Dear Child of the Future

Dear Child of the Future

March 02, 2021



Racism is a species issue, a species question. —Resmaa Menakem
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you. —Joy Harjo

Dear child of the future,

I write to you in apocalyptic times: times of rupture and revelation, times of truth-telling and uncovering. I write to you so I can live both now and where you are, in the glimmer and warmth of your delight, trusting in the destiny of your freedom. This letter to you is a message of prophetic vision, a gesture of liberation, an act of movement. It is a homeward, heartward hearkening, part of a discipline of hope. You and I are connected, and all is in motion.  

What will you know of these bygone days? Life was complicated, grief-ridden, and your ancestors were learning much, contained by circumstance, thrumming with kinetic potential. Some of us were descended from those who had stolen from others, most of us lived on land that never belonged to us, many of us were displaced and diasporic, and we were just beginning to contend with the festering wounds of whiteness. The groaning earth was admonishing us, calling us from embedded habits of domination into right relationship, from fear into love. 

Maybe you will be told of all the archaic systems of supremacy that we swam in day to day, were complicit with, resisted, and eventually overthrew. Perhaps outgrew is a closer word; it was not so much a revolution like the ones in textbooks from eras past, written by white men who were obsessed with linear time and binary outcomes (before those too were collectively deemed obsolete). It was more like birth—painful, ordained in its ordinariness, inevitable. It was more like a gradual unfurling, a shedding, a return to rootedness. A coming home. Saint Tracy Chapman taught us the revolution sounds like a whisper, and as revolutionary co-creators do, we were sheltering, seeding, fermenting, breathing a new world into being. 

Maybe you’ve heard Saint Joni Mitchell’s old folk tune “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” which draws from an even older poem by Yeats. We asked, what makes a white man’s apocalyptic vision so haunted? What if the falcon is free to fly, what can be birthed in the dying? 

I write to you in a time of apocalypse, and apocalypses reveal. Ocean gyres cohered our trash in stark evidence of disposability, and in doing so exposed the hubris of the Eurocene. Sanctioned insurrections followed uprisings and unveiled the ugliness of white supremacy protecting itself. Back in these past eras, some of us talked about white supremacy like an iceberg, with the bulk of its mass below the surface, but this articulation was limited: there was nothing natural or inherent about whiteness, or capitalism and colonialism, machines finely-honed after centuries of cruel operation. The violent inertia of such power-over machinery was overpowering, insidious, and ultimately corrosive. 

But we were resurrecting languages of resistance, troubling the monoglossia, returning to our embodied wisdom. Drinking from deep wells. Blessed and blessing those who, as in one Aramaic translation of the Beatitudes, were trying to right the balance, tuned to the Source and the ruling principle of the cosmos. We are creatures of adaptation and transformation, microbiomes, ecosystems. We are, after all, earthlings. 

We are of earth, and yet, were so easily distracted by the unearthly, so often traded pageantry for spectacle. Perhaps you will hear of the patriarchal skygods many worshipped before we recognized the Divine lives among us. Perhaps you will be told how hard it was for us to divest from screens, ceaseless blue light and blinking notifications, the digital dystopia invading every pore of our lives for profit. How we began to learn what was lost when we forgot the names of the stars and the stories to accompany them, how we had to re-learn how to move and feel and dance and take care of each other to stay alive. Time stretched out during the Great Pandemic of 2020, before the collapse of capitalism and the years of long repair, before the settler-state fell and the land was back with her sovereign Indigenous keepers, before the emptied prisons spilled over with wildflowers and the rivers ran clear. We portalled through what was to what could be. We queered the timeline. 

It is already happening, now, as I write to you. 

One day, I was walking in the sunlit streets near home, watching the snow on the mountains, when I saw a white-haired neighbour who was also out walking. They had stopped on the sidewalk, enraptured by a tree. The tree was full of birds, all singing, a gorgeous thrilling cacophony in the middle of winter, and the sound wrapped my neighbour in throes of joyous impossibility and they laughed, cracking the sky open. From across the street, I was caught in the intimacy of witness. Suddenly, we were Beyond. Beyond was Here, Beyond was Us. 

By the time of your arrival, will you be attuned to sunlight and moonglow, the proto-ultima-internet of mycelium and trees, your non-human neighbours, the lived liturgy of your body in constellation? Before you are born, we will have finally abolished the unholy notion of the Individual. We live in sacred ceremony: we eat and dream and become together.

I write to you as the Lunar New Year approaches, an ancestral celebration of the changing seasons, of kinship and feasting. I like to think of you now, in anticipation—you are coming, and you are not yet born, and like me, you are always on the way. Wherever you are, whenever you are, may you be illuminated in wonder and banquet at the table of joy. May the trees and mountains and hills clap their hands and burst into song alongside you, and may all our relations (which is, of course, all of creation) be blessed, healed, abundant. 

Find me whenever and wherever you need me. I am, as always, yours, in love.

Céline Chuang (she/her) writes, creates, agitates, forages, and educates on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territories (Vancouver, Canada). She is a diasporic settler, designer, facilitator, and co-host of Resetting The Table podcast.
Photo by Aaron Santelices on Unsplash

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