I was sitting at a table in the Lumumba Center with my colleagues at Cooperation Jackson one day going over plans for Nubia’s Place Café and Catering Cooperative when a discussion started about #COP21 and how some of us were needing to attend. In the midst of the conversation the question came up of who wanted to go. I immediately stated that I was interested. I was interested because I wanted the experience and to help advance the demand for system change that I’m helping to achieve in my work with Cooperation Jackson.
It finally turned into a reality, WHEN MY FLIGHT CONFIRMATION WAS SENT TO MY EMAIL. ALTHOUGH WE HAD NOT STARTED PREPARATION YET... I WAS NERVOUS. minus the preparation for the trip (i.e. fundraising, reading countless articles and orientation meetings, etc.) when my flight confirmation was sent to my email. I was nervous for multiple reasons, the main one being traveling out of the country for the first time. While organizing the trip I came to the realization that the work I was doing with my political family made me feel back in my element, and that international travel, exchange and solidarity action is a core part of the work. I have been apart of several organizations in my life, but this work has been an added joy because I have seen progress in the work and it feels good. I always knew that because of my family’s political background that not only was it in my blood but I would find my way back doing the work that I absolutely love and always stood up for.
It wasn’t until Friday the 13th that something tragic happened in a country that I was soon to be traveling to that I had to personally rethink what I wanted to do. I didn’t think anything of it at first. I knew that I felt terrible that the country was attacked and that so many lives were lost, but as far as it was for my emotion towards the situation…. I can’t really say I had any. Let me explain before there are any misunderstandings. I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. I later commuted, hung out and lived on the east side of Chicago for several years before I moved to Jackson. I have seen EVERYTHING from losing close friends to being in the middle of situations that one would probably wet themselves because of the man they called death was knocking at the front door. I am saying this to say that if I could get through the majority of my life loving my city and never having fear in my body walking it then I sure wasn’t going to let the media and anyone else’s opinion detour me from #JacksonToParis. Of course I had a part of me that was egging me to rethink but then I had another part of me that said I walked in the middle of a war and am living it today.
I had several family and friends tell me that it was a bad idea, that I wasn’t thinking properly and that they understood what I was going for but asked was it worth risking my life for. After hearing all of the negativity I started to feel unsure. I then realized that I never fully took anyone’s advice and had I started I would be thrown in that percent that follows. Of course I wouldn't walk in front of a bus going 100 mph but I look to my spirit to guide me in the right direction. I know spirit wouldn’t allow me to head in harm's way. I have always been reliant on spirit and my gut. These experiences make me who I am as I continue to grow and prosper. This trip actually allows me to find my voice and be consistent and successful in achieving the goals and life's given rights I believe in. I had to ask those who were concerned for me how many people accomplished anything they never took a risk for. Being born into this society where we as a people are not considered equal and are still in the same position (if not worse) than our ancestors were centuries ago... now that is a risk.