Last year I took a social sabbatical during the month of February. I deactivated my Facebook account and deleted my Twitter account. I didn’t go out with friends or family. Now, I wasn’t a recluse. Not by any means. Instead I spent the month being and doing the things I enjoy. I read. I saw indie flicks. I went to museums. I took a weekend class at my church. I also started working on this blog. While I didn’t launch this blog until June of last year, I began laying the foundation for it in February. I also went to an amazing conference last February. I went to The Justice Conference.
It was a conference unlike any other conference I’d ever attended. Perhaps it was the fact that the people gathered their were passionate without pretense, pro peace without the hipster vibe, knowledgeable without being know it alls, ad ridiculously practical in the plethora of ways to create justice in an increasingly unjust world. The conference opened with Clair Diaz Ortiz, head of innovation from Twitter who talked about her book and what she knew to be true “How to use Twitter For Good.” She gave examples of all types of causes that were started and or funded by the use of Twitter. The rest of the day was littered with speakers who talked about everything from women and how we view, treat, and support them nationally and internationally, as well as youth and children, to stewardship of time, resources, and money.
I’d like to say the conference was profoundly life changing. It wasn’t. Instead it was profoundly life confirming. The conference only fanned t fame that was already lit. It only added more fuel to the fire I already had going when it came to issues of human rights, specifically racism and sexism.
I had always thought I was passionate about these issues because I had experienced them first hand, on several occasions, from people I once called friends, people I have to call family. I thought I had just heard one too many stories of women who were raped and abused from childhood through adulthood that my heart was heavy yet committed to figuring out how to effect change, changing our culture from one that looks away from such pain into one that doesn’t tolerate it and certainly doesn’t victim blame. I thought it was my painful undergraduate experience, the first, only, and longest 3 and a half years I ever thought and knew that being anything other than European American was wrong, bad, or unfortunate. But after attending that conference, I realized it was more than that.
|Photo courtesy of Syco Music Record Label|
It was me being one of hundreds, thousands, dare I say millions of others who had similar experiences. It was me being one of hundreds, thousands, dare I say millions of others who could change so that hundreds, thousands, and millions don’t continue to have the same experiences.
Last February I was invited to speak at a national conference about cultural competence and effective leadership. My proposal on the topic was accepted and I was extended an invitation to talk about something that was my way of advocating for social justice. It was my way of consciousness raising and empowering students on college campuses across the US to do something about the various forms of discrimination that happens on their campuses including racism and sexism.
Last February I also continued to work with staff, students, and faculty at my university for the campus’ first production of The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler- a performance dedicated to raising awareness about sexuality and women, more specifically how women’s sexuality has been traumatized through violence, as well as raising money for a local non profit helping children who were victims of sexual abuse. I spent time educating the campus community about sexual violence in addition to patiently educating a community at large that was far from supportive or maybe ignorant. This was my way of crying out for justice and doing something to support those trying to restore hope to those whom injustice has wreaked havoc.
|Photo courtesy of The Guardian.com|
In a few days I will be headed to The Justice Conference in Los Angeles. The conference will open with words from Bernice King, Dr. King’s daughter. I will then gather with other humanitarian hopefuls, social justice advocates, better life for all creators. I will be reminded yet again that in this life I call my own, I have been called to a cause, a call I will keep answering and a cause I will continue to pursue and uplift.
In a few weeks I will take the stage as a member of the 2014 Philadelphia A Memory, Monologue, Rant, and A Prayer cast, once again telling the stories of women who’s sexuality has been taunted and traumatized, once again raising awareness and money for an organization supporting victims of sexual violence. I will be reminded yet again that in this life I call my own, I have been called to a cause, a call I will keep answering and a cause I will continue to pursue and uplift.
We all have a call to a cause. As I mentioned earlier mine is racism and sexism. I know her in America we like to think we are post-racism and post sexism. But were’re not. So I do what I can with what I have to address these issues. you’re no different. In fact, I think what helps us to LIVE and LIVE well are our causes. They are what drive us to effect change in our lives, families, communities, jobs, etc. Maybe your cause is education, so you volunteer to tutor kids on weekends. Maybe it’s being financially savvy, so you educate the community about savings. maybe your cause is people building their confidence, so yo provide low cost resume editing services and career coaching. Maybe it’s the homeless and so yo volunteer at your local shelter. Maybe you don’t know what it is. Then honey bunny, figure it out.
|Photo courtesy of Kadiatu Kamara|
Your life is not your own. It’s woven into the lives of others, others that cause a collective heartbeat, collective tears of pain when injustice occurs, and collective tears of joy when justice reigns. This week plan on answering the call to your cause.