Years ago, I was part of a college summer program, and we hiked Pikes Peak. I will never forget how grueling this task was and I spent most of the hike thinking, “Hannah, what in the hell were you thinking?” I was not equipped to hike Pikes Peak. I had not trained to hike Pikes Peak. But there I was, putting one foot in front of the other, hiking up a mountain. Once I got to the top of Pikes Peak, I was elated. It seemed that I had forgotten my lungs were on fire and the soreness in my legs seemed to disappear.
Once I got to the top of the mountain, I was searching for a souvenir store that sold pins, stickers or t-shirts. I had just accomplished something amazing! It took work and effort, my body gave all it could, and there was nothing at the top of the mountain to commemorate this momentous event! Where was the damn souvenir shop? Where was the cute shirt that said, “I hiked 14,114 feet, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt?” Mind you this was before iPhones, and Instagram pictures and the only way that you know I hiked Pikes Peak is because I said I did it. PLEASE KNOW I DID IT. I really did!!! But there was nothing at the top of the mountain to validate that. No selfies. No T-shirt. So, I asked one of our instructors, “Where is the pin to commemorate this feat?” He just laughed. Not a condescending laugh. But a laugh that I now understand as a laugh that said, “Honey, you still have a lot to learn.” The only validation I would get was what I felt inside of me, that I accomplished something that I didn’t believe that I could. There was no one at the top of the mountain with marshmallows and hot cocoa. No one was waiting for me to say, “Oh wow! You did it!” No cheerleaders. No marching band. No ticker tape parade. In fact, I do not even have a Polaroid picture as a memory. The only memories I have of hiking Pikes Peak are the images in my mind. I had to be satisfied knowing that I did it. Something inside of me will always remember, “Hannah, you hiked a MOUNTAIN,” and that is beyond rewarding.
Consider fighting for justice that mountain.
Fighting for justice is you standing at the base of the mountain wondering how conquering it is possible? Still, even when you doubt it is possible, you take a step because you believe with that one step you can reach the top. And you keep walking even when your mind tells you it is impossible and your body says, “Who are you fooling?”
Still you keep walking because what you believe is more significant than what you doubt.
Because there will come a time when you are fighting for justice that there are no TV cameras. There will come a time when there will be no meetings with people of importance. There won’t be any microphones and crowds. There won’t be any catchy signs, co-opted slogans or hashtags. Fighting for justice won’t always get Instagram photos and headlines. Fighting for justice won’t always get CNN coverage and a multitude of retweets.
And then what?
Just like the instructor on the mountaintop, I laugh.
Oh, you thought because you participated in the Women’s March, everything would be okay now?
Oh, you thought no one would make fun of you when you stood up for righteousness?
Oh, you thought this would be easy, that everyone would just bend to your will?
Oh, you thought everyone would like you?
Oh, you thought you weren’t going to be harassed?
Oh, you thought you wouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable?
Oh, you thought surely everyone would see it your way?
Oh, you thought by standing with Black people there would be a trophy?
Oh, you thought there would be cookies?
Oh, my. I’m sorry. Here, there will be NO cookies. NO ONE is handing out cookies for you doing the RIGHT THING. It is almost like me handing a chocolate chip cookie to the sun and saying thank you for shining.
I am not today, tomorrow or EVER going to hand out cookies because White people see the humanity of Black people. I am not baking cookies because you have seen the light and understand Black people are oppressed in America. I am not handing out cookies because you have removed your rose-colored glasses and have decided to stand with Black people fighting for justice. I will NEVER hand out cookies because you have chosen to treat Black people like human beings worthy of freedom, equity, and righteousness.
If you need cookies, here is a recipe for sugar cookies.
2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar for decoration
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugar. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, stir into the creamed mixture until dough comes together. Roll dough into walnut sized balls and roll the balls in sugar. Place them on an unprepared cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until bottom is light brown. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.
After you bake them, please join us in the fight.