It’s time to change the record; it’s scratched and the song has played too long.
The other day, I listened to a briefing of a few politicians and clergy discussing the coronavirus and its impact on the community as well as the churches. There was a lot of appreciation for all who were taking the time out of their busy schedules to meet and for the time that was taken to put together the event. I too appreciated the time taken. — There was concern that churches were not deemed essential and concern that, once again, people of color were being disproportionately impacted by the virus. Once again, it was brought up how the right people, or the people who can lend a voice to the impact on the ground, were not brought into the room to be included in the conversations and decision making. I had heard these words so many times before.
Listen. I have a lot yet to learn in this life, and I don’t know it all. It is my goal to continue to learn until the day I die, and on that day I will learn how to die because I have never done it before. However, what I do know is that we continue to have the same conversations over and over again, in different ways, especially as it relates to the minority community. To me, the issue is not only about race, but it is also about economic injustices that many races experience in this city. People of all races are struggling in this city. They are African-American, Hispanic, Asian and, believe it or not, some white folk too.
However, as it relates to the disparity among the minority community, we continue to study the disparity as though we have done so much to address the inequities that exist. When instead, at this moment, our government is utilizing this pandemic as a means to quietly roll back affirmative action. It is almost a joke. What are you studying when you know things have not been put in place to create change and you also know that even when things are put in place they include barriers.
We have spent more money studying the disparity than actually doing the things necessary to create change. The only people really benefiting from the disparity studies are the firms doing the studies. At this point, we have found that there is a disparity within the disparity, within the disparity of the disparity. We get it. While things have improved on the surface, we still have a lot to do, especially in New York. Here, you have NYCHA residents without heat and hot water during a pandemic, food insecurity and a 20% increase in homelessness in a city that is going through a housing boom.
The thing we all know is that in this city when we want something to happen it happens. Yet as we continue to talk about fighting for people who need us and being there for our communities, the numbers are not reflecting the changes that should be occurring. So, if we are seeing a rise in economic injustice, a rise in food insecurity and a rise in homelessness we have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves why. These things do not happen through osmosis. They are a product of decisions that are made. So, we have to look at our decision makers, but we also have to look at ourselves and see what part we played in this current circumstance through our actions or inaction.
I am not here to be judge or jury. However, I am here to say that we deserve better, and I don’t know about you; but I am tired. We have been playing the same song over and over again, and I am ready to change the record. So, I am not running for office because I believe I am charismatic. I am not running for office because I believe I have the oratory skills that rival Barack Obama’s. I am not running for office because I believe I have all of the answers. So, why am I running?
I am running because I think the exam is rigged, and although we all studied hard on test day, someone keeps changing the questions. I am running because I cannot believe that, at this point, we are still having conversations about fighting for people to have food to eat. I am running because I cannot believe that we are still talking about increases in homelessness. And I am running because I believe the generations coming behind us deserve better.
I want people in NYCHA to have heat and hot water. I don’t think that is a fightworthy ask. That’s a basic human right. I want my son and your son to be able to own a home. I want my nieces and nephews and your sons and daughters to not have to worry about whether they are going to be evicted or whether they have enough food to eat. And I want us all to be able to really enjoy our brief time here. Is that too much to ask? Do we really want to be part of a society of people who have created a world where people are struggling all of their lives? Do we want to be fighting the same fights all of our lives? If we do, that’s sad and where is any evolution in that?
The reality is that I believe we can have a different world and make a difference. I believe that if we step out on faith to help each other and get away from the fear that if we help someone else, we are going to struggle, that things can be better for all of us. Maybe I am a dreamer but maybe I am right. Maybe if we just, for once, stopped fighting among ourselves, Democrat vs. Republican, white vs. black, rich vs. poor, and worked together amazing things would happen.
This is not a power play for me. I have no secret agenda to be rich and powerful and rule the world. Hell, I am a girl from the projects. I have no political background. But I have a background in life. And as I look out at the world cognizant of my own mortality and that half of my life is over, I just want to leave the world and this city better than I found it. Yet as much as we have accomplished, we still have a long way to go.
So, I am determined to try to fix what I can: to be a voice for the voiceless, those who feel hopeless and like no one cares; those who feel like they are an afterthought and as though they don’t matter; and a voice even for those who are doing well. I want to shift our priorities and find a way to include everyone in our decision making. I am here to say that everyone matters. I am here to say it’s time to change the record. Let’s work together to CREATE the change we want to see. It won’t happen without you!