The prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “stick”.
Stick hum…the first thing that comes to mind is a friend of mine, Willie Baptist, always says” You have to stick and stay” meaning you can’t just show up when things affect you. You have to be there for the long hall. He is a long time community organizer and mentor of mine.
Lately, I have been questioning my sticking power. It has become harder and harder for me to get excited about my work here in Appalachia organizing with people in poverty. It was my single passion for many years and I stuck to it when there was no money for salary or even to keep the phone on, I was there. I was there in the middle of the night and on the weekends dragging my kids out at all hours of the day and night to help a neighbor in need. It was my life and I thrived, but it seemed that very few people here actually listened to what my friend said – that you have to stick and stay to make a change. They were there when they needed it but they were gone once their need was taken care of. Not all of them, there are a few who did stick and stay but that few including me get burnt out when we are doing all the work.
People in Appalachia have a fatalistic attitude and being from here, I completely understand it and why it exists but sometimes it makes it so hard to help my own people. There is a huge outflux of young people and I understand why. I have spent nearly 30 years here trying to make a difference and t0o often I feel like a donkey chasing a stick that the system controls. A carrot on a stick that we will never get no matter how hard we work to get it. It is just out of reach dangling on that stick right above our nose while we tread deeper and deeper into the red clay and black coal dust earth that has swallowed us up for years. The only way to escape it is to escape.
The above is my writing for Stream of Consciousness Saturday. I haven’t really written much on this blog about my work as a community organizer but as stream of consciousness writing is all about writing what pops into your head this is what I wrote. If you are interested in finding out more about my friend and mentor Willie Baptist you can check out this video my organization made.