Change.

Written by: JaQuette Gilbert

It’s something we as writers hope to create through our writing. However, change comes with a price. This is what literary activist Renée Watson explores in both her New York Times bestseller Piecing Me Together and This Side of Home. Watson reminds us that change is never easy nor is it always clear what the ramifications will be because of it. The social and political changes we hope to create may not manifest in the way we envisioned but it shouldn’t stop us from taking action.

Sometimes we set out to write a story, poem, or article to educate our readers and make them aware of social and political issues that need to not only be addressed but changed. Yet, unknowingly, we, too, are changed by our research and self-discovery that goes into the process of writing. We realize that hatred and bigotry may very well live within the crevices of our own heart. We are then left to wrestle with our demons while challenging those who want to keep prejudice and fear alive in the hearts of our fellow countrymen and women. This is the price to pay when we choose to write as a form of activism. We pay by opening ourselves and others up to undeniable truths.

One of these truths involves the history of racism and injustice many minorities have suffered in this country. Literary activists like Renée Watson remind us that every White person, Republican, Democrat, or any member of a single group is not at fault. Every person who doesn’t look, act, or believe like us isn’t the enemy. As we work to bring about social and political changes through our writing, we must be open to changes that we need to make within, too. We must be open to working with those who are different. The truth is, we need each other to make real social and political changes happen.   

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” To eradicate the hatred that floods our social media feeds and permeates our neighborhoods, we need each other. We need to love one another as our Father loves us.

We also need to have a certain level of grace and understanding that everyone doesn’t see the world through our lens. We have different upbringings and experiences that shape the way we see each other and ourselves. We aren’t born hating one another. Hatred is taught. Yet, through writing as activism, I believe we can change the narrative. We can teach each other to heal, to share our stories, and to love unconditionally.

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