I was in Chicago to attend the Policy Link Equity Summit 2018. Please pay them a visit to get the full understanding of the work that Policy Link does. It was an experience that I will not soon forget.
As you can tell by the title the Equity Summit was a conference that addressed ways to create policies to make our communities safe and balanced for ALL, this equality goes beyond just black & white. Although that is a great starting point for my Memphis community. This is about Equity for all. It was about making policy to make change in our world. Here are a few takeaways.
Takeaway One- Art Driving Activism:The Young Artist Movement in Chicago #OurFuture
The theme for the day was #TrustYouth During our mobile tour we spent time on the North side of Chicago at the Free Street Theater learning how the young people of Chicago use art as part of their activism. They call it Social Justice Theater. These young people are not afraid to speak up & speak out. They give me hope for our future. We then moved to the South side of Chicago. I had a chance to meet Ayesha Jaco (Lupe Fiasco’s sister). She taught us a few dance steps..FAME style to the music of Curtis Mayfield. If you don’t know the legacy of Curtis Mayfield let me know so we can talk about it. We also talked about “tone”. We listened to the Michael Jackson version of Billie Jean followed by The Civil Wars version. Same lyrics but delivered in different ways changes the whole tone of the song. My takeaway from this exercise was how you say something matters just as much as what you say. A great reminder especially when you are having a difficult conversation especially around diversity & equality. Thank you to our amazing tour guide Donnie Nicole Smith, the Executive Director of Donda’s House (named after Kanye West mother).
Takeaway Two- “Policy comes before power” #OurPower
The plenary sessions were the best. The passion and fire for creating policies that focus on equity was very powerful. A few phrases that stood out to me were “Pissed with purpose” and “Radical hope, radical imagination”. Edna Chavez spoke about the March For Our Lives Movement from the young Latina perspective. When I tell you that this young lady was impressive, believe me she was. It was great to hear Linda Sarsour co-chair of the 2017 Women’s Movement, share her thoughts and perspectives. Charlene Carruthers of BYP100 dropped this gem on us….”People like mutuality as long as they can stay on top”…..read that again and share it with a friend.
Takeaway Three- Still Fighting: Overcoming Structural Racism and Political Opposition in the South #OurNation
This was my second favorite session. Living in a very red state as a person of color or just a person who is in anyway “different” has its challenges. This session shined the light on some things that sent me to Google. Yes, I will find a book to dig deeper but in that moment I needed some clarification. Did you know that 38% of the electoral college votes are in the South? As stated in the session “In order for our nation to move forward the South has to move first”. The two terms that sent me to Google were, the Black Belt, this has nothing to do with karate and Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy. The Southern Strategy is in full effect in 2018. I’m currently listening to the podcast Slow Burn: A Podcast About Watergate. Unfortunately we are definitely repeating history with #45.
Takeaway Four- A Momentum Shift
About 10 years ago I went through the New Memphis Institute Fellows program. That year long program forever changed my life. It was the catalyst for me wanting to work in nonprofit. The Equity Summit is the catalyst for me to continue moving forward more energized than ever before. It opened my mind to new ways to create effective change.
Thank you to Momentum Nonprofit Partners for coordinating the Memphis delegation. I am forever grateful.
Beewisdom-“Freedom is people realizing they are their own leader.” —Diane Nash, Coordinator of the Freedom Riders