The Underbelly of the Matter

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Written by Fidgit

“.  .  .  But while your sons commit the unpunishe’d wrong,
you make the arm of violence too strong.”
-The Odyssey

In the previous post, I referred briefly to having to rely on privilege to make it through the numerous police encounters on this journey. Generally in my writing I paint the flowery stories, of matters like lucky border crossings; because there is enough darkness in the world and daily news, because I believe there is power in perspective and keeping it positive is important to nurture that. I also believe we cannot fully appreciate one side of something without understanding the other. In this post I dig into the soil beneath, to aerate those thoughts.

Often as we hike Neon and I discuss the -isms. We read material, deconstruct interactions, unpack what we were taught as kids. They are exercises in awareness. This walk demands and is enriched by awareness not only of physical surroundings but social interactions and the context in which they arise. For example, that we have been treated particularly well because we are American and because we are white.


Racism is.
And it is everywhere.

I have spent one third of my life abroad. Largely but not completely overlapping that is the third of my life spent as a race minority. Yet I cannot speak to suffering from racism, in fact, quite the opposite. The color of my skin makes it more likely that I am treated with greater care and compassion than sometimes even is shown to compatriots. This is privilege, which in our ongoing walking debates we have come to equate with “positive racism.”

My entire life I have been coddled and lulled by privilege. Raised as a minority and often treated as a cut above, I was all but offended when my family moved to suburban United States and I became one of the mill. It was years beyond then that I considered what it might feel like to be on the other side.

Rahawa Haile, a recent AT thru-hiker tells it poignantly in an article we have been discussing. Here is an excerpt I spent some time grappling with:

Two weeks later, at Trail Days, there’s a parade celebrating current and past hikers. A black man with the trail name Exterminator aims a water gun at a white crowd as he moves along. He shoots their white children. They laugh and shoot back with their own water guns. This goes on for 30 yards. I pause to corral my galloping anxiety. He is safe, I tell myself. This event is one of the few places in America where I don’t fear for a black man with a toy gun in a public setting.

My initial reaction was that my gut sank. I felt sad that she should feel fear in the midst of a celebration. I quickly buried that, telling myself, “Well, she was overreacting.” It took me a week of walking with that, then when I voiced it to Neon, I heard my error immediately. We have created a nation where she has more than ample cause to feel that anxiety and my narrative arose only to console myself. *privilege*

There is no way Her Odyssey could achieve our objective without the exceptional support and cooperation of the police and border agents. We are privileged to feel secure in approaching almost any branch of military or police officials and expect to receive protection and aid. We have been afforded even more than that; more patience and kindness than most can expect. Even and especially in own own country, where increasingly marginalized citizens and non-citizens (like what we are here) are targeted.


At the North Dakota Access Pipeline Protest, at its height.

There is a reason that Black Lives Matter deserves validation and support of people of every color. There is reason that the Sanctuary movement is on the rise in the United States.  These causes did not begin because everyone is making the effort to humanize each other. They arose because people were and are being disenfranchised and bulldozed.

In the absence of a system the people can trust, community and church stand up for those who are being stripped of humanity. As I write this my friend Jeanette Vizguerra hides out in a church in Denver, over 2 months since ICE officials took action to deport her just before her hearing.

Jeanette and Roberto

Jeanette and her son, Roberto, doing what they do best, living as activists. Pictured here at a hunger strike in DC in 2016. (from her Public Facebook)

Everyone has a face; everyone has a story; it is the work of each of us to seek that out in each other. No one is a lottery number, a Visa stamp, a color of skin, or the language they speak. The policies we support affect people, affect families, affect our future, and how the rest of the world sees us.

How the United States of America behaves echoes across the globe. The about face we have made seems almost comical. Weren’t we the ones pushing for globalization when it suited us? Forcing it, even?

The policies we make and pursue are directly affecting your neighbors and, for me selfishly, are setting the stage to make future legs of our journey more dangerous than they already are.

Lives are being lost, families are being torn apart, dangerous international precedents are being set, and my concern is that it is trending in a direction which could threaten mine and Neon’s plans somewhere on down the road. *privilege*

Each time I come into reach of news, it rends my heart and I want to run home, to march, to scream, to fight for what is right. And yet I feel impotent and small. I think many of us do. Our hearts are broken and our spirits ache. Many of us have shared the grief in private conversations. We wonder how much more we can take.


Mountains heal all for me, so I seek a surfeit.

What I do know, is this:
Closing down and shutting others out, be it from our countries or our perspectives, is not the answer. The greatest tools I have found to address racism when I encounter it in myself and those around me are: reflection, education, and compassion.

I have walked and thought long and hard on these things. I will continue to do so and my perspective will evolve. I cannot do much but what I can, I will.
This is my testament.

As many marches, protests, and peace walks take place across our nation and our globe, Her Odyssey is my march for equality. I march with blood in my veins and on my hands.


La parte no placentera de lo que importa.

Escrito por Fidgit
Traduccion por Henry Tovar

“… Pero mientras que sus hijos cometen el mal impune ,

tu haces el brazo de la violencia demasiado fuerte. “

-La odisea

En este post, intento cavar en el suelo que da raíz a este tipo de interacciones y para airear algunos de los pensamientos que han surgido. A menudo mientras caminamos Neon y yo discutimos temas como racismo, privilegio, sesgo; Cómo comparamos mientras trabajamos en nuestra conciencia. Conciencia no sólo del entorno físico, sino también de las interacciones sociales y del contexto en el que surgen. Por ejemplo, que hemos sido tratados particularmente bien porque somos americanas y porque somos blancas.


Toda mi vida he sido mimada y consentida por el privilegio. Criada como una minoría y a menudo tratada como de clase alta, yo me sentí ofendida cuando mi familia se mudo a los suburbios de Estados Unidos y me convertí en una más de la cuenta. Fueron años más allá de eso que incluso consideré lo que podría sentirse al estar en el otro lado. Rahawa Haile lo dice conmovedoramente en un artículo que hemos estado discutiendo.

No hay manera que Her Odyssey lograra cumplir sus objetivos sin el apoyo y cooperación excepcionales de la policía y los agentes fronterizos. Tenemos el privilegio de sentirnos seguras al acercarnos a casi cualquier rama de oficiales militares o policiales y esperamos recibir protección y ayuda.

Se nos ha dado incluso más que eso; Más paciencia y amabilidad de lo que la mayoría puede esperar. Incluso y sobre todo en nuestro propio país, donde los ciudadanos y no ciudadanos están siendo cada vez más marginados (como lo que estamos aquí).

Por “objetivo” me refiero a cualquiera de las decenas de famosos y cientos y miles de casos ignorados de personas pisoteadas; Negado la entrada, deportados, detenidos ilegalmente; Golpeado hasta la muerte, disparado en la espalda; la lista continua. Yo espero que llegue pronto a su fin.


En la protesta de North Dakota Access Pipeline, en su apogeo.

Hay una razón que el movimiento del santuario está en subida en los Estados Unidos. Hay una razón por la que Black Lives Matter merece la validación y el apoyo de personas de todos los colores. Hay una razón por la que miles acudieron a la protesta de la tubería de acceso de Dakota del Norte. Estas causas no se iniciaron porque todos están haciendo el esfuerzo de humanizarse unos a otros. Se levantaron porque la gente era y está siendo privada de sus derechos y pisoteada.
Ese cuadro es comunidad e iglesia tratando de defender a aquellos que están siendo despojados de su humanidad. Mientras escribo esto, mi amiga Jeanette Vizguerra se esconde en una iglesia en Denver mientras los funcionarios de ICE toman medidas para deportarla justo antes de su audiencia para obtener la ciudadanía.

Jeanette and Roberto
Todo el mundo tiene una cara; todos tienen una historia; Es el trabajo de cada uno de nosotros buscar eso uno en el otro. Nadie es un número de lotería, un sello Visa, un color de piel, el valor de su tierra, o el idioma que hablan. Las políticas que apoyamos afectan a las personas, afectan a las familias, afectan nuestro futuro y cómo nos ve el resto del mundo.

Cómo se comportan los Estados Unidos de América hace eco en todo el mundo y algunos de los mensajes procedentes de la tierra que me amo están enviando ondas de choque de dolor y desconfianza. Las políticas que hacemos y seguimos están afectando directamente a sus vecinos y, para mí egoístamente, están preparando el escenario para hacer que las futuras piernas de nuestro viaje sean más peligrosas de lo que ya son.


Las montanas sanan todo por mi, asi que busco un exceso.

Las vidas se están perdiendo diariamente y mi preocupación es que está tendiendo en una dirección que podría amenazar y los planes míos y de Lauren en alguna parte del camino. Esta es la grosería de mi privilegio. Pienso más en mi propio interés en el largo plazo que en el de otros en el inmediato.

Es una frustración con la que camino. Cada vez que llego al alcance de las noticias, desgarra mi corazón y quiero correr a casa, marchar, gritar, luchar por lo que es correcto. Y sin embargo me siento impotente y pequeña. Creo que muchos de nosotros lo hacemos. Nuestros corazones están rotos y nuestros espíritus duelen. Compartimos el dolor en las conversaciones privadas. Nos preguntamos cuánto más podemos tomar antes de quebrarnos?

He caminado y pensado largo tiempo en estas cosas. No puedo hacer mucho pero lo que pueda, lo haré.

Este es mi testamento. Como muchas marchas, protestas y paseos por la paz tienen lugar en toda nuestra nación y nuestro planeta, Her Odyssey es mi marcha por la igualdad. Marcho con sangre en mis venas y en mis manos.

Si mi vida es tomada por otro ser humano, no les reprochéis su rabia, frustración y desesperación. Todos somos cómplices. Sangre se derrama de las plumas de nuestros funcionarios y se seca en los documentos que permitimos para formar nuestro futuro. Así como lo han hecho durante miles de años y seguirán haciéndolo, mientras persista la humanidad.

La única diferencia que puedo ver es, este es nuestro tiempo, este es nuestro ahora. ¿Qué estamos haciendo al respecto?


14 thoughts on “The Underbelly of the Matter

  1. keyworthgraphics says:

    beautiful write up. again. i feel the compassion and poignancy in your tone. i am afraid, but don’t let it paralyze me. i try to use the fear to empower me to be a vehicle for positive vibrations to emanate into the world, acting righteously, and trying to encourage people to see all sides of each story.

    • Fidgit says:

      Will, your vibrations have ripples and emanate them through everyone you have known and touched. I am proud to be a part of that. Together, let us be a web of hope and perseverance.

  2. clucas34996 says:

    I really appreciated this post. I lost my election for State House this past election but I sat there that night, not stunned that I lost MY race, but stunned that I personally felt that America lost. I have spent lots of years and days of my life traveling to countries where I was a minority too. Places where women were treated differently and white women especially. I appreciate you bringing a voice to a lot of what I and many other feel. Long distance walking is a great way to ruminate on thoughts like a animal does on their cud. Since my loss I have been doing just that, sorta gone inward and thought about what this all means. I am sure my perspective will evolve much like yours will over the miles. Peace and good will for your miles ahead.

    • Fidgit says:

      I think we each have our seasons and sometimes have to be like a seed; to go underground, wait in peace and patience. I celebrate the spirit you bring to your journey and am deeply grateful that you lend your thoughts and time to ours.

  3. songsta says:

    thank you for this beautiful post. I’ve been thinking about many of the same things; I’m sure many of us have. as I grow older, I’m strangely finding that there are things that are clear cut, even in this complex world. there is good and evil, including within us. I’m actively trying to promote the good and not sit still and silent while others are propagating evil. I’ve come to the realization that it is important for all of us who are compassionate to speak truth to power and to stay engaged.

    • Fidgit says:

      This is an encouraging reply! Reflection AND action are both important pieces. Protect and project your compassion and speak up. Thank you for sharing.

  4. NEMO says:

    Thank you for your thoughts Fidgit. It is so hard to remain engaged during this endless 100 days of battle. Even the best of us are dismayed and wounded. The people take to the streets and it feels so right, so beautiful, so freeing, that we do it again and again even if it doesn’t work. We need to feel something beautiful by standing together. In this respect, it is harder for you because you are an army of 2. But you march nonetheless. And I do think you are brave and lucky and will eventually run out of privilege and have some scary encounters, and for that, you need to carry some extra undies. Don’t forget that everywhere you go the main problem is hypocrisy. We try to be something we perhaps are not, just little apes after all. Try as we may to be noble and civilized, are we?

    • Fidgit says:

      I believe in your activism, all you are teaching your little one and showing the world. The root of community standing together, I believe is the foundation of what will get us through.
      Most apes even prefer community. A group is called a shrewdness.
      How cool is that?!

  5. weischer1048 says:

    Great, your words really make one think! And agreed with your way of seeing life, and people. And believe that fm our humble “place” we are into, we can do only our best, pray a lot and through our faith in God, leave His Hands free to do His work. Even if His work seems , sometime, hard to understand.

  6. Jonathan Black says:

    Epic suffer-fests and quests such as this always bring humility. With time and luck, they also offer introspection and personal growth. It is clear that you two are growing ever more humble, kind and wise. Keep walking and you will come out as true philosophers!

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