As part of our Advocacy Week Celebration, we are blogging daily, focusing on a different theme of Advocacy each day. Today, advocates from the organizations Safeline and Pride Center spoke to us about the topic of social change.
“I am not free while any person is unfree, even when their shackles are very different from my own.”
-Audre Lord, Updated by Gustavo Mercado Muñiz
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”
Change is inevitable as it is constant. Social change happens on all levels of the work we do. Perhaps you are working with the Network to pass legislation in support of survivors, or providing trainings to teens in your community on healthy boundaries and consent, or coming together as an organization to embrace change. Or maybe it is even more personal for you, as it is for Gustavo who said, “I see this (social change) mainly in my on the ground work (at the Pride Center) with trans folx. If I can make a difference for one person and help them believe that it is OK to be themselves, I have already gone above and beyond in my role. My mission is to empower those who are most marginalized and help them with everything from finding stable housing to being in community together. I am an affirming voice that lets people know that the harm they experience is not a core part of their identity. When you hear hate so frequently for so long, it can feel like a part of who you are but it isn’t. I strive to hold space where people can show up as their full selves and I will come to them with love and compassion.”
As advocates at Safeline, Sue and Lynn find hope for a better future in talking with youth. At a recent workshop with summer camp staffers, they spoke with youth about the need to speak up in the face of injustices and found their audience to be receptive and encouraged by their message. They have also begun to see some positive changes in their community over the last few years. They report, “More people are speaking out and coming forth than ever before. Many people are in the dark about these issues if they don’t personally experience it, but it is slowly becoming more out in the open. Once you know, you can’t ignore it. It gets hard to go to the grocery store sometimes because people want to speak out and tell me about what is happening.”
For a lot of us, we embrace change and it can be frustrating when that change is a lot slower than we would like it to be. How do you keep showing up and working towards social change when it is hard to see the progress? For Gustavo, “Social change through an intersectional lens is at the core of what we do so that everyone feels safe, loved, and cared for. We have a long way to go but changing society for the better is the reason why we exist.” What is one thing you can do today to plant a seed of social change?