(Below is a transcription of this month's special video edition of Toni's, "So, I've Been Thinking..." segment in CEG's monthly newsletter)
So, I've been thinking...
I've been thinking that systemic change is not going to be easy.
I was talking to a friend of mine, the other day - and my mentor - and he asked if I could've imagined this, six months ago. And, I frankly said, "No."
I mean, who could've imagined a global pandemic, more than 40 million Americans unemployed, and the death - the murder - of a black man captured by a teenage girl on the street corner to be the start of a revolution? And I call it a revolution - and I say it's a revolution - because, it's revolutionary thought.
You know, there's a lot of social media out there about what's going on with the protests - what people are asking for - but, there was one young woman who both summed up what I was thinking, as well as articulated what I believe in my heart. And what she said was, at the end of her talk - at the end of her education to us - what she said is, "What people ought to be grateful for is that black people want equity; not revenge."
And it stopped me in my tracks, when she said it, because that's what I think we want:
We want equity;
We want to be treated equal to anyone else;
We want opportunity;
We want to not be shot, because of the color of our skin;
We want to have access to healthcare, and not die at a great proportion to other populations from a global pandemic;
We want access to education that is right and equal;
We want access to anything;
We want the right to vote, and not in gerrymandered districts.
And I think what it also got me thinking about is the fact that I've work in southeast D.C., I've work in Appalachia, I've worked across the world, in some cases, but I want us to always come back to this:
Systemic change is not just the elimination of police brutality and black people getting shot in the streets. That seems to basic...so basic of a right:
To not be shot;
To not worry that the police are going to follow me across the Oakland Bridge;
To not worry that, if I'm in D.C. in my car, that I'm going to get pulled over, and then, when they realize that I'm female, not male, I get let go.
So, what I've been thinking about is, are we ready for systemic change, and are we ready for systemic change for the corporations that we deal with, the institutions that we deal with - those can be HIV corporations, LGBT, regular commercial organizations and institutions - but, are we ready to continue this fight all the way?
I believe we are.
I believe that some people may believe that this is just a fight to end police brutality, but that's not what the streets are saying.
So, I've been thinking that it's also important that we do more to be supportive and kind to one another.
And the "one another" is to black people:
To hold fragile the blackness that we share;
To see it as a fragile thing;
To understand that privilege is not just a thing of white people; that privilege - race, class, and privilege - privilege is something that some of us black people have, too, and what do we do with it? How do we use it? Do we use it to lift up our brothers and sisters? And that all - not a select group; not just "those."
That we've made a commitment to help all black people.
That we've made a commitment - in my case - to help all black people, all poor people. The suffering.
That I can no longer be in a position where I put people down. Throw shade, if you will.
Those things that we often do to one another can be more harmful.
So, I've really been thinking it's also an important time for me to stand up and say, "No!" Because, I think all of us have probably had experiences, had traumas, experienced racism, or classism, and had little place to turn.
But, I think now is the time where we, and I, have to stand up and say, "No! It's not okay. It's not okay to treat me, mine, us, we, that way," whoever that us and we may be.
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