One of the things that has come out recently is that as much as we are growing, we’re still one of the most segregated communities. It’s surprising in some ways because I don’t see that in my life. When you look at the education system and everyone in the suburbs, you do see that segregation that exists. We are economically segregated. That’s shocking and disheartening, but there’s opportunity for growth everywhere. It’s possible to make those changes. But learning that has been disappointing. How do we make that change? Recently, I visited OSU Star House, it’s like a drop in center for homeless teenagers. To see the numbers that pour into that space is overwhelming, to know that there are that many youths that live on the streets, that don’t have a place to go. Some do, but don’t want to. That’s disheartening. They’re not graduating from high school. They probably won’t go to college. Stuff like that is really tough to see. As much as Columbus is thriving.
As hard as it is to face those realities, I still feel like Columbus is one of the better places to be. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here. I would have left. There’s no reason to stay outside of the communities that you have, and my husband is here. If I didn’t believe that there was hope for change, why stay? I might as well go back to Youngstown and work in the communities there.
Everybody doesn’t believe or think the way you do. It can be a struggle sometimes. When you start dealing with people’s trauma, everybody’s not always in the space to handle it, so differences come out. You’re rubbing up against each other’s wounds. It can create some separation. I’ve definitely had those moments, especially with MarShawn McCarrel’s death. There’s been a divide because of that. It’s been an interesting space to be in. Sometimes I feel disconnected and sometimes I feel more connected than ever. I didn’t do a lot of the protesting, although I am for the movement, I wasn’t completely a part of that. Sometimes when you’re an artist and you don’t speak up for those things, it can come down on you. Because I walk this thin line of having a conservative faith, and I don’t always agree with what’s taking place in society, there can be a divide. I’ve experienced that. It doesn’t make you any less a part of the community.
We have to make people aware. Once they become aware, people open up to have those conversations. There is fear that surrounds them, but there are people here who are willing to do the work. I say that because I see it being done.
Being in seminary – the Methodist Theological School, so it’s not just a seminary where they train you to be a certain way – It’s very open ended. They would consider themselves very progressive. They are heavily involved in uplifting the LGBTQ community. Had it not been for that school and poetry, I might not have any connection with those individuals. I’ve come in contact with them and learned the things they go through. I’ve been in community with them. It means to do life with someone, and to not look at them as other. You have relationships, you become accustomed to their vulnerabilities, and they become accustomed to yours, and you have the hard and confusing conversations. I don’t think we should shy away from that stuff. But we do.