View this website in / Ver este sitio web en:

Choosing to Live in the Borderlands

by Naomi Broadway


June 8, 2015

Choosing to Live in the Borderlands

Naomi Broadway


















Similar to our Vocation of Peacemaking series, The Borders I Cross is a series of reflections from BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz members and friends about their peacemaking journeys. This particular series focuses on the many borders crossed for peacemaking, which include physical borders as well as those such as language, culture, race, religion, nationality, generation, class, and sexual orientation. These essays come from people from all walks of life; those who cross borders as students, in their paid professions, in their volunteer time, in their family lives and/or in retirement. We hope you enjoy this new series from the BPFNA!

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together. -Lilla Watson

I feel like I've been crossing borders my whole life. And I don't mean just the arbitrary borders dividing us into states, provinces, and countries. (Though I have certainly done that quite a bit, having been to 46 US states, five Canadian provinces, and 11 other countries.) It is a privilege to cross those borders and be able to travel, and I do not take it lightly. But it is also a privilege to cross other borders--the ones defined by race, ethnicity, class, socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, citizenship status, nationality, language, ability, etc.

We create these barriers out of our differences--using them to define us as separate instead of embracing our differing strengths and qualities. We should not live on only one side of the border. We have to push them and cross them and create the space of la frontera (the borderlands).

I choose to live my life in the borderlands. Elijo vivir en la frontera.

There are so many circumstances that I chose or were chosen for me that have left me in this space.

I was born hard of hearing and have been socialized in the hearing world, yet I will never be fully hearing. And yet, I am not a part of deaf culture.

I am Anglo American, white. From age seven since, I have attended a historically and predominantly African American church.

To my knowledge I have no Hispanic heritage, though I was an active participant in a Ballet Folklórico de Mexico group while I was at St. Edward's University with mostly Hispanic members.

I am fluent in my native language of English. I chose to start learning Spanish in middle school, and I can hold limited conversation in Spanish. (But Spanglish is my real forte.)

I grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Durham, North Carolina. In my year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, I lived and worked in impoverished South Central Los Angeles.

I am an English-speaking, college-educated US citizen. In my year of AmeriCorps, I worked in a family literacy program teaching students from age 2 to 81 in early childhood, ESL, GED and citizenship classes.

And now I'm a social worker. A privileged white, cisgender, heterosexual, US citizen woman, committing my life to changing policies of marginalization and discrimination. But I do not commit to social change in only my professional life--I am committed to using my privilege to walk alongside those on the other side of the border. Geographically, nationally, physically.... I will not let those borders keep me from pursuing social justice.

True social change comes from embracing those on the other side of the border. The best way to learn about those on the other side is to actively seek out opportunities in which you are the minority. The struggles of the "other" become your struggles, because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Let's tear down these walls. Our differences are not borders between us. There is no "other." There is only the one creation and humanity of us all, living in the borderlands.

Naomi Broadway is a BPFNA~Bautistas por la Paz baby, former TYAYA board representative and 18-time Peace Camp attendee. She is currently studying at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill earning a dual Master's degree in social work and public health. 

Peacemaker Fair Trade Project Meet Our Members Donate to BPFNA Buy Resources