It didn’t happen overnight. Despite (or perhaps because of) growing up in the South in the 60s and 70s, I have been offended by overt racism most of my life. But the more insidious, constant racism that permeates our society, not so much. It’s not that I didn’t see it; it’s that I didn’t see how harmful it actually was. Plus, it didn’t affect me. And who am I to change the world?
While I never thought it was fair that my opinion mattered more than my Black, Brown, and female colleagues, I didn’t see it as that big of a deal. I could see that it was annoying, but worth making a fuss about? Certainly not
for me. For one, I was the beneficiary of the subtle racism, and I had more important things to do. And who am I to change the world?
Then a lot of things happened that changed my perspective. For starters, I spent a lot of time with Syrian activists and saw what a difference a little activism can make. No, they didn’t topple the regime, but they did a lot of good and have helped establish the bedrock needed to make Syria better once the regime is gone. They made a difference. It’s inspiring.
I also had major changes and losses in my life that significantl
y altered my perspective about what is important. Not that I ever thought material possessions were key to a successful life, but my focus was more there than on improving the world beyond my very small circle. And besides, who am I to change the world? I should focus on raising my kids and improving MY world. Not THE world.
Now, the injustices in the world are too much for me to simply watch and ask, “Who am I to change the world?” I’m just one voice, but if a group of voices can work together, we can pry dictators out of their fortresses and into courts of justice. We can bring about real change.
So today I write, I document, I photograph, and perhaps film the world I see around me. I will add my voice to those of the others marching in Washington, Minneapolis, Paris, Sydney, Amsterdam, and Idlib. I know I can’t do much on my own. But by joining with others, we can bring about real change. People of color in my country can achieve true equality; oppressed people in other countries can know democracy. Peoples suffering from decades of occupation, war, and injustice can one day know freedom and peace.
Who am I to change the world? I’m an activist.