After attending college and law school, marrying a well-educated and professional man, and being surrounded by other professionals, I could easily isolate myself from reality and live in a fantasy world of perfect equality. I could take my story and use it as a way to brow beat others who make excuses as to why they cannot succeed. I could tell children they do not value the free education that is being provided for them and their ungratefulness is a sin in itself. I could look at the poor and chastise them for not making better financial choices or buying things I assume they do not need. However, I am far enough removed from poverty to help those still tangled in its complex web and close enough to know that it could be me at the drop of a dime or slip of a circumstance.
Many of us have become desensitized to the daily lives of the impoverished and oppressed. We feel that we are above reproach because we have made progress in our personal lives. We have detached from those who are not on our “level” and adopted an attitude of superiority to justify our disdain for others who have not made it out the struggle yet. Some lack the social responsibility to help others as they were helped but instead to openly criticize and side with critics who generalize, exaggerate, and misconstrue data to continue the tradition of white supremacy. You are comfortable and you are passive. Your words are empty barrels of nothingness that are piling up around you and blocking your view of reality. You comfort yourself with material things but as this generation takes on the task of changing the world, your words will soon be silenced by the movement around you. You will benefit from the changes but you will not leave a legacy of power but one of fear and complacency.
It is not easy to wake up everyday and feel the burden of this world on your shoulders. I feel as if I owe this world my life for all of the exposure, experiences, and opportunities that I have received over the past 28 years. I truly believe that if God does not do anything else for me, He has done enough. So I sacrifice my time, energy, and any resources I have to fight for change for myself, my child, and those who have been marginalized and silenced for centuries. Although as a Black woman I experience so much, I know that it is not only us who needs to fight. Women in general have so much to gain. The LGBT community has so much to fight for. Americans who are disabled have so much to fight for. Veterans have so much to fight for. The mentally ill and their families have so much to fight for. Those who have been sucked up into the prison system have so much to fight for. The poor people in major cities and small towns across America have so much to fight for.
Right now our focus is on police brutality because there has been no progress in the legal system, policies, or practices. We will fight for this until there is a change but we as a people, American people, have so much to fight for and none of us can sit back and just let things play themselves out. We can no longer ask our Congressmen to discuss or contemplate our issues, but demand that they either deal with them and create change or get out of office. We have given so much deference to those who sit in public office, in corporate positions, or tell us what we are doing wrong in the media and we have lost our sense of self.
We the people is still at the beginning of the Constitution. We have to stand up as a people. Black people. Minorities. Veterans. Mentally ill. LGBT. Women. Men. Children. Mothers. Fathers. Marginalized. Oppressed. Silenced. We are going to fight until there is change, but if the rest of this country will stand up against the machine, our voices together will force the hands that are simply spinning the wheel. It is time to break the machine, change how things are going, and create a system that benefits more that the wealthy top 3%. I have Black power. You may have a different power, but we must use all of our power to change tomorrow because today we have declared that enough is enough.
It is our duty to fight for 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 has given us words to live by. Words to die by. Words to empower. Words to encourage. We have a choice. Either we fight, win, love and support each other or we leave this burden to the next generation.
We will fight. We will win. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.