A Tale of Two Soap Boxes

By DeShauna Hollie

I have a soap box that I’ve been silently standing on for a few years now. I stepped up on to it timidly and shyly, afraid of what would happen if I said these words out loud:

“My skin is not a crisis or a trauma that needs to be fixed or saved. Please stop trying to save me. I am not on trajectory of self-destruction simply because I was born black. Neither are any of the black children in our schools and in our community. Please stop trying to save them. Please stop treating them as if they are on a trajectory of self-destruction just by being born with black skin.”

I’ve gotten louder and bolder with my words, but the implications of what could happen to me and those in my community by me saying these words out loud still scares me. The crisis and trauma doesn’t lie within my skin color. I repeat that my skin color does not need saving. A broken system that allows systemic racism to prevail is the crisis and trauma that needs saving.

So, I say a little louder, a little bolder “All the effort focused on saving my skin color and others like me (born with black or brown skin), all of the effort focused on fixing our skin color should be refocused on the systems of racism and injustices that prevail in our society.” I say this after a white supremacist march in Charlottesville. I say this after SB4 (“Sanctuary City” Bill) was almost implemented. I say this after the announcement of the phasing out of DACA: “our skin color, does not need saving or fixing. We are not broken; the system is broken.”

Recently I took a trip to visit friends in Portland, Oregon. On that trip, I was reminded of another soap box that I like to stand on. On this soap box, I am bolder and less hesitant as I describe all the things that I have been able to be a part of in Waco. My friends were transfixed as I described my life here in Waco.

On this soap box, I like to talk about how easy it is to eat local in Waco, especially when farms like the World Hunger Relief Farm offer a whole farm CSA (it includes vegetables, meat and eggs and fun products like goat’s milk soap and lip balm). I like to talk about how I can commute to work and other places on my bike or by using our public transit system (an all-day pass is $3). On this soap box, I also talk about how accessible our city council is, how accessible our school board is and how easy it is to be a part of the growth and change happening in the many diverse communities that make up our city.

On this soap box, I am reminded that even though there is a broken system that allows racism and injustice to prevail there is also an alternative to that system that we are working towards in Waco.

While in Portland I saw a great yard sign that said:

I was so enamored with the version of America portrayed on the sign, that I bought one for my own yard. It is a message that I have seen modeled time and time again in our city of Waco. As Waco changes and grows I hope that “In Our Waco” we will continue to work on fixing a broken system. I hope that we will continue to work to model what it means to be a welcoming city, an inclusive city, a city were racism and injustice does not prevail. I’ll step down from my soap boxes now. Thank you for listening.

DeShauna Hollie is a native Wacoan who love discovering new things about Waco on her bike. She is an an educator, social justice advocate, and a poet.

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