Reimagining Belonging with a CoFED Racial Justice Fellow

Written by Kriss Mincey, 2019 CoFED Racial Justice Fellow

When I applied for the CoFED Racial Justice Fellowship, I wrote that racial justice is about making the case for belonging, and that belonging is about “who gets to imagine themselves here.” I proposed a Universal Design Sensory Food Garden™ (UDSFG) accessible to people using wheelchairs and with otherwise variant mobility. I think this work is incredibly important because it can heal the effects of gendered racial trauma, ableism, and other experiences that are symptomatic of being marginalized as “other” in proximity to whiteness (1). 

But the lesson that meant the most over the course of this fellowship was being reminded, to no avail, frankly, that I could finally stop making the case for my belonging.

By indulging the reflex I think we all experience to get the go-ahead of approval from “allies,” potential funders–writing endlessly, emoting endlessly, explaining and defining and naming endlessly–we reinforce the notion that we have to exist in their imagination, not ours, in order to be real, valid and worth loving.

Who am I in my own mind? Do I belong yet? Can I stretch my imagination big enough to hold and accept myself when I have nothing to show [in terms of a product/deliverable]?