An Open Letter to Harriet Tubman

Dear Mrs. Tubman,

I have looked all over for you and could not find you. This saddens me to my core. I have so much to ask you, so many things to tell you. I need your advice and your help.

Today I cried harder than I remember crying before. The kind of cry that gets stuck in your chest, you know the one, the one that comes with such force and intensity that it takes your breathe away. I cried because I am lost. Lost in time, lost in labor, lost in life.

I quit my job yesterday. I have yet to tell my sweet, unassuming husband but I decided to take matters into my own hands. I simply could not take it anymore. Working a job didn’t feel like freedom and I wanted so badly to know what that felt like. This was not my first time quitting but this time, it was much more impactful, the stakes are much higher. Although free, I feel bound at heart. My heart is so very heavy. Today, in 2017, we have something called the internet. Its like a big book of everything you can imagine written by everybody. Just one big giant book. In that book, I found myself looking for the suicide page. I was ready to give up. I was tired of having to scrap and struggle to get by. I felt trapped. I felt like I was drowning and I couldn’t find a reason to try to stay afloat or save myself. In so many words, I felt like a slave. Most of my waking hours are spent doing something for someone else at the expense of myself and my own interests. But when I think about taking the plunge I have to think about what that would really entail. I risk losing my home, my security, food, safety, and my husband (if he doesn’t want to support a non-working wife). There’s a lot on the line here but what about me? What about my essence? I looked around to find validation and all I am met with is fear and admonitions from others. “Go back to school and get a degree to see if that will help you make more money so you can be free.” “Keep working your fulltime job and work on your own projects after hours.” “Thats just the way life is.” “Work harder.”

I am left dazed and confused. Everyone works this way, its the norm. My dad has worked two jobs all of my years on earth. My mom also works full time. People complain yes but they have accepted that this is the norm. So what is wrong with me? Why cant I be like everyone else? Essentially, I am like everyone else, I am on the same boat but I have different thinking. I have tried taking pills to change my ways of thinking to no avail. Why does everyone believe this? Why does it HAVE to be this way? Why is it this way? What can be done? Everybody doesn’t have to live this way because there are people who are free. Why should I expect that I am not entitled to the same thing? These questions keep me depressed and isolated. I figured why be in this world? Why?

In the giant book, I found the page on suicide and read that the best and most efficient way to kill oneself successful was to use a handgun. Tears dried, my right index finger aimed at my right temple, [click goes the sound] of the [cocked gun]. Here’s to freedom, I said, pulling an imaginary trigger. That made me cry again. Another gut wrenching cry that brought me to my knees and I begged God to show me the way. There has to be another way. Somebody has done it before me.

Overcome with a hot rush of blood in my veins, I suddenly felt things I can not fully explain. I felt the blood and DNA of those who had come before me, those who had fought for freedom and justice, like you. Your name came to mind as I looked down and saw that my hand was still holding the gun. I want to ask you: is that how you felt before you started your underground railroad trips? Were you fed up ? Did you see the unseen and know the unknown? Did you think something else was out there? Did you look around at your slave master and wonder how and why was it so that he was there and you were here? Did you also look at the semi-contented black faces around you in confusion at their placidness? Were you rebellious? Did you call bullshit?

For some reason, I think you did. Sorry for the barrage of questions but did you get depressed or deeply troubled the way I did when I decided to call bullshit? Were you miserable? Did you first get the gun and point it at your own head, declaring that you would kill yourself before you continued in that system? Somehow, I see you. Before pulling the trigger, you made one last ditch effort. A surge of what I like to call “fuck it” ran through your veins and you said that before you blew your brains out, you would use that gun another way. You became determined to see freedom on THIS side. So you set out taking your own risks, throwing caution to the wind and reached freedom for yourself and helped others.

I am you, Harriet. I am enslaved in a system that is designed to keep me here. A system that no one likes or enjoys but that everyone has to comply with because this system controls your life. This system is my bread and butter, This system is my shelter. This system is my life. And many, cannot see the forest for the trees. Many look at me as if I have completely lost my everloving mind. But jobs, they say, keep us fed, sheltered, and whole. At the expense of what is my response. What about my essence, I say? What about my creative and God-given abilities. What about my humanity? What am I here for? What is my purpose? Surely, it is not by design that my purpose is to merely fatten the pockets of some unseen bureaucrat or demagogue. My essence, my soul, cannot be reduced to some numerical value of dollars and cents. But this is excatly what “life” has boiled down to. I must choose everyday between being human and surviving because apparrently these are two completely separate entities.

Just like in your days, there have been tepid talks of freedom such as a universal income for everyone but personally, that sounds like a long way off for America. Must my essence wait that long for recognition? Must I tarry or continue to wade in the water or….should I take freedom into my own hands?

From the rebellious one,

Ron

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