On Martin Luther King Jr Day, I woke up and reached for my phone. The first screen that popped up was my friend's Instagram post:
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
I read the quote attributed to Dr. King a few times and closed my eyes. Inside my chest, I felt the old ache stir up - the ache that used to show up when I felt powerless and afraid to speak up. The ache that comes with grief - when fear robs us from life.
My friend used to be a public defense attorney in NYC, and would often share with me his passion for helping those who had nobody to ask them what had happened to them (not just 'what they did.')
I was a 'fresh off the boat' immigrant then and, although shocked by his stories, I couldn't quite grasp the root of the problem. I grew up with strong beliefs in equality of all people regardless of race, class, gender or religion, and learning about racism and segregation that still existed was shocking. Realizing that in America, which I had held in my heart as the 'promised land' people still didn't have the same opportunities to thrive, was painful. Being yelled at by angry individuals who would tell me to go back to my country if I didn't like the way things were run here, was horrifying. I tried to help in my own ways, but for the most part I stayed silent, admiring people who weren't afraid from a distance.
I observed them, learned from them, and when I felt ready, I stepped in closer. That's when I met Ms. Clemmie. She was not silent. She was loud in her fierce passion to help the rest of us try to understand the root of the problems we are dealing with - like street violence, drug abuse, sex trafficking.
She lived through it, experienced it, knew it first-hand and she offered concrete solutions.
Our silence is often due to fear of not knowing what to do, how to get involved in a constructive and informed way.
Ms. Clemmie is one of those leaders who empowers each one of us.
But before she could speak up, she had to heal and receive support from a loving community. Like Clemmie, the future leaders need the same from us.
Nashville Peacemakers is one of the sources of support and healing.
Thank you for being a part of it!
for Team Nashville Peacemakers, Tatiana ‘Tajci’ Cameron, Board member