Negativity can turn to healing and strength
By Samantha Knight - Staff Reporter
Negative emotions can be used to heal and strengthen the self, a guest speaker said here last week.
Chhoti Maa said, however, that you're not alone in this, and you can turn to your com- munity to help overcome vari- ous forms of oppression.
Maa was invited to speak last week for Highline's an- nual Martin Luther King Jr. week, which is geared toward examining and celebrating the life, legacy and teachings of the late civil rights leader.
Maa, born and raised in Guanajuato, Mexico, is cur- rently based in Oakland, California. As a performing hip hop artist and activist for "de-colonial living, red medi- cine, migrant empowerment, and queerness," she said she spends her days inspiring the lives of others and fighting for justice.
Maa's talk was entitled Apa- pachandonos: Towards a Last- ing Collectivity. She defined Apapachandonos as, "to love yourself with your soul, to love other people and to love the work you do with your soul." "We have to call back our
power," Maa said. She said she has experi-
enced systems of oppression, generational impacts of colo- nization, and the capability of indigenous philosophy/medi- cine to help reclaim her power.
There are 13 airs to the soul, Chhoti explained, that affect the mind, body and spirit. These 13 airs are susto (similar to PTSD), fright, sad- ness, worry, anger, shame, re- sentment, grief, jealousy, guilt, fear and egotism; they are the key to calling back people's power, she said.
Encouraging participation among the crowd, Maa chal- lenged them to ponder and discuss among each other how systems of oppression have af- fected their intimate relation- ships and communal strength through the generations.
Applause filled the room as individuals shared their hard- ships and experiences within their own communities and cultures.
"Colonization wants to keep us afraid - families and
individuals stripped of their traditions, their self-worth and embedded with fear," said Maa, speaking to how the col- onization of indigenous com- munities and villages has had lasting cultural impacts that have been carried down for generations.
Maa told the audience not to perceive the airs as neg- ative emotions to get angry with, but rather as powerful self-teachers or mirrors, that can help strip away the layers that have been imposed on the mind and body through acts of colonization.
She explained that ac- knowledging and facing these airs will help to overcome them, and unknot internal systems of oppression.
"When we are working with these airs, we are cleaning ourselves, we're cleaning our mind," said Maa, "Use the airs to fuel your inner fire."
Maa complimented the au- dience for their thoughtful chatter throughout the room as participants shared some of the airs they were being chal- lenged with in their lives right now.
"I feel shame for the things I did when I was younger. I didn't have a lot of positive examples; my examples were like rappers and people in the ghetto. Even though the kill- ings and slavery happened so long ago, it's still present here today, and I feel some resent- ment about that," said one member of the audience.
Many similar stories were shared about the shame, guilt and fear that people live with due to their ethnicity, culture or gender.
"Each one of us in the com- munity are responsible for our part to maintain the harmo- ny," Maa said. "As your heal- ing yourself, your affecting the dynamics in your friend groups, in your family, in your community and you're even healing your ancestral line."