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I’ve been reflecting on my own journey understanding the inequities we face in the U.S. I have to admit that I’m new. I started learning and reading (resources including yours) in the summer of 2020. Back then, I felt like we were on the brink of change. But now, I’m not so sure. How did we get to a world where we don’t have reproductive rights anymore? And that we’re so split on whether or not we should stop a genocide? Things feel worse in many ways now than they did before.

I know it’s the holiday season, and you asked for wishes, but I’m not feeling it. I don’t know what else to do or whether or not we’re even worth saving anymore. I don’t want to believe it, but I feel it. What else should I be doing? How do I gain hope again?

This is a necessary and urgent question, and I’m so glad you asked. First, let’s recap—you’re right. We’re in the moment of a conservative, “anti-woke” movement. This is in direct opposition to the progress outlined in the past few years, including (but not limited to) an increase in reproductive rights, the legalization of same-sex marriage, our first Black president, a global pandemic, the #MeToo movement, and the movement for Black lives. If progress hadn’t occurred, there would be no outrage. And the growing outrage of the Left in response signifies a shift will happen again soon, repeating the cycle. 

But our nation has swung from conservative to liberal viewpoints and leadership and balked after significant progress on civil rights. It’s an unfortunate part of the cycle of our nation that I don’t believe we should accept any longer, and it makes me curious about other forms of political structures that might be more well-suited to change.

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Increased awareness about inequities makes them more apparent; you’ll see how systemic oppression plays out at the doctor’s office, your child’s school, or the process of buying a new home. It doesn’t necessarily mean that things are worse or better, but your awareness of them is heightened.

So, are things getting better or worse? The answer is yes, but that’s not the critical question. The question that’s worth answering is what follows: “What will you do about it?” If I responded, “yes, the current state is worse,” or “yes, the current state is better,” would it change your response? Does a state of urgency mobilize you or drive you to complacency? 

We singularly can’t choose what comes next. But our unity, en masse, for justice and liberation, absolutely will. So what happens next depends on you. Mariame Kaba said, “let this radicalize you rather than lead to despair.” That statement is always true: both when we glimpse moments of how liberatory and free the future can be, and when we’re feeling numb and disillusioned. There’s a reason dreams are fleeting, and that’s because they’re waiting to be made real. We get to choose which direction the pendulum swings next, and we can’t forget our capacity to chart a new course toward the future we deserve.

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Felecia Phillips Ollie DD (h.c.) is the inspiring leader and founder of The Equality Network LLC (TEN). With a background in coaching, travel, and a career in news, Felecia brings a unique perspective to promoting diversity and inclusion. Holding a Bachelor's Degree in English/Communications, she is passionate about creating a more inclusive future. From graduating from Mississippi Valley State University to leading initiatives like the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Equal Employment Opportunity Program, Felecia is dedicated to making a positive impact. Join her journey on our blog as she shares insights and leads the charge for equity through The Equality Network.

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