Change On Our Own Terms!!
I, like most people, belong to so many communities that the challenges to creating change can be overwhelming. Two communities I am a passionate member of intersect in many ways: homeless women and children seeking to recover from violence and/or addiction, and urban Indigenous women confronting the specific problems all modern Natives face combined with the cultural confusion of being both Native and urban. The deeply embedded systemic oppression (systemic racism and classism, family cycles of abuse and violence, poor public policy that perpetuates these systems, unaddressed violence of many types by the police and other groups meant to protect us, climates that foster poverty in certain demographics.……I could go on and on) are in my view the greatest challenges for both. In working to meet the most immediate needs of these women, it can be difficult to see the larger range of factors that affect them so specifically. However, understanding and redefining the big picture is key to dismantling these oppressive cycles one small step at a time.
One major way I’ve confronted these challenges is education. Education isn’t just academic; in fact it can mean quite the opposite. Higher education is great, but it also often works within the framework of oppressive systems. Education means listening, searching for the places where women are speaking their lived realities, and just simply listening. These women write books, these women share their lives online, these women are next to us at the bus stop, neighbors in our apartment buildings, and seeking help and a better life at the shelters, community centers, and health centers where we volunteer. When we listen to the voices of our own communities, we gain all the information we need in order to create change on our own terms. We begin to gain the confidence to share our own stories. When change comes on our own terms, it builds a system outside the systems of oppression, and we are no longer subject to it.
Pulsewire is an amazing educational resource. It is a stellar example of communities creating change on their own terms. Our backgrounds, locations, and stories can vary widely; but what an empowering experience to find our intersectionality. There is an invaluable environment here that lets us share our experiences with pride and without shame, to feel supported and strong enough to take that step toward creating our own solutions. Reading through the many many submissions to Voices of our Future, I find no end of examples that I can model my own efforts towards change after. I feel no hesitation to ask questions, initiate discussion, and look for support and advice from women who shared here and who have created successful models for change.
I truly believe that the only effective change for our communities will be the change we make on our own terms. It is time to send the message that we won’t live within the systems that oppress us. Pulsewire is a community that has made this a reality.