What does it take to act on what you know?
« What meaningful contribution am I making in the world?»
After growing up in Australia, I came to the U.S. as an industrial design graduate with a dream to become a world famous industrial designer. I started my career at one of the best design agencies in New York, honed my skills for the next decade, collecting patents and awards until I reached a point in my career that many of us reach where I asked myself: “What meaningful contribution am I making in the world?” We really don’t need another comfort gel grip toothbrush. And on a bad day at work, I felt like all I was doing was contributing to landfill.
After moving to a predominantly Black neighborhood in Brooklyn, I listened to stories from my new neighbors of being Black in America, otherwise known as “stoop university.” I learned that the U.S. has been oppressing Black and Indigenous people for centuries and that as a white person, I benefit from this injustice in every aspect of my life.
Five years later, I started writing to Herman Wallace, Black panther and political prisoner who went on to serve 42 years in solitary confinement for a crime he didn’t commit. I learned more about freedom, justice, philosophy, love, and life from a man in a 6 x 9 ft cell, for the price of a 45 cent stamp than any Ivy league school could teach me.
I made a commitment when Herman passed away in 2013 that I would pursue justice work for the rest of my life.