By Lisette E. Torres
As a newly disabled Puerto Rican scholar-activist, I have been grappling with how to continue my scholarship in the academy. I have begun a process of returning to meditation and slowness after stopping due to graduate school. In this multimedia blog post, I narrate my poem that focuses on my use of Taiji as an embodied meditative practice and form of resistance through self-care. As I read my poem aloud, my friend Sanae Burris from Lincoln Taiji Association demonstrates the Taiji 10-form that is referenced in the audio. I use my intersectional identity as a lens into the culture of the academy. Throughout the poem, I talk about how I use Taiji to confront the daily threats to my physical and psychological well-being – imposter syndrome, stereotypes, patriarchy (in the form of the White, male gaze), cultural taxation, neoliberalism (which focuses on production), and racial microaggressions and racism. It allows me to slow down and focus on my body, mind, and spirit.
As I highlight in my poem, Taiji encourages me to re-center myself and to remind myself of the strength and resilience of my Puerto Rican ancestors and community, especially Puerto Rican women. It lets me focus on the present moment, to come to terms with and embrace being newly disabled. It reminds me that to be able to work with others to affirm social justice, one needs to work on and care for oneself.
*When you watch the Youtube video, please put subtitle/captions on to see the script.
Lisette E. Torres is a trained scientist and disabled scholar-activist whose work focuses on addressing racial and gender inequity in science. As a doctoral candidate in the School of Education at Iowa State University, she is examining how scientist bloggers of color disrupt or maintain master narratives surrounding knowledge production and dissemination as public intellectuals. She also works full-time as an assistant director of a writing center at Nebraska Wesleyan University. She is a co-founder of the National Coalition for Latinxs with Disabilities (CNLD) and an active member of Science for the People. She loves to spend time with her family going to nature areas as well as practicing Taiji as a member of the Lincoln Taiji Association.