One day my friend Margot Machado and I were talking about our favorite podcasts and said, we should do a podcast. What should it be about? Lazy Book Club! We didn't want to talk about books because in reality if we couldn't read it on a commute to work, it probably wouldn't happen. So here we are, what I am calling Lazy Book Club: Woke in 30.
Me, I work at Episcopal Relief & Development, on the Episcopal Asset Map. While I love my current work, I started my career in Student Affairs, (Bowling Greene State University, '06 my assistantship was at Siena Heights University in Adrian, MI) as the Assistant Director for Student Activities, University of Vermont. And I thought I could become a priest so I got a job at The Earth Institute, Columbia University: long story. But through all the career choices I have come to understand my deepest calling: I'm an educator, a community organizer. I bring folks together so that we might all learn from each other. Collectively we have the answers to our most pressing issues.
In 1998, my life changed when I went off to Bard College '02. Landing in a predominantly White environment completely flipped my reality. No longer the West Indian Flatbush of my youth, but this whole other place that I didn't know I was a part of: America. When you are one of the only, you are forced to become an expert in the field of all the oppressions. I once had a professor give me the poem, The Bridge Cross My Back. I didn't know if it was meant to inspire my crusade or allow me to take a break from always speaking for the margins, but I read it as both/and. My privilege is cultural translation. My gift is educator, community connector. My work is to demonstrate good behaviors which means taking care of myself as well as being present for others. So here we are about to embark on 2017. And post election of "he who must not be paid attention to", I want to have a different conversation.
As a beneficiary of affirmative action, child of an immigrant, woman, Black person (yeah I'm Black and I have light skin privilege), working class background, single parent household, college educated with 2 degrees, middle class now, single, no babies, Christian: Episcopalian at that, etc...I know that the conversation is more complicated than we have allowed ourselves to engage. Black folks been so focused on White people's ish that we haven't addressed our deep gender issues. Queer populations so focused on marriage rights that they forgot that there are large amounts of youth of color living on the street. I say these things not to condemn what we have done, for our victories are many, but we have left folks behind. As I heard White people talk about how they have been left out of the system, their voices denied, deemed unimportant, I thought - there are a lot of Black folks who know what that feels like and how to reinsert themselves in the conversation, I wonder where we can find solidarity?
So let's have that complicated conversation that intersectional conversation across our differences, because of our differences and do it in 30 minutes or less. I hope you will take a leap and join the conversation.