The trailer for the recent biopic, Judas and the Black Messiah, opens with Fred Hampton shouting to the crowd with a call and response, “ I am… a Revolutionary”. This opening scene can bring chills up your spine especially if being a revolutionary excites you. For most, you are just trying to figure out how you can make a difference in your own little bubble, in your own little world. And others might not even be interested in creating change for anyone at all.
I am here to tell you that we all can contribute to the revolutionary change of equity, and in fact, the little steps we make irregardless of whether we are thinking about how equity can impact the community around you.
We are kicking off this blog and resource site, “The Frame Up” for several reasons. There is a lot of equity talk in 2021 and we are definitely trying to be a part of it. Although, as I meet and talk with people, we aren’t trying to duplicate the work that is already being done, we want to add and contribute where the need is.
As we look into our communities, and see the greatest needs, there is no doubt that for many Austinites, Texans, Americans… their life can feel like a frame up.
So it was important for us – that this was our starting point and thus the name of our blog. (For a full explanation of “the Frame Up” check out our Homepage)
We want to turn the frame up on its head for our most vulnerable populations and we decided that we were going to lead with social equity.
“Social Equity is the active commitment to fairness, justice, and equality in the formulation of public policy, distribution of public services, implementation of public policy, and management of all institutions serving the public directly of by contract.Johnson and Svara (2011)
Social equity is a fancy word in public administration, and academic scholars, way smarter than me, theorize and strategize about policies that will create more equitable governments and systems.
And this is why we are here, to increase equity in our society, through these systems.
For the first time, more people want to be invested in justice and fairness – but are unclear about how they go about helping with this effort without becoming an advocate or activist or a politician. Well, join us here, our goal is to pursue equity in digestible and actionable ways.
Because we know the lack of equity in our systems causes our communities biggest issues. Pursuing economic equity, racial equity and health equity is needed, because the lack of equity in these areas touch everything we do such as lack of equal education, access to reliable public transportation, training for jobs, affordable housing, and the list goes on.
And everyone, including me, has to take a step back and realize disparities that are all around us that we fail to see in our own lives. The farther you are away from inequity – if you are not a minority group or live far above the poverty line – and surrounded by people in your same position, you are less likely to see all of the ills of inequity unless you are intentional about it. Even for me as a black woman, I remember the first time, I realized I also could be out of touch as well, if I was blind to it. I was 21, and it left an imprint on me.
I was in college and a little background to help understand the story, I am named after my Grandmother who received an 8th grade education – but emphasized to her children the importance of education. My aunts and uncles were first generation college graduates in the 1960s and 70s, using trial and error as their guiding light. They created a family tradition called “Hanging of the Tassels” where we celebrated any graduation from high school through graduate school as a family. By the time I graduated high school, there were over 30 tassels on this decorative mantle. We all wanted our tassels on this mantle. So when I followed my Mother’s footsteps to attend the historically black college, Tuskegee University in the 2000s – I was going to get my second tassel. The majority of the friends I selected in college, all of their parents also went to college, a few of them, were even 3rd generation college students.
I don’t think I intentionally avoided first generation college students, but I gravitated towards students who were similar to me. But when I went on to serve as the Student Body President my senior year, that fall, I interacted with a number of Freshmen who were first generation struggling to get everything in order to attend Tuskegee. They were filled with a little anxiety as the process was new to them, I was able to assist some of these students along with their parents who needed help with understanding financial aid and housing. I realized then how much I needed to be more of a resource and more concerned about equity and access for first generation students. We did not start college with the same amount of resources and knowledge. More importantly, I realized there was a whole segment of the student body that I subconsciously wasn’t paying attention to and what hit me harder, those students were my mother, my aunts and uncles just 30 years prior.
It was so humbling.
And from that point on, at every stage of my life since then, I find it important to still be in touch with those I am working to help. We can lend all of the hands, donate, and speak up – but the first step is learning the needs of our communities, and keeping an open mind to their challenges.
So we are here to join the effort, not to forge our own path. We will look at data, but we will also listen to people’s stories. We will look at policies that are working and some that are not, we will look to the needs of our communities and work to find solutions.
We will follow issues facing Austin and Texas, we might even dabble into some national issues every now and then.
Until next time,