By Simone Evans
My experience in Guatemala was unforgettable. Volunteering at the hospital, dinner conversations with my host family that lasted for hours, and coming together with my peers was a transformative experience and changed me in ways I couldn’t anticipate. When I got home, I felt very inspired by my experience in Guatemala but I didn’t know what to do with these feelings. I wasn’t sure what the impact of the immersion would be on my life.
That changed when I attended a week-long workshop at The Tyree Scott Freedom School. It is a program the focuses on educating and teaching youth about oppression within our community towards people of color. Through activities and conversations at the Freedom School, I learned about injustice and the oppression facing others. We evaluated how racism is still prevalent today in the prison system, education system, and in our community. It was mind blasting because I thought I was aware of most injustices people of color were facing, but I learned that racism is more pervasive than I’ve ever known. The school was primary African American youth, but there were people of other ethnicities there as well. We did a power shuffle where they asked questions about our home life, and experiences we’ve faced in the world. Some questions like “Do your parents own a house?” took you a step forward; other questions like “Were you surrounded by drugs?” took you a step back. By the end of the power shuffle, I was shocked. I am mixed race and I found myself in the middle of the spectrum, all of the Caucasian people were in the front, and most darker-skinned individuals were in the back. That was when the reality of our world hit me. I’ve always felt sympathy and empathy for others but now I understand oppression and struggle on a deeper level. I am more aware of the suffering of humankind; I now see innocent people are dying day by day, in situations similar to our fictional gruesome movies. Now, I am able to put myself in other people’s shoes and try to feel what others might be feeling as the result of oppression. Fighting oppression is something that has become very important to me, and I don’t think I would’ve ever felt this passionate without experiencing or seeing these things first hand.
I have continued to pursue this passion for social justice as a member of the Pro Justice team on the Youth Board. We are working to identify oppression issues in our everyday lives and learning how to address them. Our goal is our title, Pro Justice: to create a world where we all live equal amongst one another. A world where we aren’t judged by the way we were born. We are creating awareness, and although people may say, “you can’t change the world,” by every person we inspire, that’s one more person on the side of equality, one more person to spread the word. These experiences helped me realize the life I truly want to live, and the people that I want to live it with me. My experience with Global Visionaries and the Freedom School opened these doors for me and for that, I cannot thank them enough.