200 Days Ago, I Decided To Change The World—Here's How It's Going
In 8 minutes and 46 seconds, my entire life changed.
My name is Taimani Emerald Reed, I am a mixed-race Black identifying woman, and as I watched George Floyd on the ground yelling for his mother, shouting “Mama, Mama,” a small voice called me back into the present.
“Mama, what’s wrong?” my three-year-old asked. “Mama, why are you crying?”
I didn’t have the words at the time. I hugged him, I sniffed his hair. I lied.
“Mama’s okay,” I said. “Everything’s fine, baby”
But as I held him, I felt overwhelmed by all the things I wanted to tell him. I didn’t have the words.
That day, when my son asked me “Mama, what’s wrong?” I didn’t have the words to tell him that we live in a country where people who are supposed to keep you safe may kill you, just for looking differently than they do. I didn’t have the words to tell him about the shadowy, evil systems that were put in place 400 years ago, that may still affect him someday. I didn’t have the heart to tell him how awful the world could be, if I couldn’t also give him hope.
So as any stubborn, Aries, mama-bear soul would, I decided to MAKE that hope.
I threw myself into creating inclusive and diversity focused, anti-racist art materials, specifically for children his age and beyond.
I’ve spent my days, evenings, and weekends organizing marches and reading books about activism to kids in parks.
Speaking on international news outlets and spreading my art across the world in peace conferences.
Creating The World Changers Program to give caregivers, students and teachers across the country access to community sponsored, inclusivity focused artwork; “D is for Diversity,” “A is for Ally,” and “In Our Class” are hanging in classrooms across the United States, and I couldn’t be prouder.
I became the hope that I needed to see in the world, I created the change I need to see in my children’s future. And after nearly 200 days of waking up every single day to change the world, here’s the biggest thing I’ve learned:
Everyone has a voice.
In the past, I’ve excluded myself from the narrative of Black liberation for many reasons.
I am a woman of color, with a white husband and white-passing children. I experience the privilege of lighter skin. I experience the privilege of knowing that, for the most part, my husband and children are going to come home safe to me. So many of my Black brothers and sisters do not have that luxury. In this country, skin like ours, skin the color of the finest cinnamon or most luxurious chocolate, is the kind of skin that can get you killed.
Many of my struggles and life experiences are not going to be the same as others of the Black community. But that does not mean that I do not have value in this movement. It does not mean that I do not have a voice that needs to be heard.
If you are a mother, we need you.
If you are an artist, we need you.
If you are a chef, a manager, a grocery store clerk, an actuary, an astronaut, we NEED you.
We all have an important gift. We all have an important purpose. For me, that’s art; for you, it will likely be something different.
But that’s what makes our world so beautiful.
We all have something special and important and different to bring to the table. Our lived experiences all bring learned lessons that we can share with others to uplift, elevate, and propel towards change.
This community that I’ve had the blessing of being embraced by in the past 200 days has given me so much. I could not have created so many waves, without the weather systems that people of all colors, races, and ages have rallied behind me. And just look how far we’ve come.
To the white folx still trying to find their place in The Black Lives Matter movement, In the Human Rights Movement, I say to you: Use your voice.
Use your voice to educate our children.
Use your voice to amplify our message.
Use your voice to halt hate speech and steer challenging conversations toward progress.
Use your voice (and your dollars) to support Black businesses, to elect Black officials, and to protect Black people in your community.
The only way forward is to go together. Let’s change the world.
As seen on Good Morning America & Huffington Post, Taimani Emerald Reed is a whimsical illustrator whose art is changing the world. Find her beautifully, unique artwork at www.emeraldcreative.org & Support The World Changers Program to send community sponsored inclusive learning tools to teachers & caregivers across the United States.
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