By Ronda Watson Barber
I was recently speaking with two millennial women about my advocacy and the lawsuit in federal court filed against me and OhioMBE by a disgruntled former Columbus City School employee.
Both were concerned and questioned why I speak out, particularly when it is costing me money. They commented that the legal fees I am allocating to pay for professional legal representation buy new shoes or a purse. They are right. Advocacy has its costs. I explained that we stand on strong shoulders. If not for those that have paved our present paths, where would we be? I was raised to believe it is my obligation to leave a positive footprint for others. Issues of race, class, and gender are my life work. I am not afraid. I am determined. I am steadfast that as an American citizen, the US constitution applies to Black me. Both my grandfathers and great uncle fought in WW2. As Black men, they honorably served our country. One died. They protected and defended the constitution and the United States of America. They went off to war, came home and still didn’t have full citizenship. They survived the war, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement. My son is a US Army Ranger who recently returned from deployment. He is an official badass. I have watched him take the oath to protect and defend multiple times. I well up with pride in his military service and sacrifices. This is my America too.
Advocacy is tough and costly. I have found out who my supporters are. I appreciate everyone that has contributed to the OhioMBE legal fund. Your efforts are not forgotten and mean the world to me, particularly on the rare days when I want to throw in the white flag. I know advocacy has its costs. I have been here before fighting for Black businesses. Sometimes standing alone. I will fight for my right to have an opinion and more importantly the right to express it. I am determined. I am a survivor. I speak out for others and injustices. I will not allow white privilege or entitlement to deter me. I am a formable opponent. Truth and right are on my side.
I have learned a lot about advocating. Some businesses stand with me and others ride my coattails. Some small businesses feel entitled to my efforts. Some will call and ask me for resources, introductions, etc. Those same businesses won’t purchase a $19 advertisement. Still determined, I will fight for access to contracting opportunities. I will continue to speak out for Black-owned businesses to get a piece of the government contracting pie.
My hero Harriett Tubman reminds me, ” I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” My new reaction those who take advantage of my advocacy — I refuse to assist or hang out with anyone Harriett would have shot.
Just my thoughts…rwb