“If the time is not ripe, we have to ripen the time.”
On February 23, YWCA Lancaster had the honor of hosting “Ripening the Times”, a panel discussion featuring local Black leaders across generation, experience, and perspective to share some of talk about the past, present, and future of Black history in Lancaster County and beyond.
The result was a brilliant and engaging discussion featuring some of our community’s brightest minds and fiercest advocates for justice: Vincent Derek Smith of the African American Cultural Alliance of Lancaster, Dr. Amber Sessoms of Natural Inclination, Brian Graves of Lancaster Changemakers Collective, and Barbara Wilson of the Lancaster City Housing Authority. The discussion was moderated by our own Starleisha Gingrich!
Here are 5 quotes that stuck out to us from the more than hour long conversation. We hope you watch the entire recording below!
Click the play button next to the quote to hear audio
1) “We need to let [kids] know now that their voices are important and deserve to be heard.”
“The biggest thing for me is the voice of children we need to allow them space in these conversations, we need to allow them spaces and voices in the conversations that we’re having within our family dynamics. Because that child will one day be one of the leaders of that family, be one of the leaders of that community, be one of the leaders of whatever they decide to be a leader of. And we need to provide them with the affirmation and the validation that their voice is important now, at five years old, at ten years old, at fifteen years old, we need to let them know now that their voices are important and deserve to be heard.”
2) “Disrupt the narrative that we are just trauma.”
“I don’t get the funding because we have African American in our nameBut look at what it’s doing for the community and bringing people together and disrupting the narrative that we are just trauma, like that Black excellence and that Black joy is liberating all of us. So where are the dollars that we’re putting into people in this community who are doing that renaissance? I see it, it’s beautiful, but I’m finding that you’re not getting the money.”
-Dr. Amber Sessoms
3) “Being active in the community was something that was passed down in my blood.”
“That showed methe impact that they were providing to a community that people were living in. And what triggered me the most is, they were providing outlets in the community that they lived in…and as I grow older, we see that drugs is a trait that can pass down through generations, diabetes is a trait that can go down [through generations]. As I grew older I was like, being active in my community was something that was passed down in my blood. It might not have been what I wanted to do, but as I grew I looked back at the people and my family that have been involved in the community, being Black leaders, being role models for other Black kids and Black and brown people, now I see why I’m so passionate about it: because it affects me now.”
-Vincent Derek Smith
4) “What is the narrative that you are telling yourself that makes it okay with me to accept [racism]?”
“And stop and thinkwhen you look at that data, stop and give yourself a pause and think: what is the narrative that you are telling yourself that makes it okay with me to accept that and to move on with my life? That should keep you up at night, but you are telling yourself something that allows you to be like ‘that’s their issue’, because it’s ‘they’ vs. ‘me’. We’re all in this together so how are you looking at it, what are you telling yourself; change that narrative in your head that stops making you think ‘that is not my issue that is a Black and brown issue, it’s their fault’, uh uh. These are babies that we are harming. That destructing of our life taking off because of racism. Literally years off my life, simply because of something made up.”
-Dr. Amber Sessoms
5) “Not against you. For us.”
“It’s a new day.And people aren’t standing back. They’re coming out with what they believe, what they feel, and what they find is true. And not against anybody. It’s just for us. Not against you, but for us.”
Thank you to Brian, Dr. Sessoms, Vincent, and Barbara for being in community with us, and for sharing your brilliance with us. We’re proud to be with you on Lancaster’s journey towards a just future.
View the full recording:
Remember to register for the 2023 Race Against Racism!