Stories

IT’S NOT THAT WE’RE RACIST, BUT…

Afraz, 23, has been involved in leading social and political justice but learned that change doesn’t happen in a fortnight.

I was working as a community liaison.

I realized my work was reactionary — there weren’t any objectives in sight or a mission. I decided to look for something with more direction. I now work at ACLU’s Racial Justice Program as a part of the support staff. It wasn’t long until I noticed New York City government is very unique — the way neighborhoods and communities are formed, you can’t miss the income disparity and how certain areas are more homogenous of certain cultures or ethnicities.

The realities of US vs. THEM were finding their way inside my 9-5.

I’m pretty creative with my time — I started looking at police records and the same issues kept coming up: a student gets into a verbal argument, school calls the police, police uses excessive force, child gets arrested.

There was a coded racial problem here.

It troubled me to find there’s more to do to combat hate. I noticed people are more concerned with being around “someone like them”, rather than rolling up their sleeves to tackle issues like hate and racial uproars.

It was at this moment when I asked myself, why should I care about social change? We all make the usual excuses — it doesn’t really affect me on a daily basis, we aren’t one of the more targeted minorities. I’ve been trying to push my friends and family to understand that the issues around us are all apart of a collective struggle.

There’s still a lot for me to learn before I encourage others to care. My friends and family are all pretty aware of the issues around us, but I want to push them further to do something about it. I’ve been reading books like the Color of Law and Freedom Is a Constant Struggle to help me get a deeper understanding of advocacy.

But I realized if we want change, we have to know that it really is a product of long hours, emotional investment and dedication.

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