After, when the sea will curl violently
They will say: “It is the fatal conscience of that girl,
She had many sins because she always lived in verse
And what you do on earth, on earth you pay for.”
—from “After,” by Julia de Burgos
What is truth ? Is it relative to perspective? Is it feelings? Is it what one person says? How do we find the truth about anything?
I struggled with this my whole life. As a child I was taught to obey religion, to blindly obey parents, to obey authoritarian figures. As a young woman, I believed the words of men who claimed true love to me. I put them on pedestals. As I got older and saw the world for what it was, I realized that there was a harsher reality--a more sinister frightening one.
I realized that some people, some societies, and some countries never want to know the truth. They want to live a lie. Elaborate methods are taken to hide the truth. With one lie you have to say another until there are so many, you don’t know fact from fiction. The saddest thing of all is some even die never wanting to know the truth.
I wanted the truth 7 years ago when I went on a quest to find out more about my Puerto Rican heritage. I didn’t know much about it. I was a first generation Puerto Rican. A lot of my childhood was spent not knowing much about it. My parents wanted us to speak English, so we wouldn’t be discriminated against, so I didn’t learn Spanish.
We were Americanized. We were taught to suppress our individuality. I learned it in my textbooks in school. Before the internet, it was hard to find other perspectives on what happened to the Puerto Ricans, so I went on my journey to discover what happened and it was with shock. I felt horror and sadness as I read the truth.
Land was brutally taken away. People were killed. Leaders were imprisoned. Racism was alive and well and ugly. No one listened, no one cared, still some fought bravely on to speak truth. They still do, knowing it’s a losing battle.
What do you do in a world where everyone says you are wrong and they are right? What do you do when popular culture continues to discriminate, condemn, hurt, and bully ?
I got my answer 7 years later. This was and is my answer: you keep speaking the simple truth, loud and clear, over and over and over again.
You may never be heard; the world may never change, but the alternative is dying with a lie and what a terrible legacy to leave.
Even if even one person hears, you have changed the balance. You might even change the world.
"Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth."
- Mahatma Gandhi