I deeply appreciate the emails I have received in response to my columns. Thank you for engaging with me that way, or any way! I feel very grateful to be serving at Broadway.
Last week I shared how advocating for the Home Birth Safety Act was a radicalizing turning point in my life. My child, Joy, was just a baby when that happened. Joy's early years were all radicalizing for me, partly because I was a single mother. I was unable to find work outside of the home that would pay enough for childcare plus living expenses, so I nannied for a living. Seeing how hard this was, raising other people's children alongside my own, on my own, was very radicalizing.
But some events during that time had nothing to do with the economic difficulties of single parenting. In 2010 and 2011, I had a radio show called Systemic Effect in Asheville, NC. Its initial concept was a show about the intersection of spirituality and activism. That's a plenty interesting topic, but what I ended up realizing was that the people who really needed a platform were activists in the Black organizing community, who were doing great work but were very often ignored.
So, I changed the topic of the show to emphasize the important work happening in the Black community. And, I brought on a host from that community to help me host the show. I trained her in how to run the sound board, and for a time we co-hosted the show. We also became friends, and in visiting her home, I set foot in the projects for the first time. I saw firsthand how police surveillance was an oppressive force in the neighborhood. There was a check-point into the neighborhood, with spikes that only flattened down when you were driving in, not out. Mounted cameras looked not just at pedestrians, but also into houses. Segregation in Asheville looked like this. Police every half a block, security checkpoint, and invasive cameras.
Of course, Broadway is not situated in Asheville, NC, our church is in Chicago. And Chicago has its own problems with segregation and police overreach into the lives of black and brown people. We have work to do here. But my time in North Carolina had the effect of waking me up to the impacts of systemic racism in a way that hadn't hit home as hard before.
What has radicalized you? What makes you want to take action?