my We

I am because WE are. There is an infinite amount of people who constitute my WeSo I want to focus on the people that have been most critical in my journey toward self-awareness and engagement in the social justice work. To the following people, I owe much gratitude… 

-My parents. Both of whom are the source of my compassion, willingness to explore new ideas, and are excellent examples of the humility required to truly grow. Also, thank you for your patience and faith in me while I travel an unfamiliar path. Thank you for your grace during a time when my own shame and guilt caused me to be hurtful. 

-My sister. For your continual support, for challenging me, and calling me out when I’m being pretentious and self-righteous. Thank you for working so hard to become your best self and thus empowering me to do the same. Thank you, also, for your grace when I lashed out because of my own shame. 

-To all of my Teach for America mentors (specifically Katie, Damon, David, Ahmed, Taylor R, and Samuel). Thank you for being present for me when I was exhausted, disillusioned, bitter, self-righteous, and blinded by privilege. If you hadn’t stuck with me, I would have stayed in those places. I’m learning more and more how important (and equally as difficult) it is to allow people to be where they are while still pushing them to move forward. Y’all did that for me, and I’m forever indebted to you. 

-To Charles Black. Thank you for investing in us as TFA corps members. Thank you for sharing your experiences in the Civil Right movement in such an authentic way. Thank you for listening to my passion and my vision for change. Thank you for telling me “Whatever pisses you off is your entrance to the movement.” This wisdom was one of the biggest catalysts for me to change my career path to match my personal vision, strengths, and passion. 

-To my Teach for America recruiter, Shannon. You recommended that I read Dr. Tatum’s book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? when I was accepted to TFA, and that was the catalyst for my passion for Racial Justice work. 

-To my Friends of Color. Thank you for your willingness to share your experiences, thoughts, views, triumphs, and wounds with me. Thank you for your patience with my limited perspective and for seeing beyond that. 

-To my Women’s Studies professor. Thank you for connecting class, gender, and race and showing my ignorant 22 year old self so much about our broken welfare system. Thank you for your patience with our privileged class. Thank you for being an advocate at UTK for those not represented. Thank you for being a real life example of what it means to be an ally. 

-To everyone with whom I’ve had a conversation about “diversity, injustice, equity, etc”. Thank you for being a sounding board for my newly awakened passion and ideals. Thank you for seeing beyond my stubbornness and intensity. Thank you for continuing to listen to me when you’d lost interest 30 minutes earlier. 

-To my Belize family. Thank you for providing the space for me to discover my passion for difference- cultural, national, spiritual, linguistic, and beyond. Thank you for taking a 15 year old to a new place and providing her with the opportunity to develop her own voice. Thank you for appreciating and fostering her curiosity, rather than stifling it. Thank you for accepting her even when her curiosity led her to a different conclusion than your own. 

-To Trinity School. Thank you for welcoming me, my ideas, my passion, and my knowledge. Thank you for being focused on creating empathetic individuals who understand their role in society. Thank you for prioritizing diversity and equity. Thank you for understanding the responsibility we have as an independent school in Atlanta. 

-To Sacred Thread Yoga. Thank you for reminding me that I cannot create a whole and healthy world unless I am whole and healthy first. Thank you for showing me the marriage of a physical and spiritual practice. 

There are many people that I have forgotten, I’m sure. I apologize. In this moment, these are the people for whom I am most grateful. I will do my best to thank others as they come to mind. 

I am because WE are. Thank you for being part of my We

Lauren 

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