Inspired, Educated, Mobilized & Ready to Talk: A Call for Dialogue in Times of Conflict
Today’s guest blog is adapted from two letters AmeriCorps alumna Nichole Hill shared with AmeriCorps Alums after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. It is also part of the AmeriCorps Alums REALTalk blog series on race, equity, and AmeriCorps alumni as leaders.
I was challenged by and am proud of the two years I served as a Team Leader with AmeriCorps NCCC in Denver, CO from 2008-2010. In NCCC I saw the unequal distribution of resources and access to opportunities that exist across communities all over the country, and the consequences of those inequities. I also saw government agencies, nonprofits, churches, community groups, and everyday citizens come together to combat those imbalances in an effort to create a more equitable world for themselves, their neighbors and future generations. I was inspired.
After NCCC I worked on staff at Teach For America in Washington, D.C. for two years and learned about the structures and history that created the opportunity gaps I’d seen in NCCC. I learned about the policies and mindsets that persist in sustaining that gap to this day. I also saw teachers, families, and community members come together to shepherd children to the other side of that gap and into the opportunities that all students deserve regardless of their zip code. I was educated.
Then I moved to New York City and worked on staff for City Year where I learned that passion, fire, and indignation have their place in this fight to strengthen our communities. I saw corps members and staff grapple daily with the question of whether they were doing all that they could for those they served. At the end of a long day, I would see groups of corps members huddled together and hard at work. When asked if they planned to head home soon, they would so often answer, without even having to ask one another, “let’s try another approach and keep working at this a little while longer.” I was mobilized.
Now I am back in Washington, D.C. working for DC Public Schools and reflecting on all that my experiences in AmeriCorps have taught me. I’m thinking too about the impact of the national service movement on the communities I continue to serve.
My service has shown me that there are more of us willing to sacrifice daily in order to create equal opportunities for all, than there are people who are willing to give in to fear or sacrifice for hate. My service has also shown me that often times, the good guys have to shout to be heard.
So, let me holler at you: let’s start a dialogue. Let’s create spaces to talk about the violence that has and continues to hurt the communities we pledged to serve and then let’s keep the conversation going. As AmeriCorps alums we are a collective of nearly one million woke individuals whose life stories all feature incredible chapters on how action through service shaped our personal trajectories and belief systems. I believe that national service programs, members, and alumni are among our country’s most valuable assets in the fight against inequality and injustice, and I hope that my fellow alums will stand in solidarity with each other and the AmeriCorps pledge that unites us.
Not sure how to start a conversation? Let’s figure it out together. Reach out directly to me by email to start a virtual dialogue with me about the role that we can play in affecting change in our communities. There isn’t a perfect way to start these discussions, but the first step is to try.
I believe in the power of the AmeriCorps alumni community. Thank you for what you continue to do to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier.
Still getting things done!
Interested in reading about the AmeriCorps Alums organizational response to recent events or want to share feedback with the organization? Click here to read a letter from the Co-Executive Directors of AmeriCorps Alums in response to the deaths of Alton Sterling; Philando Castile; Dallas Officers Brent Thompson, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, and Patrick Zamarripa; and Baton Rouge Officers Matthew Gerald and Montrell Jackson and Deputy Brad Garafola. The letter also shares more about how you can share your thoughts and feedback with AmeriCorps Alums.