Who Should Really Represent You
I was teaching a class this week that discussed sexual harassment in the workplace. I finished the session by sharing that with all that’s been done to bring awareness to this problem, sexual harassment still continues at alarming rates to this day. I then advised my clients that real prevention starts through awareness, and how they should take great measure to stay informed of their rights. The class listened intently, but I couldn’t help but notice a look of surprise come across their faces, as if this was a big ask. Since I take the time to know the clients I serve well, it was obvious they were still flattered by such a request.
I received the same reply when discussing civic responsibility in another class, this time discussing financial abuse. I was updating clients on the latest local domestic violence laws that had recently passed, but shared that unfortunately, we had been receiving push back by local and federal legislators on laws covering financial abuse . So I informed my clients that they can help pass such laws by reaching out to their elected leaders. Again, I received that flattered, but incredulous look on their faces.
It’s tough for common people to accept the reality that they too can make a difference by using their voices. For the most part, most registered voters from low-income backgrounds or victims of violence are not adequately schooled on the power they possess by voting or writing in to their elected officials. It’s no surprise then that many within these populations refrain from expressing any opinion whatsoever, either by not exercising their rights to vote or by not contacting those whose job it is to pass laws that can make or break their quality of living.
Experiencing this reaction from these clients has inspired me to speak up more clearly and profoundly about civic and social justice. I make it a point to strongly remind the people I serve that they, too, can make a difference. It may seem like it’s falling on deaf ears, because who knows what challenges they face and insecurities they hide as they go about their daily lives. But this only inspires me to remind them of the power they really hold. Besides, who better to represent the people than those down in the trenches, struggling and working diligently every single day, striving for greater opportunities. It is the meek who set the best example as to what type of laws should be passed to represent the greater good. Not the rich or the educated, or anyone else with opportunities glued to their fingerprints. Not at all. It is the ones who are made to feel voiceless and under-represented who should help lead the way.