Some years ago, I was fortunate to serve as the Executive Director of Girls Inc. of NYC. It was an amazing experience. I am forever changed by the girls I met and the women who stood with me.
We did a project once where girls in our programs shared their stories of origin. They talked about their dreams for the future. I love the little publication that resulted from that project. I wrote something to introduce that project and reading my own words again after all of these years reminded me of my commitment to the struggle. Every now and then, we all need to be reminded why we signed up to fight.
What are you from?
Why are you in the fight?
Where are you going next?
Here is what I wrote for them many moons ago…
WHERE I’M FROM
I stand on a history that gave me
ground to grow in spite of
growing up in Newark, NJ —
the sixth of seven children born
to a single mother
who worked two jobs and still needed
public assistance to make ends meet….
I stand on a conviction that gave me
hope in spite of a community holding
low or no expectations
dreaming small dreams
rendering little girls invisible —
boxed in by bold black lines with reinforced corners
by the message of the day: “you can only reach as far as those around you.”
WHERE I’M GOING
Deeper into the thick of the fight
grateful and humbled by the opportunity
to actively push a course of action
that ensures higher expectations
greater, more vibrant visibility
and shattered boxes
by the sheer force of a new message – the truth:
“You, little girl, can reach as far as you can dream – and then some.”