Why I Joined MiC: Priya Judge

Thursday, January 4, 2018 - 5:22pm

I have understood the power of words since a young age. I distinctly recall the first time I published a piece at age 13, and the apprehension with which I described my sentiments as a bi-ethnic second-generation Tibetan in exile.

Since then, I have approached writing with extreme caution. As with many Tibetans in the diaspora, speaking publicly about my identity has significant ramifications. By writing these words, however, I recognize I have great privilege in being able to share my experiences — such a luxury is not an option for many Tibetans in exile. Despite this, I have hesitated on many occasions to approach platforms such as Michigan in Color. I did not have the confidence to express the acute sense of loss, generational trauma and injustice that is so familiar to those who hold identities that are viscerally under attack.

Throughout the past year, engaging in activism on campus has been both encouraging and painful for me. Though I have found great support and inspiration in my peers, my resolve to approach MiC was strengthened by witnessing the active silencing of narratives such as mine within the Asian/Pacific Islander-American communities on campus. In these spaces — ones that claim to be inclusive of all A/PIAs — I have observed indifference, hesitation and outright hostility toward discussing histories and identities that are deemed too “divisive,” “political” and “inconvenient.” The greatest irony in this suppression is that these spaces were never meant to be comfortable.

Histories of oppression are not easy to acknowledge, particularly by those who inflict structural violence. But comfort, as history tells it, preserves the status quo. Comfort reinforces the mechanisms of subjugation. And there is a pressing need to recognize this, particularly in spaces that claim to be proponents of social justice.

In my time on campus, MiC has been an outlet through which I have engaged with narratives that have made me deeply uncomfortable with systemic norms, institutional silencing and my own complicity. As a staff member, I hope to navigate this space with intention and conscience as a proud Tibetan/Indian-American, even as forces beyond me invalidate my Tibetan identity and discount me on the basis of my bi-ethnicity. To some degree, I write these words knowing that I am subjecting myself to the scrutiny of institutions that are antagonized by my very existence and willingness to assert the validity of my experiences.

Yet, everything that I write is from my lived experience. I encourage those — even individuals who do not have the privilege of a public platform — to speak their truths and stand behind their realities. That is why I mobilize myself and my words, and it is because of these hopes that I have joined MiC.