Geronimo

The 20s are all about going all in. Putting your entire self out there for everyone to see can be both the most terrifying and empowering thing at the same time. What a rush it is to be completely vulnerable but with it comes the potential backlash of exposing yourself. It's like charging into battle, sure you may have the element of surprise but if opposing forces overwhelm by shear number then guerrilla warfare tactics won't do you any good. Say Geronimo all you want but it may not always go the way you plan. Bombs away!

*Check out my article of the colorblind approach to race and racism (published in USA Today College) and the inspiration of this post, indie Australian band Sheppard's "Geronimo."

One of my favorite days in history (if I can authentically claim such a thing) was the day I learned about the Bedonkohe Apache tribesman Goyathlay also known as Geronimo. After a brutal raid on his tribe that claimed the lives of his mother, wife, and three children, he vowed vengeance against the Mexicans and Americans who had violated his family and his land. The irony of his native name is that is means "one who yawns" but his nickname, Geronimo, has become synonymous with a loud battle cry meaning no fear. He led bands of indigenous peoples against Mexican and United States troops often dodging capture and escape with impressively fearless tactics from 1858 to about 1886. He was dubbed "the worst Indian who ever lived" by the white settlers at the time and eventually was forced to surrender as one of the last indigenous peoples to refuse to accept the American imperialism of the west. From there he became famous after being showcased in the World's Fair and even was part of President Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade in 1905. He died of pneumonia but it is rumored that he continued fighting in all senses of the word until his dying breath. So I say Geronimo, I salute you. Your unwavering resistance, daring maneuvers, and bold declarations are what I hope to embody.

Last Tuesday was one of those surreal days that you don't even believe is happening even as it occurs. My university decided to hold an open forum for community members to express their feelings about the racial injustice, dehumanization of people of color, and police brutality that had sent the nation into an uproar in the wake of the grand jury decisions following the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. Honestly, it was barely a start but better than nothing (that attitude is kind of like what it's like to hold a subordinated identity - taking what you can get instead of demanding always what you deserve - equity and equality). The president of the university and other administrators expressed their sorrows. Community members alike spoke the truths of their realities but I realized it wasn't hitting home enough with the crowd that gathered. I knew what I had to do. I knew I had to say something. I knew I had to say Geronimo and just do it. And so I did.
 
What happened next was nothing like I could have ever imagined. I spoke from the very depths of my heart and soul, letting the rawness of me be shown for all to see. I shared feeling invisible, disregarded, and disrespected by the apathy of the university, my peers, and friends. Those three words - apathy, ignorance, and silence along with my call for all to outwardly demonstrate their love for their friends who were impacted most closely - shook the entire space. I sweated all my clothes out. I was shaking with nervousness and on the verge of tears. I made my way back to my seat as a couple hundred people clapped, erupted in cries of solidarity, and broke down. The forum ended and over 20 people came to tell me that they saw me and that my words resonated deeply with them. The hugs and kind words just came and came. I saw grown, meticulously put together people succumb to crying fits like never before. There was so much emotion in the room. It was unreal. Me giving up what I was feeling and getting real drove what was going on all the home. My leap of faith, my laying of the cards, my Geronimo had been well worth it.

The rest of the day included another debriefing session which was way less fruitful and a solid 16 hours straight of editing my final paper for my senior seminar religion class. For the third day straight I did not sleep, instead plunging myself into academia revising, adding, and improving my paper. It was a challenge but after what I had done earlier that day, anything was possible. I was due to depart for the airport at 4AM but a heavy snow filled blizzard descended upon Burlington and had me cancelling/rescheduling flights eight different times. Wednesday came and I dropped my paper off, returned my library books, and gave a gift the bus driver who goes out of her way to make sure getting home from campus is convenient for me. I was ready to head to the airport with my friend Sam but no such luck. Just as I arrived another flight was cancelled and the snow was coming down like the paratroopers who would shout "Geronimo" back in the day. We ventured to Chipotle where it was a ghostly white town there. We picked up some stranded UVMers and got stuck in traffic taking them where they needed to go. I ended up back at my apartment with my luggage to sleep it off. I was ready to embrace it and just go with it, Geronimo.

Thursday morning I woke up in a puddle of my own sweat. All my clothes were dripping wet. The air was humid and the weird kind of warm. My roommate Zach and I conferred figuring out the heater had broken and our apartment was a scorching 95 degrees. It was a heatwave in Vermont winter. Windows open with flurries blowing in, melted chocolate all around, and a laundry run made up our morning. I called the airline again and was able to get a last minute flight out instead of having to wait until Sunday. We packed our stuff and had our buddy Dom drop us off. It was final goodbyes as he'd graduated and was leaving Burlington for the forseeable future. Again I had to change my flights at the airport and even schooled the agent in coming up with ways for me to go home. Nine hours later through DC, a food stop for Five Guys Burgers & Fries + Cinnabon, and taking to the skies, I landed in Cincinnati. My eldest brother, Rocky, and mom came to retrieve me. A wild three days had come to a close and I was in the safety of my own home. Geronimo.

My blog post question for the day is ... when was a time recently where you laid everything out on the table? I guess I don't do it as often as I would think. I think I prefer being indirect in saying what I really need to say and having people decipher it instead.

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