2017 was some year. From destructive weather and fires, to witnessing the chaos in Washington, D.C., to bold racism in Charlottesville, and everything in between, it left many us exhausted. Here locally, the voices of the protestors rang out declaring their dissatisfaction of the Jason Stockley verdict and the failure of St. Louis’ mayor, Lyda Krewson, to lead, serve, and protect. In Ferguson, Missouri, located in north St. Louis County, striking workers demanded that their voices be heard by those in power. These workers care for the elderly and their positions demand dignity and respect. Despite all of this (and much that I did not mention), some good came out of 2017.
Several individuals came forward to declare that they would not stand idly by while our local, state, and national governments desecrated its citizens. Some people decided to run for office, some formed or joined Political Action Committees, some created meeting and online groups, and some formed nonprofit organizations. A Red Circle was birthed from this same movement.
I founded A Red Circle in March, 2017 to empower my community of north St. Louis County, Missouri. Years of built up racism finally took its toll on the region in August, 2014. Those events shook me to my core and forced me to don my own racial equity lens to really see what had been in front of me my entire life. Businesses do not just close; schools do not just become underfunded; jobs do not just leave; and healthy food does not just up and walk away from the most populous region of St. Louis County. But, years of inequity, inequality, racist policies, laws, practices, and procedures that infiltrated the community, and poor planning caused North County’s current economic situation to exist. Once I fully understood all of this, I knew it would take a mixture of short-term and long-term solutions to fix what was years in the making.
This is my community. I live, shop, play, worship, and now work here full-time. The final day of Kwanzaa 2017 ended on January 1, 2018 and its principle is Imani, meaning faith. The explanation of this principle (in short) is to believe in our people and in the victory of our struggle. Hebrews 11:1 in the Christian Bible states that, “Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Finally, Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
I believe I can make a difference in my community, so I am putting my faith to action. I am taking that first step up the staircase. A Red Circle made sure progress in 2017 but, I believe we will see much more success in 2018. With the help of our friends, supporters, neighbors, and volunteers, we will begin to see lasting, social change. So, I say welcome 2018!