I thought it would be cool to reflect on the past four and a half years of my life.

Courtesy of Joel Reinstein

Then I laughed.

I laughed because that would take much more out of me than I could even imagine. I found myself at this university. I found my passion at this university. I found my future at this university. I loved at this university. I lived at this university. I learned at this university. And most importantly, I laughed. Some laughs so entertaining they would cause rib pains. Other laughs so conflicting they stemmed from pain.

They say laughter is the best medicine. I’m the girl laughing three days in a row at the same old joke. Laughter is my medicine. It cures all. It cures my bad days. It cures my discomfort. A day without laughter is a day without coffee and I need my coffee. I need my laughter.

I have been challenged. My laughter has been challenged. For how exactly does one laugh in moments of discomfort? Though my moments of great comfort are plenty, my moments of discomfort will forever be more prominent and vivid in my mind. My identity has been questioned, my values have been challenged, and my actual being has been discriminated against: all within the same space that I found myself, that I found my passion, that I found my future, that I loved, that I lived, that I learned and that I laughed in.

I still laugh. I laugh because being able to find humor in discomfort is my equivalence to a diamond in the rough.
My name is Zanib and I am an ally of the #UMDivest movement. I am a senior at this university, a senior. Sometimes I am unsure whether to cringe or smile over this. A senior, I cringe as I wish I had been involved earlier.

This is the first time I was involved in a movement that SAFE has pushed forward. Why now? I witnessed my fellow students be silenced. I watched as a crowd filled with my best friends, my peers and my allies were silenced. This was a huge reality check for my previous conceptions and perceptions of the dynamics of my own campus.

I am no longer able to laugh. I cannot find humor in such discomfort.

Smiles turned to uncomfortable looks. Open arms were closed tight. Polite gestures became discriminating screams. My favorite t-shirt that reads “I feel home” is now one I can barely look at, let alone wear.

Home is a safe space. Home is a comfortable space. I have never felt so uncomfortable in my 21 years of living. I no longer “feel home.” I no longer feel safe. The #UmDivestSitin was such an empowering peaceful movement. And I say that with confidence and am allowed to make this statement because I got to see it for myself, every day. It was safe. It was comforting. It felt like home. The only “violent” part of any of this was the horrible words from outside forces that cut like knives through the hearts of every single member of this movement.

And so I wish I was involved earlier. And so I wish I was more informed earlier. But I am involved now and will forever stand in support of these courageous individuals.

A senior, I smile as I look to those who will continue to inspire. The students and allies involved in SAFE are truly the most inspiring group of people I have had the pleasure of being a part of. There is nothing that can break the bonds formed in the Edward Said Lounge. There is nothing that can break a movement with members as strong as this one. So I smile. I smile that I had the opportunity to be a part of this as my last semester comes to a close. I smile at my fellow peers who will continue to work and stand for what they believe in. I smile as everyone who came together for this cause did it with pure love. I continue to smile at strangers the same way I’ve done all my life; only they no longer smile back.
I am no longer able to laugh. I cannot find humor in such discomfort.

We lost our safe space when that sit-in ended. Confusion and uneasiness swept us all, as we no longer knew where to turn. We could no longer leave class and make our way directly to the Edward Said Lounge; where we laughed, smiled and cringed: together.

But I will continue to smile because our safe space has been recreated in each of our hearts; a connection of love that can never be devalued.

Michigan in Color is the Daily’s opinion section designated as a space for and by students of color at the University of Michigan. To contribute your voice or find out more about MiC, e-mail michiganincolor@umich.edu.

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