While at the internship I have learned about a diverse array of subjects and delved deeper into them challenging my personal beliefs and pushing me to expand my understandings. In particular some of the points I have contemplated are nonviolence, cultural organizing, undoing racism, the mission statement of AFSC and issues in the community that I have passion to change.
As a person I find myself inclined to straying away from acts of physical violence but I am aware that I have participated in verbal sparring that can be equally if not more harmful depending on your perspective. I have worked on this and I find that reigning in the lashing out in defense is a hard battle, but in the end it is worth it to keep the peace and find a more positive solution to the situation. For those who are more body oriented I can only imagine that this task is monumental as well. Because of both of these lenses I cannot accept the opinion that nonviolence is anything less than a dedicated courageous lifestyle. It is something that we incorporate into our lives and work on every day, a continuous meditation to be powerful and find the higher path. While walking down this road I have been into the community and learned to organize from within.
By organizing within I mean that I have had to learn what all effective servants know: the community already knows what it needs and wants. Under this reality the challenge is not how you personally can change everything, but more of an exchange between all those involved to shape the power already there to do what you want it to do. Your job is to be so productive that you are not needed in the position that you arrived in. If you are not performing to that standard then re-evaluation is indeed necessary. In my own life this has shown up as having to acknowledge all of my multiple identities and how those energies individually and collectively effect and interact with all the identities of others in the spaces that I enter, work in and exit. One door that I wish I could leave through and close firmly is racism.
Sadly we live in a country, even a world, where a great enemy of human worth exists. Racism is an oppressive force purposely institutionalized to divide people in order to maintain the status quo. On top of its own sickening qualities, it is further exacerbated by the way that all oppression is intersectional thereby multiplying its power every time a new characteristic is introduced into the fray (gender, sex, sexuality, class, etc…). The best way to undo this unfortunate situation is to have real conversations even when things get uncomfortable so as to find our authentic selves and free us from this prison. Liberation would further empower the uplifting spirit of love over hate and heal us of these festering wounds within our minds, bodies and souls. Luckily for me I work in an environment that has a powerful mission, vision and values that it strives towards.
The views of the American Friends Service Committee are something that I am entirely grateful for and privileged to be surrounded by. I have found them to be the practical interpretation of faith, positivity and love working for social change that I resonate with acutely. I am fortunate to have been introduced to them so young and I can even say that because of them and the organization that stands upon them that I am a better person and gained a clearer idea of what I want to do with my life. I understand these tenets as acknowledging the humanity of all and actively engaging to fight against the injustices preventing a total realization of potential and denying people’s legitimacy for dignity, respect, compassion and more. But when one is fortunate more is asked of them and because of that I was also asked to ponder issues that I personally care about in the community.
As a person who uses poetry as a way to creatively express myself, I have found that literacy is very important to me. How we read, write and speak are all connected and all play roles in shaping how we construct reality and relate to the world around us. But for me this is not a matter of prioritizing a specific way of engagement over another and more an opportunity to embrace a fuller palate than the one that we are currently working with. In the majority of the current educational system we only acknowledge the presence of one manifestation of intelligence and in that forceful denial of multiplicity we limit our power. According to Howard Gardner there are many ways to be intelligent. In fact there are, if not more, at least eight manifestations (linguistic, naturalist, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, logical mathematical, musical and visual). And that is not to say that these forms are exclusive as persons may have more than one or a combination of any and all. However, what is popularized as legitimate seems to primarily be logical mathematical with narrow adaption from linguistic to provide for the memorization of information. This limited perspective is problematic because not everyone is the same and therefore not everyone learns the same. For example, in New Orleans there is a large amount of people who are musically brilliant and across the board artistically inclined and magnificent. But because they do not fit into the box they are told adverse messages which are harmful. So we must deconstruct these messages from the core and change the way that we engage people so as to foster growth in all of us.
Check out my visual aide to go with this story
Also check out my video to you called "My Acceptance Poem"