Of solidarity, sisterhood and new hope

One afternoon as I was lazily browsing Facebook I came across an event: The SAHYU SOUTHERN SOCIAL JUSTICE SUMMIT. Having recently moved to Houston and not knowing anyone yet, I was really excited at the possibility of meeting cool like-minded people. And boy was I right! Three days, twenty incredible sessions to choose from, the summit brought together Southern folks and feminists from all over Houston to discuss everything from how to use research in social justice work to how to dismantle toxic masculinity with the South Asian community. There were empowering sessions on body positivity and healthy sexuality, and moments of reckoning when we talked about mental health and (the still existing) stigma of mental health in the South Asian community. We talked about colorism in the South Asian community, and ironically enough, why color is one of the reasons that reproductive justice is a South Asian issue too. While I was shocked to learn more about some of the archaic state laws in Texas that further stigmatize abortion and aim to control certain bodies more than others, at the same time, I was inspired by the passion and courage of the many (mostly South Asian) people in the room working to make change for the better. 

Three days of having thought and heart provoking discussions, making new friends and eating samosas with chai, while attending the summit was for me like a breath of fresh air. It reminded me of the importance of having a strong, badass feminist community for support and solidarity in today’s time. The SAYHU summit brought together a group that cares about social justice and that supports each other. The summit served as a welcoming, non-judgmental space for expression for folks of different races, ages, and genders, who related to each other and the world in diverse ways and were able to bring their varied intersections of experience to the table and be vulnerable and thereby learn from the other. Such physical spaces are invaluable in today’s ‘black and white’ ‘comment warfare’ world of online conversations, not only do they show us that we are not fighting alone but also make us more likely to take into account another perspective when that ‘other’ likes samosas as much as you do. This is what moved me most, by making conscious room for vulnerability, the SAYHU community kicks in the door to connection wide open. Despite being a stranger to almost everyone in the room, being in this space gave me a sense of belonging. Knowing that there are incredible people in this new place of Houston Texas that I now call home, working, fighting, striving to create a better world gives me hope. And hey, when I feel hope, I’m sticking.

Evan ONeil