Wednesday morning I had the opportunity to attend the “We The People” conference hosted by a coalition of partners. For some time now, I had become discouraged that there would be no progression in this country due to the current administration. While I have always been supportive, I had lost my fire for activism. This conference inspired me to continue fighting and reminded me that there are millions of people that are motivated and constantly working for progressive change.
From a young age, my parents involved me in activism and politics. I knew Black history before I could even do long division. We traveled to Black history museums all over the south, from Texas to Tennessee to Arkansas. I remember coming to DC for the first time to watch the first Black president of the United States be inaugurated. Growing up in the Obama administration, I felt so privileged. When I was younger, I knew there were issues in this country, but I thought everything would only get better because we had a Black president.
“At 18, I had already become ‘burnt out.'”
As I got older I began to educate myself on a variety of issues and began looking into the concepts of intersectionality, allyship, and advocacy. During the 2016 election, I became even more politically active. I went to rallies, canvassed, and registered to vote. I was so excited to actually be a part of a movement to stop Trump and still work for a progressive future. But on November 8th, 2016 I sat in front of my TV at 2:00 AM, while on the phone with my friends, crying that Donald Trump was elected to be president. During the two years of his campaign I sat and watched him blatantly be racist, sexist, xenophobic, and transphobic. Throughout those two years, after every new controversy I told myself “There is no way that he would become president. There is no way that the Americans would fall for this.” But I was utterly heartbroken to be reminded of this country’s disgusting reality. After all of the hard work I was involved in to continue a progressive future I lost hope. While the fight for justice had become a huge part of my identity and the election results made me emotionally tired, unmotivated, and thinking nothing would change. At 18, I had already become “burnt out.”
Wednesday, as I listened to Members of Congress such as Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Pramila Jayapal, Bernie Sanders, Luis Gutierrez, and John Lewis, I was so inspired. Later that day, I had the opportunity to march behind Rep. Luis Gutierrez and Rep. John Lewis to the Border Patrol offices demanding the release of children taken by ICE. It was such a humbling experience to watch them sit on the steps of the Border Patrol office waiting to be arrested if their demands were not met. I thought about how long Rep. John Lewis has been involved in activism and politics. He first started working with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr at just 18 years old; he is now 78. Fighting for change is a long, agonizing process but even when things are not in your favor, it does not mean you stop.
“Fighting for change is a long, agonizing process but even when things are not in your favor, it does not mean you stop.”
Sen. Cory Booker said, “If this country hasn’t broken your heart you don’t love her enough.” And with that statement, I realized how much I really care for this country. Activism is such an important right we have and I am privileged to be involved. People have been fighting against systematic oppression for centuries, I am thankful to live in a time where activism is normalized (at least sometimes). I am appreciative of those who have fought tenaciously before me for the rights and privileges I have now. While there is still so much work to be done, our fights are in no way over. Seeing hundreds of people fired up for change and ready to continue to work on issues of immigration, reproductive justice, gun control, racism, sexism, rights for LGBTQ+ people and so much more gave me passion again.
Constantly fighting against the injustices of this country and of the world can be tiring (even more so with Trump as president) and the justice we seek feels so far away. Political work, activism, and advocacy can be very overwhelming. Especially when you are fighting for matters that pertain your identity, there is an emotional cost. Without the proper balance, it can definitely take toll on your mental health. However,I have learned that even when I am at a low point, I can still remember that there are so many people in my corner. We are all fighting together, and will continue to fight.