October 27, 2016
by Asha Molock, PWN-USA Philadelphia Strategic Communications Action Team Rep
A month has passed since the 2nd National PWN Speak Up Summit, held September 27-30, 2016 in Ft. Walton Beach Florida, and I am still feeling the effects.
On brisk mornings in the Northeast, I fondly remember the humid air of Florida, the warm ocean and the sand between my toes as I jogged on the beach. I can still see the smiling faces and friendly greetings of my PWN sisters as we walked pass each other on our way to the various workshops. Sometimes not really knowing one another but still feeling the sisterhood, solidarity and connection.
Since I have returned, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the workshops that I attended.
A great deal of what I heard and saw has stayed on my mind and I’m still in processing mode. In one of the workshops I remember hearing the word brokenness and I had to give that word some deep thought. It prompted me to question myself. Am I broken? I slept on that question for a few nights. And although I do have some issues, I think that my personal life is pretty much together. But, at the same time, I am conscious about how much I am connected to the world. When I wake up with a headache, I try not to think about it personally, I wonder who else woke up with a headache too. I feel my connection to other women and my community, and what affects the community affects me.
Honestly, I cannot consider myself whole and healthy when the very systems that have an impact on me and my community are sick and broken. Yes, I am broken from feeling the effects of a broken system.
So, every time a person experiences HIV stigma, discrimination or criminalization, I am broken. When a woman of trans experience is murdered, I am broken. When a woman is denied her reproductive rights, I am broken.When Black lives don’t matter, I am broken. When a woman is murdered after disclosing her HIV status, I am broken. When basic human rights are continuously denied, I am broken. But being broken doesn’t mean that a person is down for the count, it means that you stand up and be counted. Brokenness fuels advocacy; if it’s broke let’s fix it, and advocacy is the glue that’s needed. Let’s make the spirit of the Speak Up Summit last, do what you can to make a difference, join PWN if you have a chapter in your city or state or come on a monthly work group call.
Advocacy can be therapeutic both personally and collectively, for when the systems that keep us broken are healed, then we can become whole and healed.