Ibelieve in asking three questions before moving forward: What do I want? Why do I want it? And how do I get it? My primary goal is to eradicate poverty; I believe it is immoral and a stain on our society. And so when I despair or get angry, I take the time to think about how I can best achieve that goal—and then I get to work.
As a writer and former elected official, I believe in the power of words. We must use words to uplift and include. We can use our words to fight back against oppression and hate. But we must also channel our words into action. We must lobby our leaders, cast our ballots and advocate for real change in 2019.
Discriminatory legislation emboldens those who seek to make us afraid, while giving those communities it hurts a concrete reason to fear. We must stay away from anti-immigrant legislation, as well as so-called religious freedom legislation that harms our LGBTQ communities. Inaction discriminates too. In Georgia, our refusal to expand Medicaid has caused undue harm to our rural Georgians, people of color and women.
Too often, our fear is sowed from an idea that our diversity is a weapon or a weakness. We must instead realize that our diversity is our strength; it allows America to be the rich and enterprising nation we are.
When speaking to someone who is afraid, try to find common ground on which you can build hope. As Democratic leader of Georgia’s General Assembly, I worked with the Tea Party on environmental legislation—so I know you can find common ground with anyone.