarre self. So often, people lead conversations with their ego, which is frankly boring. And so when you suddenly find yourself in front of a genuine weirdo - a person who doesn’t hide who they are to fit in - it feels good. It feels like a reminder to keep being weird and gloriously surprising.