HRC Blog

Finding My Voice While Fighting for Workplace Opportunity

Post submitted by Melissa Watson, volunteer with Americans for Workplace Opportunity

Jumping into work as a community organizer and volunteer with Americans for Workplace Opportunity to get the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed has been a humbling pleasure. It has also been the most personally challenging endeavor I’ve taken on in a long time. Many intense moments, many rewarding moments, a handful of missteps and lessons learned. And we’re not done yet.
 
One of the first and thus biggest challenges for me was being present and walking into my first committee meeting. There is a lot of self-doubt, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of success, and other self-constructed barriers to overcome between observing and doing.  I remember thinking that I didn’t want my story to be a narrative of strung together observations; I wanted a narrative of action.

I realized at this meeting that I was going to work with a new, diverse group of people. That can be kind of scary at first, but as conversation grows, fear fades. Diversity is so necessary in organizing. And everyone has their own brilliance and passion to share to bring us toward the combined end goal. It takes working in groups like this to remember the importance of diversity and seeking connections with new people in your personal and professional life in order to grow.

While canvassing for the first time, I needed to find the value in my voice, and to realize that I have the right to project that voice for something that is important to me. I had to think about why passing ENDA is important to me and remember that just speaking passionately to people who aren’t supportive might help them to be more open to progress in the future. It takes the pressure off, knowing that your presence is the important part.

Putting your effort and your hopes into a campaign is not easy. By taking the first step toward action, working openly and honestly with others, and putting value in your own voice and the goal of the campaign, you can impact your community.  Amidst this adversity and growth, there is the thanks of the community, the tiny victories of getting one person to write a letter, and the big victory of reaching the goal.

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