Steps: A Reflection on Change

Shalimar Gates, our Director of Math, shared her reflections as her son took his first steps during Inauguration Day and how she sees parallels in her son’s new movements and RePublic’s movements forward. 

As I watched my son begin to take his first steps on this monumental day, my heart smiles because he has begun the transition from a baby to a toddler. I smile because I see courage arising in him as he balances on his two feet daring to take one step after another. I see him falling and refusing to stay down. I see him grabbing a hold to something to help him stand until he is able to be steady on his own. I see my son teetering right and left as he tries to move forward. I see my son’s eyes focused and looking into the direction in which he is going. I see my son doing something that he can’t even name, understand, or explain. I see my son now consciously making a choice to walk where he used to crawl. I see my son refusing to revert back to the baby stages of crawling, intrigued by this cycling of standing, stepping, falling over and over, which will eventually lead him to walking.

While watching him, tears begin to form in my eyes. I realized the natural process of learning to walk, one that can not be forced but encouraged, one that comes with months of bumps and bruises. I see something that causes a stirring up in spirit, I see a connection to my son’s growth, the growth of our network, and the growth of our nation.

I see that on this day we have taken a step, a step in learning how to walk. Today we took a step in learning how to love, a step in learning that being neutral is just as detrimental as being openly racist. We have taken a step to understand that there has to be an unwavering commitment to examine one’s self to become an antiracist committed to dismantling the systems of oppression for all. We are transitioning from just being an organization to being THE organization. The organization that puts a stake in the ground. The organization that is ready to commit to providing a quality education to an education that frees and liberates all the learners. 

On this day I smile because I see the courage in this network to say that in taking a step and stand we may lose some along the way. I see the courage in the network in understanding that the nights may be long and the work may be hard but each step is worth it. I see this network grabbing a hold to core values to stand on and to guide us in the future. I see this network being pulled from the right and the left as it tries to move forward. I see the network looking to a day when the children we serve are no longer at the bottom, counted out and or held back. This thing, this step is foreign to us, it is something that we can not describe. We are going through a process that we may not understand yet, but I encourage, I challenge us to continue to take step after another step, after another step in moving forward. When it may seem easier for us to crawl, I bid us not to.

I sent the video to my mother and while she rejoiced in the steps that my son made, without pause she  said “put some shoes on that baby feet so he will have some support.” I listened to my mother and put my baby on some shoes and I saw him moving at a steadier pace I saw his going further not without stumbles or fall but with support. 

I see the growth that we have made and I celebrate that but without pause I say “put on our walking shoes and see how far we can go when we support one another on this walk. Put on our walking shoes and see how much change we can make when we are intentional. Dare not to turn back to crawling but walk, walk in boldness, walk in authority , walk in confidence, walk in humility, walk in grace, walk in compassion, walk in truth , walk in the light, walk in faith walk walk walk for one day we will mature and be ready to run.

As he, we walk I smile with great hope and anticipation of us one day running.

Now I smile with great hope and anticipation of him, us running.

He now desires to overcome the limitations, immobility that comes with crawling but yearns for the freedom that comes with walking.