(Photo by Claire Wolters)
This essay was written by Rakee Starwind and originally published on Kensington Voice, a new community-driven newsroom serving the heart of Kensington.
I was in elementary school when I first became aware of environments of racism. It was something I read about in books, and it was something I witnessed firsthand while growing up in the Richard Allen projects.
At the ages of 10 and 14, I saw people in my neighborhood murdered for resisting arrest. I remember thinking that I needed to step up and raise people’s levels of consciousness about these issues to stop these environments of racism.
I began reading Malcolm X in elementary school and learned that he intervened in incidents of police brutality to help people. I discovered that some people hate each other because of their differences. I decided that instead, people should unite, love each other, and stand firm. My success meant nothing if I wasn’t using it to help someone else.
I involved myself in social activism and started my own social activist group with my Uncle Wayne in 2014. Our group, called the Unitarian Universalist Activism Social Lounge for a Wealthy Mind and Conscience (UUA), battles both white supremacy and black supremacy through protesting, sign holding, and good works. We meet every Thursday and encourage people to see that wealth comes out of the heart and mind — not the pocket. Black or white, it’s not the dollar that validates your group, it’s each individual’s intelligence and awareness of their own heart and conscious.
A lot of people are joining us and becoming social activists now. Still, others are hesitant to join because they’re afraid of getting locked up for protesting. That’s a real possibility, but so far, no one from my group has gotten locked up. Sometimes, the police will even honk their horn for support and justice when they drive by. This is astonishing, I believe that many police are changing their ways and protecting the community.
When community members are socially engaged and active, Kensington can flourish.
I use my platform as a social activist to love my community. Outside of the work I do with my group, I often offer spare rooms in my apartment to house people in need. More people should do things like that. Black or white, it’s horrendous that people have to endure homelessness and poverty. Community members should step up and help people experiencing homeless by being kindhearted (helping people get programs) and having faith that we can help them get back on their feet.
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In addition to my social activism, I work as a private contractor and a library volunteer at McPherson Square Branch. At the library, I try to be an example to the kids. I want them to know that if they want to be a social activist, they can do it, too. Whatever they want to be, they should go for it and pursue their dreams.
In Kensington, the need for social activism is huge. Kensington is one of the most dangerous areas in Philadelphia right now, and two specific needs here are to stop violence and drug use.
These problems make me upset. People who are on drugs still deserve to live a good life, but it feels like they are not listening to reasoning and logic and overlooking the benefits of stopping drug use. However, I believe that there has to be a break to this vicious cycle one day. Stopping drug use could raise their conscious level as well and allow them to make better decisions about life. It’s only a matter of time.
Until then, I’ll continue to show my community love by giving speeches at my church, The Church for Restoration in Mt. Airy, to encourage people. My goal is not to motivate them, but to inspire them, because motivation is only temporary while inspiration can stay with someone for a lifetime and enable them to make a change within themselves.
Social activism meetings at the UUA can help people become more aware of what’s going on in the world, which will educate them with a wealth of intelligence and enable them to change themselves and their communities. When community members are socially engaged and active, Kensington can flourish.-30-
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