Open Letters
Printed biweekly—Harvard GSD

Issue # 75 Tatiana Bilbao to Marianna Gonzalez

Marianna Gonzalez-Cervantes

MIT Department of Architecture
77 Massachusetts Ave
SMArchS Studio 7-404
Cambridge, MA 02139

Dear Marianna,

It’s taken me almost a year to respond to your beautiful letter. It’s taken me almost a second to react. I think we even need to follow overtime this conversation. It needs to be timeless, to happen more than once, and to be repeated as needed. It needs to be present constantly, to not forget the importance of how gender, power imbalance and ill-conduct affect our everyday lives. We need to understand how to change the systematic, cultural and social imbalance in which we live.

I feel immensely grateful for the conversations we had together. At first, I wasn’t sure if what I said was what you were looking for. I tend to not say what people like to hear and sometimes it isn’t well received. Reading your letter, though, I understood the impact of our talks. I am glad that you have the confidence to speak out and, moreover, speak openly — it takes strength and perseverance to tackle what you call ‘uncomfortable topics’ especially when you cannot predict the reaction.

Having read your letter four or five times aready, I keep thinking that the goals of the XX century that pursued equality and democracy failed to understand the necessity of integrating diversity. We have created a world that pressures conformity, depending on the disenfranchisement of others to elevate and empower the status quo. F, for me, the conclusion is that we urgently need to fight Iin our society to: 1. Listen to the other, to those that are different from us, especially those who think in opposite ways.

To truly listen will legitimize the experiences that can vary so much, to presently listen can help to create bridges of communication and foster much needed respect. In doing this, we can design an evolved social system that makes space for  all ways of existing, being, and thinking to all opinions are allowed, have a space and co-exist.

Respect comes from the simple act of recognition of the other. IThe possibility of including diverse experiences from others in our life, will then become the true way of respecting each other, and even supporting each other whether we have the same lived experience or not, is the path to true respect. If this inclusionary attitude spreads, through conversations like the one you and I had, we can truly create a network of allies, of people opening their eyes to injustices and more importantly taking action to stop them and make spaces that are safe for all.

You had opened the path to start this, Marianna. You are right to speak out and your voice will resonate in each conversation that results fromof the first ones we had.

With profound admiration,

Tatiana Bilbao

© 2013—2021