As a new contributor to this blog, I thought long and hard about how I would introduce myself to you. I thought about doing something light or witty. Then I thought maybe I should do something trendy, but the truth is I wouldn’t know a trend even if it was dropped on my doorstep in an amazon prime box. All I can do is introduce you to the me I am today, but in order to do that, I must first take you back twenty and a bit years.
When I was a tween I loved to read all about current events, to discuss them with my very wise mother, and dream about all the ways I could help the world. I got older, I got an education, and I got an introduction to real life.
I thought by now I would have all the answers and that I would use those answers to do my part to make the world a better place. Here’s the reality: All that education means there are student loans that need paid. Working means sometimes sacrificing passion for a paycheck. It often means walking the fine line between changing workplace attitudes and trying to maintain my dignity and self-worth daily in the face of disrespect resulting from my race and gender. It means constant compromise.
As I got older, it also got harder to watch the news. I began to feel part of a collective failure; the brunt of whose ramifications were being heaped upon the next generation. For example, in the last month or so, two boys, just on the cusp of their teenage years, were gunned down by police because they couldn’t look past the color of their skin and see the fear in their eyes. Another boy, barely older than the boys that were gunned down by police, shot and killed a six-year-old boy. And those are our boys, the “privileged” gender. Girls, similar in age, are being killed in another way. They are devalued in the classroom and taught hyper-sexualizing themselves is the best way to get ahead. They are sold to or victimized by men who feel their basal pleasure is worth the soul of a child. Every day I saw one more thing that makes me feel powerless and ashamed. Then I had an epiphany, call it a mid thirtyish awakening.
“I realized these issues were affecting me so deeply because for the first time in my life I was truly aware.”
I was always cognizant of social issues, but this feeling were somehow different. This was the visceral understanding I have the power to change little things every day. That I am allowed to have the self-respect to say “black lives do matter, “that joke isn’t funny”, and “No, I don’t want to talk about my hair”. I have a responsibility to think twice about my purchases and whether they support destructive social and environmental practices. I think that’s ultimately why I wanted to do this blog, because I feel as though this generation of 30 somethings is struggling like me.
We came of age on the back of the civil rights and feminist movements. We were to be the first generation of beneficiaries of the work of our parents and our sole job was to reap the reward; to be able to be fulfilled, paid equally, and respected regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. Instead, we too must dedicate ourselves to the continuation of the goals of our parents and grandparents which, if you think about it, is kind of amazing. We have the privilege of taking the social gifts bestowed upon us and expound upon them. We can make the real and lasting change that was promised to us. We too, can be a generation of historic social change. And as dire as things seem to be at the moment, in my opinion, it means that there is space for everyone to play a part in shaping our future.