In times like this, when I can’t sleep or all I can do is sleep… it’s important to cling to hope. Hope that things are going to change, hope that every foot in the right direction is a step forward to change.
There were times in my life when I felt like I couldn’t continue living life. Everyday what pushes me to keep going and what pushes me to keep speaking up for change and preserving is that not in my lifetime — but in my son’s we will have justice and progress. Everything I do is for the future, it doesn’t make my life easier. It’s extremely uncomfortable and there’s so much frustration.
But when I look in my son’s face and have to tell him what’s going on in the country right now… and he’s crying because it hurts to hear about hate that people will hate him because of the color of his skin… I know that I can’t back down. I’ve come to learn that my role is to use my voice. We all have our skills, and this is mine.
I’m in a unique space; I’m a non-Black POC, mother of a Black son, and grew up in a Black city (Gary, IN). My whole world was Black until I moved to a town over when I started high school. I’ve always been someone who cared about justice… but to be honest it didn’t directly effect me until I had my son.
There is an Iroquois philosophy that is often referenced for sustainability practices… the philosophy that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future. I think this can be applied to social justice. Because justice needs to be sustainable.
The history of justice in the United States has been wavering, slow, and at some points backwards. We will never have true justice until systems of oppression are dismantled... until there is criminal justice reform… immigrants are treated as humans, there aren’t anymore missing and murdered Indigenous and Black women… and until Black lives matter.
Real change takes time. These systems of oppression reinforce each other… and have done so for years. In the case of the criminal justice system it evolved from Slavery and Segregation… all three systems are ways to keep a racial caste system in place in the United States. (Please read The New Jim Crow)
Even armed with this knowledge I have hope for the future. I see it every time I see a motivated young person. I see it when people who haven’t asked how they can be an ally ask and do… I feel hope when people speak out against injustice for the first time. I see it when there’s a policy change or another elected official that authentically represents their constituents.
There are so many things that need to change, and that need to be done. For real sustainable change to happen… it takes solidarity, and unity, and a whole lot of passionate people working everyday to push the needle in the right direction. Of course allow yourself rest and mental health days. Social Justice work is heavy and it was not made for the weak, and it also takes the collective effort of people.