Before, I joined Public Allies, I failed out of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I was asking God, “where do I go from here?”. I wanted be at a job where I can learn and do something bigger than myself. Working at a regular job, I was just there to make my money, but not a difference or building my character for the better. I wanted more for myself and I felt that, I deserved more.
I went through the process of looking at what the being a Public Ally stood for and how I could contribute the Amanda, I am and the Amanda, I want to be. I loved what they stand for, which made know me this is the service, I want to be a part of. After turning my application in, I told God, “If this is the journey for me, let me have it. If this will mold me into the person, you wanted me to become. Please grant me this opportunity!” A week or so later, I was thinking, I did not get in. I was actually ok with that because I knew God was telling me that’s not the place He wanted me to be. Some time goes by and I receive an email stating that they would like me to schedule an interview. I was overwhelmed with joy because not too long ago, I reading a letter from my university saying that I had to take a semester off because my grades showed that I was not mentally ready to be in college. Being young person and holding that sense of disappoint in my hand, I feel heavy and down to my lowest. On other hand, it is just like God to break you down to build you up. I was gracefully broken in the words of Tasha Cobbs Leonard!
When I first stepped in the space where all the other allies stood, I am was amazed and shocked by the diversity of identities. I was culturally shocked with love because I have never been in a space where all people where and accepted. Core Week was the first week of Public Allies also known as PA. I thought I was ready for what was about to come but I was not. I was not ready to be uncomfortable.
First day, we were told that we are going to play a game. We all had to line up on a line and hold each other hand. Now this was people that we did not know and their names were a mystery. Next, we were given a set of several questions that we had to answer. Depending on the question, we had to had to takes steps forward or backward. At the end, we were at placed where most hands were let go. I am not so sure of what they were trying to grasp in that activity. Looking back, I see that this experience was very traumatic for me. Not only was I the little Black girl in the room, I was the misfortune one. I know that’s a part of me but at the same time, those are pieces that I trying to let no longer define me, are indeed defining me. When I was teenager, I watched my nephew being taken from my home and while he was being taken my mother held his hand but then she was forced to let go. When you know you are connected to someone and having to let them go is hard. Those thoughts did not register on the first day because I was not trying to unpack all the baggage on the first day. The memory was still a deeply-rooted wound that has not fully healed. After that, I was not ready for what was to come next…
I understand the need to be accepting of your battle scars. Nevertheless, when you are asked to relive or revisit those battles should not be the place to begin to form a community. In my opinion, we should of only talked about how we had common values and what we would like to see out of our time here. We should saved the deep question for later down the week. I have to admit in the beginning, I did a lot of self-reflecting. First, I questioned, why I feel that my identities are a part of me but no longer defining me.
Sometimes, people define themselves by the successes or failures. In the end, we are truly defined by how we see ourselves. If we see ourselves a certain way, we demand other people see us in that same light. If I showed the little black girl scared, lonely, abused and misfortune was my past and not future, other people will know that I stepping into my future with a clean slate. Our pasts are like history book full of knowledge and lesson but the chapter we are in is still being written but the scars of our past will remind of us of our strength, if we let them. Somewhere along the line, we have to not let the past keep defining us, we must let it go . . .