Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dont Romanticize Change.

"It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains." - Assata Shakur

I repeat these words to myself everyday. Everyday I remind myself that I am worthy. I am a human being even when the world says otherwise. As a black woman and a law student it is really difficult for me to put into words the blatant miscarriage of justice.  It is really difficult to walk into my law school classroom and pretend everything is okay. It is really difficult to sit side by side with my law school colleagues and witness no outrage. To witness zero discontent. It is even more difficult to witness complacency from some of my brothers and sisters. I often feel alone. I often feel hopeless. But I guess that is normal.

Sometimes I feel like a walking contradiction. How can I integrate into a system that is not built to protect me? How can I fight injustices from inside the system when my progress is in the hands of someone who has no respect for my humanity? What good is equipping myself with the resources and tools, if I am watching the law be administered unjustly and judged by people who do not see value in my humanity?

I used to make the excuse that when I just “ made it”. When I just got “ to the top”, that I then would speak out. I would then become outraged. But over the last few years I have been compelled over and over and over again to use my voice and ignite the injustices that are happening in my community everyday. I no longer believe in respectability politics. President Barack Hussein Obama is arguably the most powerful man in the world and cannot openly condemn injustice and speak for disenfranchised groups.

I will raise my voice by any means necessary. I will use my resources by any means necessary. Some may disagree with that and again that is fine. But no amount of respectability politics will prevent your boss or supervisor from one day firing you because they felt like it. No amount of begging, pleading, or acts of surrender will prevent a police officer from killing you in broad daylight with no impunity.  Everyday you are under a microscope and that is a tool of oppression.

I believe that everyone has a part to play. I believe silence is complicity. I believe normalcy is complicity. I have said this before. I fully believe in reclaiming my blackness and womanhood wherever I go. I fully believe in discomfort. I do not believe change can happen when people are comfortable. 

A friend asked me yesterday if I believe in change. Do I think that I alone can foster change in society while I am alive. I said yes. I do not believe what I do is in vein. I do believe in incremental change. I do believe that I can put in place policies, procedures, and precedents that will help lead the change for tomorrow. I am an Optimistic Realist. I recognize the institutionalized systematic problems, but I am not defeated. I believe in myself. I believe in my abilities and I vow to do the best I can for my community. I believe in the resilience of my people. I believe in all those who are already doing a lot of work to foster change. Even if you don’t notice those changes, these incremental changes are helping people.

Change is often romanticized. When change becomes simplistic and romanticized, we fail to recognize the hurdles that are in front of us. Again , I am an optimistic realist. I am always hopeful. I can feel alone and still be hopeful. Emotions are temporary and going through the emotions of feeling human and being human help sustain me. My ability to get upset, my ability to cry, my ability to be happy. They all sustain me. My ability to relate to others who feel the same way. That sustains me. My ability to read about and watch  past and present revolutionaries sustains me. They give me perspective that all the changes I want not might happen in my lifetime but they may be in childrens. And that is okay. That sustains me. My compassion and love for my people sustains me. As Martin Luther King said " 
" True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring." 

I want equity and justice. I want policies that address and remedy structural oppression.

"When some are excluded or lack the knowledge, income, equipment, or training necessary to participate fully in public discourse, they must overcome obstacles to access in order to ensure fairness. In other words, fairness also demands remedies to redress historic injustices that have prevented or diminished access in the first place: for, just as there can be no fairness without equality, there can be none without justice. That is, in order to maximize opportunities for access experienced by certain groups, a good society commits resources in order to level the playing field. "

Equity = justice, fairness,and equality in outcome and result.

People want to move " forward" without recognizing the historical context that creates today. We have to remedy the past in order to " move forward". If you are unwilling to acknowledge the cause and the effects of the issues then stop demanding people give you "easy, fix-it" " one-size" fits all solution to centuries of institutionalized oppression. Change is happening. Change has always happened. And Change will continue to happen.

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