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Poem presented in a diamond shape to be read in any order. Obligations 2 by Layli Long Soldier. As we embrace resist the future the present the past we work we struggle we begin we fail to understand to find to unbraid to accept to question the grief the grief the grief the grief we shift we wield we bury into light as ash across our faces
Obligations 2 by Layli Long Soldier

At SJF, we try to send an email once a week. Besides the tactical considerations for engagement (yada yada), it genuinely feels essential for us, as a community-based foundation, to maintain relationship with you by sharing our excitement, our progress, the stories of our grantees and members, and the things we’re learning.

But there are hard weeks like this one when putting on that stalwart, determined voice feels almost impossible. I sit and stare at my computer screen, feeling my humanity dwindle away as I assume a voice that—for all intents and purposes—is supposed to foster human connection. So this week we’re getting a little more personal.

There is, as always, so much going on in the world right now. SJF sends our hearts and solidarity to those in crisis:

To all the folks in Portland affected by the violence of white supremacist Benjamin Smith’s mass shooting on February 19 in Normandale Park during a protest for justice for Amir Locke and Daunte Wright, and especially to our beloved Black Portlanders who continue organizing for Black liberation in the face of Portland’s long standing anti-Blackness and white supremacy. We wish you quiet, peace, and interconnection. Rest in power, June Knightly.

To trans kids and their loved ones in Texas, Alabama, Idaho, and Tennessee whose governments are trying to write transphobic state violence against children into law. We avow that gender affirming care is not only safe and effective, but life saving. We wish you support, refuge, protection, and victory.

To the people of Ukraine, Russia, and all those affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We wish for a swift end to this horrifying conflict that restores power and safety to those most vulnerable: everyday workers, disabled people, LGBTQ+ folks, women, and children.

To all Black and brown folks globally who continually suffer through wars and militarized violence often fomented by US imperialism, then forgotten or written off in the west; to those living through horrors in Palestine, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, the Philippines, and more. We wish you solidarity, sovereignty, safety, and peace.

These days feel especially heavy. My eyes and heart are sore from the constant push and pull of too much and not enough.

Too much suffering, too much death and all its losses, too much militarized violence in the name of capital, too much information to process, too much grief to hold and still keep moving forward. Too much witnessing.

Not enough restoration, not enough agency, not enough ease, not enough clarity, not enough quiet, not enough knowledge. Not enough witnessing.

On days like these, I pull my principles around me like a weighted blanket. Their stability and the good pressure they exert helps me feel gravity.

  • There is belonging, purpose, comfort, and identity in collective spaces,
  • Asking where power lies and who benefits is always a helpful litmus test, and
  • Taking time for quiet is not a character flaw, it is necessary to keep going. The fight will still be there when I am ready to return.

Awash with mourning, I am grateful for every voice who names their dead. I think of my family and the stories of my coworkers and friends, of the powerful tides of oppression that pull bodies across oceans, but that are never strong enough to sever our yearning and love for home. I try to feel for the bones of my back and imagine my ancestors cradling them, all the unnamed people who came before me and lived on through struggles and joys I’ll never know. They are there, standing quietly at my back. They help to hold the grief.

If you’re feeling similarly, I hope you get some comfort this week, however it comes. I have no call to action other than to give yourself the grace to engage and let go as you’re able.

Here are some things that may help ground you on days like these:

With great care,

Alison Cheung, SJF Communications Manager