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Dreaming in the Face of Racism and Fear

Posted on 14/07/2016

Recently, a woman named Lia Washington reached out to me via email as as fellow writer and mentor for young adults. Lia is the founder of Launch Young Adults, a nonprofit organization that mentors ambitious teens and young adults in the US.

Lia Washington

In this guest post Lia speaks movingly about how hard it can be to dream in the face of racism and fear. I know this topic is at the forefront of many people’s minds right now – both in America and the UK, and indeed globally. Whenever I ask young adults to tell me about their dreams for the world, the vast majority say they dream of an end to prejudice and hate. Here Lia talks about her recent struggle to keep that dream alive and what we can all do to see Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of equality finally realised. Over to Lia…

We learned his name in childhood.

We heard his speech as teens.

As adults, we understand the magnitude of the dream.

The stated dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were many. His most well known dream was that one day, his children would be able to live in a nation where they were judged by the content of their character, and not the colour of their skin. That was 53 years ago. His dream, that the creed of all men being created equal would be the foundation on which justice stood, has yet to be realized. The reality of the black experience in America is this: Same Rights, Different Freedoms.

This has been a very tough few days as a writer, as a mentor, as a black American, and as a dreamer. It has been difficult to hold onto my ‘why’, and to write content that teaches and motivates young dreamers, when their reality is a nightmare. I’ve never been anything other than black, so it’s a posture I’m used to, but a weight that never abates. Waking up to new, old news comes with the emotion of fear, the thought of, what if someone I know is next, what if I’m next, and a physical pressure on my chest that makes taking a breath big enough to fill my lungs, feel impossible.

It’s hard to dream at times like these. Actually, it’s harder to be awake at times like these. This week I vacillated between thinking, what’s the use and this is why you must continue. For two days the former thought won me over as my hurt heart, confused mind, and the feeling of helplessness numbed me.

I have returned to feeling, I have brought my anger and fear under submission to rational thought and informed action, and in doing so, a new dream has surfaced.

My work is in service of the ambitious young adults who desire to live up to their potential and to put great work into the world.

Now more than ever, you, the dreamers, need me, and I you; we need each other.

I dream of a peaceful world.

I aspire to be part of the change I want to see in the world.

I long to see young adults grow up in a world where the fear that can arise when encountering someone different is overshadowed by a deep, resounding love for all mankind.

I promise to continue to write and work for you so that my dreams, your dreams, and those of Dr. King’s may be actualized.

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” –Edward Everett Hale

What can you do?

Speak up; do not allow fear to silence you.

Speak out; use your platform, whether it’s big enough for just your two feet to stand on or expansive enough to hold up many. Do not shy away just because you think your doesn’t voice matter.

Take action; in the UK, US, and elsewhere, use the power you have as a citizen to advocate.

Engage with people you wouldn’t normally befriend. Do not cower from those with an opposing opinions; education can be obtained in the respectful debate.

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Find out more

You can find out more about Lia Washington and the great work she does with Launch Young Adults here. Lia is currently finishing her first manuscript, a self-help book that teaches young adults the things they don’t teach in school, but require one to know in real life.

Get in touch

If you’re a young adult who’s experienced racism and you’d like to write a guest post or poem for this site about your experience and your dreams for a world free from prejudice and hate I’d love to hear from you. Email me at: