NC Momsrising was one of two grassroots organizations honored at the North Carolina Justice Center’s 16th annual Defenders of Justice (DOJ) awards.
Defender of Justice? Phone booth? Cape? We do have matching shirts.
The official definition, however:
Defenders of Justice (DOJ) Awards are given by the Justice Center to honor individuals or organizations who are making significant contributions in the following areas: Litigation; Research and Policy Development; Public Policy Advocacy and Grassroots Empowerment/Community Capacity Building.
Maintaining a forward momentum for social change feels like pushing a very large boulder up an even larger mountain. Nationally, American citizens struggle through congressional battles that fall along party lines with most of the shrapnel hitting everywhere but DC. The addition of localized political wars serve to further disenfranchise state citizens.
North Carolina’s “In The Name of Regression” legislative practices makes it difficult to maintain my citizen due diligence. You see, it hurts my logic receptors to hear how the state doesn’t have any money to increase teacher pay followed by a bill that suggests we should scrap the Common Core curriculum and, you know, write our own! The 400 million dollars worth of federal grant money we might lose? Well.
As I said, being an advocate can feel demoralizing. Or hearing an elected official (hiya, Thom Goolsby) demonstrate their professionalism by referring to participants in constitutionally-protected free speech as “morons” and “loonies”.
It’s enough to make a girl want to check out of the political game entirely, choosing instead to stay home watching baby hedgehog videos.
Then you go to something like this; you sit in a room full of NC citizens that continue to check in– loudly– every day. I found myself remembering how I felt after marching at HKonJ. Listening to how these groups started, not with million dollar political fundraisers, but seeded at kitchen table conversations, or behind fast food counters; concerned voters that continue to push back against policies that roll NC backward.
At some point during the ceremony I got something in my eye. A piece of dust, or a microscopic knife-wielding GOP ninja– something. Whatever the object, it was small enough that the ophthalmologist didn’t find it the next morning. Yet despite that, this tiny bit of dust (or ninja) managed to shallowly scrape most of my right cornea. No pain medicine available beyond standard ibuprofen and the advice to “keep my eye closed as much as possible”. After a couple of days of eye-patched insanity, forcing me to reschedule most of my plans for the week, the wound healing progressed from generalized pain to the itch of a thousand mosquito bites.
True healing involves an exponential increase in overall discomfort.
What I relearned from the unlikely source of my scratched cornea is that sometimes the tiniest presence can be strong enough to ruin an entire agenda.
NC social advocates aren’t exactly tiny, and their collective eyes remain focused on healing.
If you’d like to see more pictures of other Defender’s of Justice, please check out the North Carolina Justice Center’s photo stream of the event.