If You Really Knew Me: MOSAIC and Building a Peaceful Future
Myself, my co workers, and first years from my affiliated college went throught a mandatory training called MOSAIC. This social justice organization “works toward a peaceful future by uniting [people] of diverse backgrounds, providing them with essential community building skills, and empowering them to become peacemakers… and inspire action” (www.mosaicproject.org). Through this four hour training, we started with community building activities, but as it went on, we began to touch on topics that were sensitive yet important.
Once everyone was comfortable in the space, we participated in an activity called “Stand With Me If…”. A series of questions were asked, and if the statement applied to you, you had the option of crossing the line. Through this activity, I began to see the lives of others unfold before me. Their, my, interesecting identities filled the space as we saw others step over the line for: gun violence, domestic violence, racism and police brutality, etc. The voices that had previously strayed from the activity when it began were silent. This was the second eye opening moment for me during the training.
The first, however, was an activity called “If You Really Knew Me”. We were separated into groups of five and given two minutes to say statements about ourselves that began with “if you really knew me”. This helped me realize intersecting identities on an individual level. Whereas, the previous activity allowed me to see intersecting identities and experiences on a larger scale. To empower myself and others to think about these intersecting identities, I am choosing to share my statements:
“If you really knew me, you would know that my name is Meesh. If you really knew me, you would know that I identify as a genderqueer lesbian. And if you really knew me, you would also know that it has taken me a long time to become open about my sexuality and gender identity. If you really knew me, you would know that people close to me and strangers have verbally attacked, harassed, and ostracized me for my sexuality and gender identity. If you really knew me, you would know that I have been called a “dyke”, “fag”, “mentally ill”, and “disturbed” (amongst other stronger choice words) for being queer. If you really knew me, you would know that I struggle daily with gender dysphoria. However, if you really knew me, you would know that cutting my hair short has lessened the amount of dysphoria that I experience. If you really knew me, you would know that I have been Wiccan for almost five years, but have only been practicing for three years. If you really knew me, you would know that I hate the representation of Wicca, Paganism, and other polytheistic religions in the media. If you really knew me, you would know that the misrepresentation of Wicca has lead to various microagressions when discussing my religious beliefs. If you really knew, you would definitely know that no matter the slurs or the negative experiences, I will fight for my right to coexist peacefully with my intersecting identities.”
Acknowledging intersecting identities and how people’s lives are affected by said identities is an integral part of building a peaceful future. Through activities like “If You Really Knew Me” and “Stand With Me If…”, we are not only learning more about our own intersectional identities, but we are acknowledging the valid experiences of others with different intersecting identities [unlike our own]. Desmond Tutu, a South African social rights activist and retired bishop, once said “We must be ready to learn from one another, not claiming that we alone possess all truth” (www.goodreads.com). We must learn from each other’s experiences to create a peaceful future. Sympathize with others’ valid experiences and think about how we can benefit from the knowledge. Discuss the hardships that marginalized groups face and build community. Mutual respect, open mindedness, self respect, attitude, individuality, and community (MOSAIC). Let us become peacemakers and educators, building a peaceful future for the future generations to come.
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