COMMUNITY CHECK-IN

Suzette Shaw answers: How do you bring people together in Downtown LA?

Strategies for bringing people together in Downtown are as diverse as the communities who call it home. It's why GET DOWN TOWN has been hosting Downtown Community Check-ins to bring neighbors together to hear about how community is being created here.

We asked several people who live here, sleep here, and/or actively support locals to share how they bring people together in Downtown LA and why they do it. Here's a response from Suzette Shaw, a poet, feminist, and voice for women in Skid Row.

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Suzette Shaw

Lives in Skid Row,
a poet, feminist, and voice for women
in Skid Row

Bringing together others at this time of my life journey is really about standing naked in my truth with those who embrace me and building ally kinship. After being displaced to Skid Row over six  years ago, my life truly changed. Things I could dismiss and turn a blind eye was no longer okay. Whatever had defined my existence prior was no longer part of my personal definition.

Standing naked in my truth allows me to walk towards my journey of healing and to be embraced by those who can support me in that as well as the bigger picture of what that looks like for women in general, including women here in Skid Row. I believe this #MeToo Movement as well as the Black Lives Matter Movement are literally paradigm shifts to begin the conversations of healing about getting it right. People of all ethnic backgrounds and socio-economic levels have to be willing to invest in what life should look like not just for them but for the greater good of humanity.

The pervasive, in-your-face treatment of not accepting those with less than as your neighbor but treating them as a "NIMBY" (not in my backyard) is not gonna move the dial forward. All the fancy degrees and ivy league schooling will not teach you the compassion in your heart to see people as simply people.

We have to stop the pathologizing that which has kept marginalized demographics right where they are, while also blaming them for not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. This is not a "them / they" problem. It's incumbent upon all of us to build a bridge rather than a wall. It's time to tear down these damn walls of privilege. It's time to make room at these privileged high tables. And if you're not ready to make the room than I'm ready to bring my folding chair! #truth!