I think my first “act of service” was when I was just a wee little Gemmie-tot, my godmother/aunt took me with her to participate in Hands Across America with my other aunt and cousins. The benefit event included about 6.5 million people holding hands in a human chain in a path across the continental USA and raised $34 million. Around this same time, my favoritest song was Quincy Jones’s “We Are the World” featuring all the many stars I knew and loved even back. In fact, I have video footage (taken by my dad) of me bursting into song at the most random moments, as if unexpectedly crooning my little heart out was the key to saving our own lives.
Fast forward 2 decades. The idea of saving lives, changing the world, making a better tomorrow has stuck with me. I can’t seem to shake the notion that I am the world, I am the children, I am the one to make a brighter day. I can’t help but think this may be my destiny.
Honestly, I can’t remember a time I didn’t care about the welfare of this country or the larger global community. Just yesterday one of my labmates asked me, “What is your main goal in life?” After jokingly responding “marry rich,” I gave him the answer I’d given just about every one else who’d asked me before: “I want to save the world.” Now I recognize this broad and Utopian answer is akin to Miss America wanting world peace, but that it is a sincere answer and is about as specific as I can be. *shrug*
You see, I don’t really care what or how I make the world a better place. I just recognize that right now, in the US, it’s a pretty sh*tty place to live if you’re a have not, constantly being taken advantage of by the haves. I don’t want to be one of those educated, successful haves who gets her slice of the pie, moves to a great neighborhood that has great public schools (while also being able to afford to private school just in case), and turns a deaf ear and blind eye to the needs of those who weren’t able to achieve what I achieved. I mean, that’s the American way, right? #FckYouPayMe
I won’t get on my high horse any more at this moment about the obligations and responsibilities we–haves, especially colored haves–possess when it comes to giving back and helping others (namely children and their child-like parents). But I will say this: I am committed to making the world a better place. I am determined not to simply e-rant about budget cuts to education in my current resident state (PA), I actually exercised my voting power by ranting to policy makers1. I am determined to not simply say I want to open a charter school, I plan to actually open one. I am determined not to simply be outraged by the lack of urgency for education reform, I am studying the issues2 and supporting the efforts of organizations and policy makers who advocate for education reform.
I am sowing the seeds of change. Will I really save the entire world? Not likely. Will I change the currently abysmal face of education in the US as we know it? Slim chance. Will I leave my community a better place than I found it? Possibly. But despite the seemingly impossible task of saving the world ahead of me, I’m desperately determined to die trying. I’m not a superhero and I’m only one regular ass person. Many before me have tried and failed. But I’m still going to join in the fight. Because… If not me/us, who? If not now, when?
Have you ever felt really passionate about something that you can’t stop thinking about? Do you have big dreams that to others seem far fetched? Would you support my pending campaign to become the “super superintendent of education” (the job title is a work in progress) so I could make changes to the education system both federally AND locally to create some order out of this chaos?
My dreams won’t be deferred,
~Gem the Advocate
1Since PA’s governor announced his proposed budget cuts earlier this spring, on multiple occasions I have visited with city (Pgh) and state legislators to discuss the cuts to education, in particular. I’ve lobbied on Capitol Hill about other issues. I also work with various organizations to tackle policy issues and social injustices. My social action game is not a game.
2If you want to learn more about the issues that constantly have me in an uproar on twitter, check out the documentary “Waiting for Superman.” If that gets you on board, I have plenty more in depth reading for you… #letmeknow