Do I know why I am here?

Do I know why I am here?

Do I know why I am here?

This is something I have been looking for an answer to for quite some time.

It doesn’t matter what room I’m in, what space I occupy, I do so with the attitude that I am where I’m supposed to be. Every chair in the room has my name on it. I sometimes don’t know how I got there, but I know this is my space…and this chair? This is MY chair. Too often people will want to interview me for something or ask me to write an article and one of their main questions is, “how did you know you wanted to be an advocate?” Or, “how did you know you wanted to do this work?”

Short answer: I didn’t.

I didn’t seek purpose, purpose found me. Being the parent of Autistic children thrust me into advocacy without hesitation. The nature of being a parent to disabled children means you are constantly fighting for something. And to be Black in America means advocacy is steeped within your bones, deep in your marrow. This skin is resistance, I was born with fight on my breath. 

Advocacy isn’t new to me.

Guiding others through it, is. It isn’t incumbent on me to educate others in this work or what inspires it. I do not have to teach what anti-racism is or what feminism should look like, this is something that I choose to do. On my own terms, in my own way. “Social Justice Advocate” wasn’t deliberate on my part. Not in the beginning. I am a writer who tells stories to reach others on a similar path, I didn’t know where my tales would lead me. I experienced a world that varied from those who I assumed walked alongside me. My experiences weren’t the norm, so they went unnoticed and unaddressed. I expressed my displeasure and grievances through my stories. My poems brought my pain to the forefront of the minds of those who dare read them. 

At this point I still did not connect my work with that of advocacy. I was just a mom whose children were neglected within the Autism community because we are Black and I wanted everyone to know about it. So I wrote. And I didn’t stop writing. The more I shared, the more confident I grew. The more angry I became. This trauma I was carrying around my neck like jewels, society didn’t care about. I wanted my words to scream at the reader. I wanted them to go down hard, get stuck in their throats. I wanted them to choke on my pain because I was suffocating within white supremacy. “They won’t know my pain if they don’t feel it,” I thought.  

I no longer cared if my words were arsenic, no longer would I hide my tongue behind lips sealed with the stain of white privilege. I delicately danced around the feelings of those who were privileged enough to dismiss my pain because they were so far removed from it. So why bother being nice about it? Our trauma didn’t even register to them, so why am I bleaching my thoughts? 

Once I gave myself permission to live whole in this skin unapologetically, is when I began to notice the truth in my shares. I saw that there was this yearning for action that didn’t look like anything I had seen before. People were looking for the birth of a fight that has been hundreds of years in the making. Could this be the result of George Floyd, yet another Black unarmed man murdered at the hands of police? Could this be Ahmaud Arbery? Breonna Taylor? Could there have been one death too many that sent so many in search of Black voices like mine who have been shouting our trauma through hoarse voices? Perhaps. 

I am living the life my grandparents lived. My grandmother’s stories no longer feel like stories, they are my truth. Our truth. And now, I’m the storyteller. Documenting my life and story, putting it out there for the world to pick apart. Worried about how much of an impact can I have with this pen. Worried that this won’t be enough. Worried about the fact that I’m worried about my impact and whether it’s enough. 

When did this happen? When did I start to care? At what point did I decide that I wanted my words to inspire others to act? To heal? To guide?

There’s no turning point, no defining moment. This is a journey where all parts of this walk mattered. Every step meant something. Each footprint was a stamp that marked a lesson. All roads led me here. I know where I was and I know where I stand. That’s all I know. My calling came to me through storytelling and I don’t know where my words are going to take me but I do know that this work will continue to be inspired by the stories of my life.

Do I know why I am here? Yes. To use my words to do my part to usher in a newer, more effective brand of advocate, one who is intersectional and an accomplice, one who is inclusive and open. One who is worthy of representing my boys in the future. 

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