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Ready for Battle

This essay was written as part of the 2016 Humanity in Action John Lewis Fellowship at The National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia.

Fully loaded with knowledge, I am ready for battle. As I sharpen my pen, I reiterate the things I have learned in the past few weeks. You see, the following bullets are both my offense and defense, and as such of great importance to me.
 
I have learned how the past tells us about the present and predicts our future. It is this that underlines the importance of Sankofa: reflect today back on the past to build a successful future.
 
I have learned that racism is not only for those that are mentally ill, but that it is an illness entrenched in all levels of our societies.
 
I have learned that I have to write in order to heal both others and myself.
 
I have come to accept that I have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, for challenging the status quo never comes with ease. It is this knowledge that will comfort me whenever the weight of being uncomfortable seems too heavy.
 
I have learned that persistence in resistance eventually pays off but will not be the end of the struggle against global oppression and inequality any time soon.
 
I have learned the difference between violence for the sake of violence and necessary violence as a means of self-defense. For the latter being an act of self- love, and the other an act of hate.
 
I have come to recognize the difference between accommodating the status quo by allowing them to maintain their comfortableness on the one hand and causing good trouble through non-violent resistance on the other.
 
I have learned that sometimes, I too have to re-check my ideals and beliefs in order to stay true to myself, and the bigger cause.
 
I have learned that good leadership comes with personal sacrifices.
 
I have learned that I will have to tell stories until I recognize my sister in every stranger.
 
I have learned the importance of building and creating allies, for just one specific battle is not enough for me and I alone am not enough for all the battles.
 
I have come to realize that waiting for someone else to give me my rights or to fight my battles is never the answer. I, too, have to articulate my demands and claim space in defining and re-distributing human and civil rights.
 
I have learned that in some spaces I have to echo the noise of the unheard voices while also creating space for those who do not have the privileges I have in order to create those spaces by themselves.
 
I have learned that mentorship and teaching is essential for empowerment and that empowerment is essential for resistance.
 
So now what?
 
It is time to love,
It is time to confront,
It is time to teach,
It is time to inform,
Every person I encounter and myself.
 
For the time has come to write.
For the time has come to expose.
For the time has come to push.
For the time has come to demand.
For the time has come to organize, strategize, mobilize and execute.
 
Fully loaded with knowledge, I am ready for battle.
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Atlanta, GA

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