Tyné Angela Freeman ’17 reflects on the paradox of the moment, that we need each other now more than ever
I often marvel at the fortitude of my predecessors—women and men whose names I’ll never know. They faced trials and indignities, but something in them urged them onward. They gave the best of themselves, even when that simply meant surviving. I believe the present moment also requires the best of us. We must look beyond our circumstance, energized by the possibility of a more just and loving community. In this moment, we can imagine the country and world we want to see in 100 years, though we likely won’t be here to see it. Though intangible, hope is a substance that sustains us. It gives us permission to dream, and to dream beyond ourselves.
2020 has, in many ways, been characterized by fear. Significantly, the fear of contracting the coronavirus has loomed large. We feared the invisible: a virus that colonizes the body in ways most of us cannot comprehend. But even more practically and pressingly, we began to fear each other. We saw unfounded assumptions that provoked unacceptable behaviors toward Asians and Asian Americans. The deep fissures in our social fabric came to bear. Ahmaud was robbed of his 26th birthday, Breonna of her 27th. When we witnessed the life draining from George Floyd in real time, the levee broke. Out spilled centuries of bitterness and dreams deferred. The country’s deep-rooted, long-spanning legacy of inequality rose to the surface. Even when our state has appeared relatively stable—asymptomatic, if you will—still beneath the surface churned an ugly and uncomfortable truth. We now see protests and riots, but these events do not occur in isolation. Every action has a consequence: generational trauma results in repressed rage that will in time manifest. As we find our way forward, we must work side-by-side and walk hand-in-hand. And critically, we must believe it’s possible. This moment asks us to reach inward as we fight, recognizing the necessity of empathy for all and from all.
As COVID-19 took the world by storm, generous doctors, nurses, and frontline workers fought to keep us healthy. Millions of others donated money, ensuring that children who were usually provided lunch at school would still be fed. We wore masks to minimize the spread and protect those around us, even if we weren’t personally at a high risk of contracting the virus. And we joined in sending our thoughts, care, and prayers to those who fell ill. Similarly, the all-too-insidious pandemic of racial injustice requires that we act in courage and compassion. A similar generosity of spirit is required as we ward off the symptoms of generational, systemic oppression on the basis of race.
There is a temptation to give in to rage, or simply dissolve into frustration. But I must caution against reckless rage. It’s okay to be angry or exhausted. It’s okay to step away and protect your peace of mind. We must learn to trust the love that resides within us, even when we feel depleted. I lean into my faith to find strength and renewal. We are broken people, susceptible to sin and vulnerable to attack. But we are also a resilient and adaptable body. In this iteration of the human struggle, now center stage in our contemporary consciousness, I am awed by the resilience of Black people, and people in general. It is heartening to see the willingness to offer allyship and to engage in challenging dialogue. This excavation has uncovered some uncomfortable realities. As we address them together, we must all mine our souls for more compassion and sensitivity.
Dartmouth gave me many gifts, the greatest of which has been a community of treasured friends and mentors. The connections I forged have shaped me, and they energize me to continue onward. These types of connections prompt me to return to gratitude; they help me keep believing that the ills of this world are not ultimate. I try to present this insistent hopefulness in my music and in all aspects of my life. Right now, it’s easy to allow arbitrary barriers to keep us estranged. The paradox of our moment is that we need each other more than ever. Now is the time to draw near and listen closely. These are my present thoughts, and I hope they are at least some small encouragement. Dream beyond yourself, recognize your own resilience, and persist in love.
To learn more about Tyné and access her music, visit tyneangela.com.