Today, I go to work as a midwife, humbled to care for and serve communities on the South Side of Chicago. I do so purposefully and intentionally, seeking to bring holistic, respectful, evidence-based, and individualized care to Latin@s, Black, and African American families, who may otherwise not have access to midwifery care. I do so purposefully and intentionally, working in a federally qualified health center, subsidized by the government to provide free and low cost healthcare for the socially disadvantaged, underserved, and highest need. I do so as a former global health worker, recognizing the Gambian, Honduran, Malawian, and Haitian spirits and hearts in the faces and hands of every person I care for in my current city. I do so because I believe healthcare is a human right. I do so because I believe everyone deserves the same care I want for my family, and because I see every person in my care as my family. I do so because I find my home in midwifery, my home in my community, my home as a global citizen, and my home in others.
High level debates over refugee resettlement stem from an historical othering, a cultural amnesia of acquired and undeserved privilege, and a capitalistic and patriarchal lie that there isn’t enough for everyone. Some cannot see the home in themselves, and thus cannot see the need for a home in others. These debates delay necessary immediate action. These debates distance the conversation from dead toddlers washing up on beaches, women experiencing preterm birth on imaginary country borders, and families dying in unison from lack of food. These debates put at arms length the conversation that those conversing about the limbo of others do so within the safety of their homes; those about whom we converse, do not. Resettlement is an academic allusion to a time period of homelessness.
This nation’s killing of Black people, facilitated by racial infrastructure, white patriarchy, and communities siloed by established and rationalized marginalization and segregation, has led to national and passionate outcry for recognition for home within each other, and a recognition that within each of us is a home, a neighbor to the other, and a community amongst ourselves. Debates about #BlackLivesMatter vs #AllLivesMatter distance the conversation from decades of purposeful substandard housing, systemic racism in educational systems, and targeted violence against women of color. These debates put at arms length the conversation about the dramatic changes needed in this country to dismantle a hierarchical structure that promotes the rights and voices and lives of certain skin colors.
The historical basis of the Thanksgiving holiday as a people murdered, their land claimed by others, their culture simultaneously appropriated and diminished, and current Native peoples partitioned onto lands forgotten by many, must be a story revisited every. single. year. Our historical knowledge of the migration of Jews and their treatment on an international scale should provide enough for a reconsideration of our approach to Syrian refugees, but also the continued resettlement of refugees in camps across the globe, who have been living in transient homes for years. History repeats itself, history is present, pay attention to the fucking now. Entire peoples are seeking safety, whether Syrian refugees fleeing from their country or Black communities fighting for rights within the United States.
Especially this year, I am reflecting on the concept of home, homelessness, and what it is that we see in another human being that calls our empathy, understanding, care, and outreach. For me, it is home.
Chicago, my current city, my current home, is not a home for many. The murder of Laquan McDonald, killed over a year ago, is only fully reaching the public knowledge this week with the release of the video of his assassination by a Chicago Police Officer. Refugees fleeing war and persecution and gender-based violence are brought into my city by amazing organizations like Refugee One, and even within the confines of four walls and a roof, seek new definitions of home. Freezing temperatures and inches of snow have our chronic homeless population seeking warmth and nutrition, basic needs and yet difficult to find.
Today I go to work as a midwife. Today I go into my community as a person. Today I go into the world as someone with a home, seeking to see the home within others, and offering my own as solace. Today I give thanks for the home I have, the home others give me within themselves, and those seeking homes who find them. Today I give thanks to my friends out on the front lines of activism and voice and passion, finding home with others doing the same, and screaming at others to acknowledge their home in the world. Today I give thanks for the privilege I have been given, undeserved, and continue to seek how I can use that for betterment of those seeking homes in the world around me. Today, I acknowledge my home, and welcome others into it.