I saw their faces – the faces of the 43 missing students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College in Iguala, Mexico – and I felt them in my heart. I could see just a glimpse of their personalities through the photographs. They weren’t just the “43 students” but they were 43 different human beings, stolen from their communities, their families, and their dreams. It seems we are trying our best to honor their lives, to let their hope live through us – but I cannot help feeling a profound sadness.
I had the opportunity to go to the Vigil for the 43 students outside the Mexican Consulate here in Albuquerque. There were so many passionate voices chanting in unison. You could hear the emotions radiating off of every syllable in the chants, demanding justice. The light of each candle created this small, hopeful feeling of warmth – both warmth against the bleak December coldness and warmth against this dark shadow of fear. A circle of us, standing, wishing, praying.
I feel fear when I read pages and pages about the massacres upon massacres that happen in Mexico. It brings tears to my eyes to think about the pain and mourning that their families must experience. The depression that these mass graves must cause, all the ashes that will not be identified. It’s a nightmare – but there was something about the vigil here in Albuquerque. It was the first chance for me to feel inspired by their lives – to feel their light instead of feeling the incredible darkness. I felt this new sense of passion that has been reflected in so many areas of my life. I felt this connection from 1500 miles away.
I felt even more honored to be able to work on our Ayotzinapa show with my Generation Justice family. Gathering all these powerful voices for our Ayotzinapa show was very reassuring to me – a way for us all to find strength and to heal. There was music, voices, heartbeats, chants, history, energy, and devotion most of all.
Between the protests in solidarity and the history of the normalistas – I learned that this is a tragic cycle of repression and violence. These students were battling that cycle. They saw that they needed to create a new cycle: that knowledge was power, that knowledge was creation. Their role was to “uplift” their communities and to share their knowledge. To build and rebuild.
Their message has traveled across the world.
There have been actions across the globe in solidarity with Ayotzinapa. Their story isn’t just a story about injustice, it’s a story that we, as humans, can relate to. We are always learning. We are always students. It’s heartbreaking to think that so many other promising youth in Mexico have simply disappeared – when they’re just trying to do what’s right.
This is the breaking point because we cannot let history repeat itself any longer.
Despite their disappearance, their faces have appeared all over the world. Their disappearance can stir up feelings in a stranger. Their disappearance could spark a change in the way we view our humanity. I thought about how their lives continue to uplift us – to give us passion and to honor the other lives that we have lost. The fight must continue. We cannot let their candles blow out.