Hi, my name is Anna. I identify as a white queer woman in my early 20s from a middle class family in a suburb outside of Los Angeles.
I am presently in a process of learning to speak my truth about what I feel, who I am, and what I know our Earth needs. This collective is composed of people who are also speaking their truths and striving toward a sustainable planet rich with a humanity living in harmony with the land and the other beings with which we share the globe.
After high school in 2014, I had the privilege and financial capacity to take a gap year trekking through the Andes of Bolivia and Peru, living with welcoming host families, volunteering at a house for children, and participating in a yoga teacher training program. My U.S.-centric lens of our world cracked as I witnessed and began to embody ways of moving across the earth drastically different from my own.
Through listening to the stories of Quechua families in Nación Queros, a sovereign indigenous nation within Peru, and to those of my host family in the agricultural pueblo of Tiquipaya, Boliva, I became increasingly aware of the lack of indigenous presence in the California Public School system curriculum. We learned to worship conquistadors like Hernán Cortez as heroes who founded our mighty country, rather than murderers who systematically and violently wiped out entire sovereign nations of people. We did mission reports glorifying the religious brainwashing, language-stripping, identity-robbing, purpose of a mission. And in depictions of slavery, slaves were always painted as inhuman. We never once learned about resistance from enslaved people. Nor from indigenous peoples in our home state of California on whose land we sat day in and day out at John C. Fremont Elementary School.
As I grew more aware of the untold history of the United States, I also began to unlock my long-dormant creative nature. I picked up a guitar for the first. I learned a few chords, then a few more. I sang secretly, quietly, when no one was around. I felt like I had this massive secret hanging over me: the girl who loves singing and making music even though she’s terrible at it and has no innate musical talent; I would soon be outed—I was sure of it. I was terrified. To sing, to be heard, to admit how much I loved this art called music that I had not actively partaken in until now at age 18.
In feeling my own story broaden through musical exploration, I noticed a parallel between the unfolding of my life and the unfolding of the society in which I had been raised. From a young age, we are indoctrinated with lies–– about the foundation of this country, about our own abilities, talents, and gifts and when this happens generation upon generation, we start to believe them. As I began to unlearn the narrative that I wasn’t allowed to sing or create music or art, I was simultaneously unlearning the mainstream story of United States history.
Upon returning from my year abroad I felt disillusioned with the education system altogether and did not want to attend college. Yet with some urging from my parents to recognize the massive privilege I’d been given to attend a university and have my family financially support me throughout the process, I decided to deny my deferred entrance to American University in Washington, D.C. in favor of an education at the Buddhist-Inspired Naropa University in Boulder, Co. Their platform, “transform yourself, transform the world,” felt like a solid fit for the internal shift I had made during the past year. And indeed within my first month in Boulder I shaved my head, officially came out as queer, stopped shaving my body hair, began cooking my own meals, tried psychedelics, and sang for the second time with another person.
I found a beautiful community of people at Naropa and in many ways felt more free to be myself there than I had anywhere else up until that moment. Yet, I was so deeply enthralled in spirituality and self-transformation that I felt a severe disconnect between who I became in Colorado and who I was before. When I would go “home” to family or friends in California, I grappled with translating my expansive, world-altering experience at Naropa to the people who knew me prior. I also struggled to find circles that could talk not only about spiritual growth but also about politics/social issues which had been an integral part of my life up to that point.
I decided to leave Naropa and study abroad in Ecuador with the School of International Training, returning to South America in hopes of regaining some sense of stability with a plan to eventually transfer credits to another institution. I discovered that, while abroad, I often spent more time with my host family and felt more accepted and taken care of by them than my family at home. In tuning into this evolving sense of home, I applied to schools in California with the intention of rebuilding a relationship with those who raised me and ended up at Pitzer College, 40 minutes east of my hometown.
At Pitzer I have found community that delves deeply into social issues never shying away from that which is uncomfortable to speak about. I have become increasingly aware of my whiteness and the interlocking systems of oppression that keep marginalized populations in disempowered places, further developed my queer identity, and have begun creating poetry, art, and music again. I’ve found people I vibe with, yet I’ve felt an expansive sense of spiritual deprivation and have found it challenging to be in a college setting when I feel that the university system in its current form is not sustainable and often causes excessive strain on the change-makers within it to the point that they have no energy or soul left to create the change they deeply desire to.
So I find myself at a crossroads. Echoing the cries of others in similar predicaments, I feel a disconnect between many of the spiritual circles and social justice circles I have been a part of in that the language used in each can be quite distinct often leading to them being at odds. But my understanding is that the shift cannot occur unless we have soul-centered activism, art, and environmentalism. Meaning that we have to do the inner work to do the outwork.
I am now at a space in my life where I feel a profound connection to this earth and am striving daily to be more in harmony with land, to listen to the urgent calls of the plant teachers surrounding us, honor my ancestors speaking through me, and act upon what I know to be true. For me, this does not involve just a spiritual path or a social activist path or an artistic/musical/writing path, no. It involves listening, and constantly re-attuning my actions to the request each moment begets. This moment calls for the creation of this collective.
If you would like to know me on a more personal level please visit my recently created youtube channel The Creative Crow–– an offshoot of Creative Crow Collective specifically for sharing my truth.
In soul and solidarity, Anna