Written By: Jordannah Elizabeth
I met playwright and activist, Sheila Gaskins for the first time last weekend. I only knew her through social media and from a couple of letters she wrote me via email when I was working to combat racism at a local publication in Baltimore by demanding a Black editor be hired at an all white paper. Shelia sent a letter of support and told me a simple and popular little saying that always makes me think of her when I become exasperated with my socio political circumstances. She told me, “Be the change you want to see.”
When I finally ran into her at a coffee shop, we chatted for a bit. I told her of some of my woes of feeling a bit isolated in my work – a Black woman pent on immersing herself in studying feminist existentialism, writing folk music and practicing “conscious self assertion” (I made that up). Sheila listened, insisted on buying a copy of my new book, “The Warmest Low” and then gave me a quote she’d handwritten in her notebook.
Here is the quote:
“When justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, when ignorance prevails and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither person nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass
A historical rumination on “the safe space”? Hmm.
Thank you, Sheila.