Survival Stories – Surviving S-Comm

“What is a witch if not a woman blind to all except surviving?” – Gale P. Jackson

What might someone find if they burst into your home today? Would they hear the stories the walls have been holding for years?

When I was growing up, my father told me about immigrating to the United States from the islands of Trinidad & Tobago at the age of seventeen. He told stories about two families sharing a one-bedroom apartment. Stories about my grandmother separating from her family, hoping to support her children by working tirelessly in domestic work. And some of my favorite stories came from Trinidadian folklore, such as the tales of black magic women called soucouyants. It seems like every culture has its own witch stories.

These are the stories the police would have unearthed if they had raided my father’s home back then. And if the police came to my home today, answering a call for help, or seeing my dark skin and profiling me as a criminal, they would find the altar I’ve built to honor my grandmother, who passed away one year ago. They would see a photograph of me with an old, wise woman, alongside candles, stones, and a small replica of a steel pan, an instrument created to celebrate the survival of Trinidadians.

And what would they think? Would I be the witch, the danger to society? Would they confine me to the custody of immigration officials, just in case.

I don’t want warnings of witch hunts to become part of my family stories, or the stories of my communities.

What I want is what we deserve, due process for all, so I’ll be showing up to San Francisco City Hall on September 5 at noon, to help make sure the board of supervisors votes to restore the rights we all deserve. Can we count on you to be there? Will you help turn the story of S-Comm into our story of survival?