The cameras rolled in this Spokane studio with Community Minded TV and Black Lens monthly newspaper organizers, Ben Cabildo and Sandra Williams. The Institute’s youth and staff spent an hour filming a program about our pilgrimage experiences answering questions, reading from some of our writings, and sharing stories. Ben and Sandra urged us to use our different ideas, personalities, cultures, and traditions to benefit our organizing efforts. This includes calling people out, getting other community members involved, being an ally, and getting out of our comfort zones.
Belonging to a different culture and practicing different religions and traditions may lead to prejudices and stereotypes coming from others– which may be difficult for a leader. We were advised to call out the biases, stereotypes, and prejudices as they happen in our work, in order to assure others that we are present in the struggle, and prepared to move forward. Being a leader is about struggling with ourselves in order to be a part of the struggle with and for one another. Ben pointed out the reality that many people of color statistically tend to be less politically involved. This means it will require patience and understanding to be able to have serious conversations about what needs to be done, in order to break patterns and systems of oppression in our neighborhoods. It is a long process toward building an understanding and maintaining it.
Each of us have a voice, and we should use it to represent ourselves and others who are silenced and pushed away. We need to be advocates and allies for other people and causes. If we have the opportunity and power to speak, then we should be willing and able to do so. We need to build relationships and support systems with our allies in order to make progress. We need to be the ones to step up and step forward–even when we are the only one that look like us, whenever our community needs us, and whenever our people need us. We need to participate in activities that are new to us and make us uncomfortable in order to advocate for what is right and for those things that can push us forward.