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Out of Their Shadow and Into Our Consciousness

by

Nobody is me; There are many like me. My violators are not the Taliban. They are not from the 19th arrondissement in north-eastern Paris. They are not killers with badges. They are not children of migrating landless laborer parents. They are not the US in US v Pfc Manning. My life has no worth in my country’s popular consciousness and my violators roam freely. I am a Dalit, an Adivasi, and no upper-caste hands hold signs with our names.

I live and die and am reborn in their shadow….their calculating minds, their violent arms, their rapist’s thighs, their trampling feet. This soil was once my fertile soil and I walked upon it. Now their collective usurpation has replaced it with chemicals and concrete. And I lie upon it, my feet pointing up at their mind’s gods, waiting to be recognized as a victim of their discrimination. My hands’ actions contradict my dignity and humanity. These are not my arms, but some upper-caste’s other two arms. A mechanical bonus pair, like the Hindu goddesses. A surplus, to be manipulated any which way. My fate is as old as the Hindu scriptures that gave me these wretched arms, and their usurpers have evolved. My once-sympathetic Shudra comrades, born of Purusha’s feet are now the post-1990s neo-Brahmins that stomp on my assertive words of equality with neo-violence.

I show up sometimes as the spirit of unity and solidarity in Declaration of Empathy petitions, but I am still the more than 300,000 defeated hearts of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which failed to recognize me as a victim of descent-based discrimination. Maybe my place is at the back of those ‘I Am’ signs, scribbled in invisible ink: Nobody is Me; There Are Many Like Me.

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Priti Gulati Cox is an interdisciplinary artist, and a local coordinator for the peace and justice organization CODEPINK. She lives in Salina, Kansas, and can be reached at p.g@cox.net. Please click here to see more of her work.

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