I grew up in a community by the ocean. In the summer months, my siblings and I would frolic by the shore for hours. We splashed in the water and called it swimming. We sunned ourselves in the warm sand, and stared right up into the bright blue skies searching for animal shapes in the passing clouds. I have many fond memories of growing up in that little town by the water. But it wasn’t always warm and wonderful there. My family was one of four families of color in town. As a result, the idea of difference was very real to me at a young age. We were the ones who were different.
My parents validated the existence of a collective experience of othering through an ongoing narrative of struggle, resilience, and resistance. My mother talked about “fighting the system” and “not letting the man hold you down.” Of course, I later learned to use words like oppression, systemic racism, privilege, patriarchy, and all of the “isms” to describe the shared experiences of people from marginalized groups.
My mother showed me what it means to stand up for what is right and just. She taught me, through her words and actions to speak truth to power, to stand up for those who can’t, and to never be satisfied with the status quo. She is what drew me to my work. It is her fire that reminds me that I cannot rest if others cannot rest. This fire pushes me every day to work for a more compassionate world that is grounded in social justice. Don’t be fooled by my kindness, my mother’s fire lives inside of me.
Social Justice Center