How Do I Make Change in My Community?

For as long as I remember, my mom- with the little money she had earned- would buy a slice of pizza and would always split it with my sister and I- with barely eating anything- or even at times- not even feeding herself properly. She was very selfless and gave out food/ things even if she didn’t have enough for herself.

My mother was the primary breadwinner of the household after my father passed away when I was really young. She worked full time earning the minimum wage, and struggled to support our livelihoods- we had a lot of nights where we slept on an empty stomach. But she still managed with everything in her power to help others.

Witnessing this- I consider myself as socialistic, therefore I am an ardent believer of mutual aid and the redistribution of money/ assets to people that are in dire need of financial help. Whenever I get the ability of earning income where I have some leeway to buy a person in need of a meal, I always grant that opportunity to do so. 

I understand the struggles growing up as a person of color in a working class and immigrant family. From struggling on a daily basis to have our basic needs met, living paycheck to paycheck, and witnessing this similar situation in my neighborhood around me (financial insecurity, lack of access to healthcare, lack of mental health resources) propels me to fight for change for folks that are under served. The experiences that myself and people like me, undocumented folks, people of color, immigrants, and many more people around me encounter a lot of barriers and difficulties navigating through daily life because of the way different institutions set up obstacles that impede us from being at our best potential. I am also an Empath, so it is in my nature gear towards understanding what others are going through, and noticing all of the things going around in the world, oppression that certain groups of people are facing merely because of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, and many more makes me want to speak up and stand against injustice. Because of this, I do advocacy centered around racial discrimination, gender based violence through educating myself about institutions and systems of oppression, as well as spreading awareness through teaching others about what I learned. 

I used to be a Nasher in Sadie Nash Leadership Program (a sisterhood circle), where I took courses discussing about about intersectionalities and identity development, including discussions about ethnicity, gender expression and sexuality, we also learned about systems of oppression and planned community action towards the construction workers that would harass on the way to entering the building where we did classes. From there I learned a lot of knowledge and learned to take off organizing and working around various social justice issues; I attended a domestic violence workshop at John Jay for three days to learn about journalism covering domestic violence, and how it can be recognized, and resources available for victims of abuse. In my highschool I also helped organize and implement a full-day event to educate students about social issues, where my group facilitated a workshop about decriminalizing sex work. I also attended an internship called TORCH, partnered with the National Insititute of Reproductive Health and Justice, where my fellow peers and I (centered around black and brown youth) attending training sessions and facilitating workshops in our communities about sexual and reproductive rights and health. When the Parkland shooting occurred, the students in my school and I took to the streets to protest against gun violence, where we made collective banners about marching for our lives and protesting against the NRA not caring about our livelihoods. We chanted in the city as well as outside our school because of how students across the nation felt threatened and their lives were in danger of being victims of gun violence.

Currently I am participating in a sisterhood circle called Sisters in Strength, which is a branch of Girls for Gender Equity- a youth organizing program centered around needs and interests of the girls in the program; community organizing around gender-based violence and confronting individual and institutional discrimination that threaten the safety of girls and women. 

I am also advocating against gun violence in a program called Youth Over Guns where we have discussions about intersectional identities, the complexities of systematic oppression as well as how gun violence affects our communities. We learn about pushing towards legislative advocacy to prevent gun violence, where we also work towards keeping schools and communities safe. 

Audre Lorde, Self Care

Audre Lorde once said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” I believe as people who are marginalized because of their intersectional identities and their rights are trampled over- we are conditioned to constantly work in a system that is harming our wellbeing, thus we need to learn to prioritize self-care in order to continue to fight for our rights and freedoms. We need to prioritize our wellbeing in order to survive and continue to blossom. 

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