Sunday, July 17, 2016

Storytelling Is Political

I had a professor and mentor - a Black Latino from Panama and a world-class scholar.

When he came to the U.S., he gravitated to the Latin@ community but was rejected because of his race even though he spoke the same language and shared similar values.

Everyone - from scholars to the immigrant who owned the copy center where I bought the reader for his class - says the same thing about him: he is humble and gracious.

In class one day, he told us a story about being out in the community for a meeting and walking with a colleague when he got stopped by the police with guns drawn and put face down. Years later, retelling that story still made him emotional.

You can have a PhD from a prestigious university, you can be a well respected scholar, you can be kind and respectful to everyone you meet regardless of race, class or gender and still be a target of racial injustice.

As a social worker, I have stories to tell about law enforcement too - how we teamed up to go to homes where children were being sexually abused or homes where children were holding a knife threatening to kill themselves. I couldn't have done my job safely without them.

I'm on a personal-professional mission, because the personal is political.

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