"You don't need to be a voice for the voiceless. Just pass the mic" Su'ad Abdul Khabeer
As a victim advocate working with immigrants affected by domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, I struggled with the title advocate. It is my belief that people are the experts of their own experience, that there are dimensions to these violations that I will never be able to fully understand because I have not lived that experience. I do not presume to speak on behalf of someone, I only seek to amplify their voice so that they are heard.
I think about all the clients I ever worked with; the look on their face when I would tell them that a system had made an arbitrary decision about their future. I remember those moments, when the immigration application is denied, when there's no rent money, when it's the end of the month and all the food stamps have run out. There are no words to comfort or reassure; no justification for the failure of systems, or the flat out indifference.
There needs to be more of us. More women at these tables. More people of color. More immigrants. More people working within the system and challenging it from the outside. More experts of adversity who have lived realities of social inequality. The world needs more of a nuanced narrative than the dominant mix-tape that has been playing for generations.
What the world needs now is more advocates, not to replace the voice of people who are marginalized but to amplify it. The world needs advocates who can speak from lived experience. And those with privilege have a responsibility to create more seats at the table. There is no such thing as being a voice FOR the voiceless, people do not lose their voice they are either silenced or heard if we are brave enough to listen.