My name is Tae Phoenix and I’m a child of two worlds. My mom is Latina and my dad is Jewish, which I like to say makes me a “challahpeño.”
On my mom’s side, I’m one generation removed from the trailer park; but my dad is the son of an industrialist who came from family money himself, so my life has been different from my mother’s.
The Gospel of Matthew has Jesus on record as saying that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of Heaven.”
Now I’m not much of a literalist when it comes to scripture, and my definition of Heaven is the ever-present, inescapable truth that all humans are connected to one another; so from my personal experience with money, I understand why Jesus said what he did.
For a long time, I was on a trajectory that met all the expectations for a “nice girl from a good family;” but there was a hole in my soul that nothing could fill. The hole wasn’t there because of my bipolar or the job I hated. The hole was there because the way I was living separated me from my fellow human beings by reinforcing their systemic oppression, and by extension my own.
It was only when I became aware of black feminism that my life began to change.
My awakening happened when I stumbled into a corner of Twitter where thousands of black women were talking about how racism impacted their experiences of sexism. The more I listened to them, and the more I read the books they recommended, the more I began to see how patriarchy and white supremacy reinforced each other, as well as other evils like gun violence, domestic violence, child abuse, endless war, poverty, and climate change..
Now, it’s easy to go numb when we list all these evils that disconnect us from one another and keep us from the kingdom of Heaven. The list is so long that it feels easier to prioritize the parts that impact us personally. And that’s why we have to stop thinking of it as a list.
What we’re really dealing with is more like a spiderweb. Each interconnected, sticky thread reinforces the others. We’re all caught in this web together, and it’s going to take all of us to get out of it.
So, if you went to the Women’s March because you were angry that the orange menace in the White House grabs women by our private parts, then stand with our darker sisters and fight to end both white supremacy and rape culture, because one cannot exist without the other.
If you’re shaken every time someone opens fire in a school, work to make it economically unsustainable for any business to profit from violence.
And if you’re heartsick at the idea of ICE plucking infants from their mothers’ breasts, then stand for the human rights of everyone who is being detained by law enforcement, regardless of what they did or where they’re from.
In short, we have to stop trying to unravel the spider web only from the end that is hurting us personally and start unraveling the parts that keep us comfortable as well. If we all do this at the same time, the spider web doesn’t stand a chance.