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No, I “Won’t Stay In My Lane”

Recently, I was speaking to someone (someone Black like myself) about how our state of affairs seem unreal.

Unreal, in the sense where marginalized Americans have to use great efforts to ignore reminders that as whole things aren’t good involving our experiences. Although, unless you live under a literal rock…I wish you good luck.

In response, I was speaking to a larger point. Should people choose to, we need to hold those responsible for what’s wrong with America and fix what we can. I mean everything; race issues, our fixation on the “immigrant threats” (there is no threat), poverty, LGBTA rights, and more. Yes, you can get quite tired unless you hone on what you can do or rather control.

My colleague’s answer to today’s problems and how to properly cope or handle them? “We should stay in our respective lanes”.

Allow me to explain fully what they mean. They argue that ultimately it’s in everyone’s interest to simply navigate their life only. It’s best if people; work, enjoy what they can, and live life as they want.

Now, let me say I do agree that people should exercise living life stress-free as they want. However life doesn’t operate so smoothly for everyone. It’s quite unfair and difficult for many.

So when I hear “stay in your lane”; what I hear is something like an admission to: I give up/I quit/I really can’t change anything/let me accept what’s wrong. At this point, you maybe reading this being rightfully critical of me— that’s fair. Calls to action and or asking people to change what they can; their town, city, state, family and etc to be better is the work of a few.

If we all “stayed in our lane” we would be worse off than we are now. How would our lives and opportunities be better if we didn’t demand they be better?

Here’s some examples of refusing the status quo.

If people didn’t go out of their way to make changes, we wouldn’t have our historic 116th congress on Jan 3, 2019.

A congress that saw more than 100 women elected. A congress where we saw the first; openly bisexual, Native, Black, Muslim and more first time representatives. Want to know what congress was like before? Take a look at the Republican Congress representatives — Notice any similarities there?

I’m sure each new member of congress shared a similar story where they were told they couldn’t do it. They wouldn’t be voted for. They couldn’t change things and so forth. Yet, they made it happen and we see them helping make America better.

One problem I have with “stay in your place’ is the notion we have no power. It’s the notion we should stay in our tiny little corners and not make a sound. Again, I say no to this.

Well, in another example of people saying they will not stand by; organizers stopped Amazon from coming to New York. Many people; protesters, politicians, and more fought Amazon. Through their efforts the public learned that if Amazon came to New York it would be disastrous.

If Amazon’s second headquarters came what would’ve happened NYC would’ve mirrored life in San Francisco. Property costs would rise and push people out of their city.

Keep in mind, New York is still a pricey city to live in as we speak. Can you imagine the crisis these people averted? All because they refused to just let this giant move in with their promises and brought it to public attention.

As it’s Black History Month, I need to pause for a moment. We have an entire month dedicated to people who scoffed at the idea of staying put. There’s countless stories of folks that looked the status quo in the eye said I WILL NOT. They faced push back that I can only imagine.

Allow me to share a Black History lesson. Feliz Morisseau Leroy is an influential Haitian educator, author, poet, playwright and etc.

You know what he helped challenge? The status of how the Creole language was seen by the world at large. He was a only a teacher when he began to embark on his work. The problem he faced? Creole, back then was hardly written and viewed as less important compared to French (hmm I wonder why) in Haiti.

His eventually lead him to translate a Greek tragedy to Creole. Afterwards, he continued to write more and more poems, plays, & so forth in Creole.

He proceeded to be an advocate for the inclusion of Creole in the world of academia. Then in 1991, it became an officially recognized language — one that I’m proud to speak. Again, the point being he decided to not sit idly by and see a disservice continue to Haitians everywhere.

Truthfully, I could just list more examples but you get the point. Our present isn’t changed if we accept to stay where we are. Our lives can’t be better unless we challenge. Our respective identities can’t be seen unless we demand to be seen.

Yes, it is your right to just live and enjoy how comforting it can be. There’s nothing wrong with that it is your right. Now, when you want…no need society to be better don’t stay in your bubble.

Because whom can we trust to take the actions we need? Others? Let’s not fool ourselves. A majority of folks will merely stand around hoping someone else does it. I’m not saying I or you can change the world/an entire nation. However if you get enough people motivated we can--as proven by history.

I could go on and on. But I’ll leave you with a message my mother shared with me during my formative years.

If you don’t raise hell when you can you’re likely to wake up living in it.

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I bat for PoCs, marginalized, equality, inclusion & geekdom. I'm warming the bench until coach subs me in. https://linktr.ee/jeffreyrousseau

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