The events of the last couple of weeks: the coming to focus of the injustice that has made the tragedy of the death of Trayvon Martin nothing short of a travesty, and, the brutal assault on and death of Shaima Alawadi, have shocked much of the country out of a media and sugar induced haze to embrace the reality of racism and hate that is all to real today. With the outpouring of support and solidarity has been a refreshing lack of righteous indignation. Instead Americans of all walks of life, faiths, colors, are displaying a true comprehension of advocacy.
My personal advocacy revolution was precipitated by the single most transformative educational experience I have ever had. This was during my year at Hunter College in New York City in a Community Organizing class with a professor (she would say “facilitator”) who absolutely revolutionized my self-perception and my worldview. I learned, and I can’t even say how this was presented to me, what meant to be an advocate. To stand up for others who have less opportunity to voice their needs, who are more vulnerable, and facilitate them being heard. I discovered at once in advocacy the tool in needed to cope with the knowledge of my own privilege; privilege I hold not only in the world as a citizen of one of the richest and most powerful countries, but in my own society with its institutionalized discrimination, and thus its institutionalized privilege.
These last couple of weeks I have been thinking a lot about that course and especially the amazing woman that led it, and led me to a social understanding that has repeatedly and continuously defined my life. I am deeply grateful for that. I know America will also be grateful for the chance to become more charitable, more thoughtful, more loving, and more forgiving, through learning the art of advocacy.