LES Community Heroes Jasmine Corchado, Andy Fontanez, Sabura Rashid, K Webster
Special Award for efforts to support those seeking asylum: Artists Athletes Activists, Lilah Mejia, Camille Napoleon
Text of K’s Acceptance Talk:
I like these awards. I like honoring local people – each offering a version of not giving up, of how they figured out to stand with others. Stepping in, even if they can’t always win, they’re still willing to try.
Like Debra – who fights for the right to an educational system that everyone could trust in.
Like Ryan – who knows that art and artists are essential, and creates possibilities.
Like Kim Fong who built a diverse and compassionate staff to care for her seniors.
Like my brother Paul, who intervened when racism or sexism played out on the construction site.
Like my mom who after my dad’s heart attack went to work nights taking an hour-long bus ride to a production-line job with men who didn’t want her there, but because she decided to win them over – they became her fiercest allies.
Like Sgt Prado from our community policing unit who tried desperately to save a young women’s life, but couldn’t, and didn’t try to hide his grief.
Like Marvin and other young men that Bob Humber ‘takes under his wing’ who have no housing, but have a home with him. Each choosing the other.
Like my ‘now’ family: all brilliant, good men: Steve, Lee, and Adam.
Like my friend and comrade Azi Khalili whose bravery, smarts and love extend over a large part of the world, literally saving lives.
Like all of us who try, in Alice Walker’s words, to add our own ‘small stones to the pile’.
Like anyone who dares to get up again after all the ‘tries’ that didn’t work.
I try not to second-guess how we’ve survive our lives, but also try not to assume that any survival strategy determines our lives forever. And to remember that oppressive systems pit everyone against everyone on every possible difference. But that we don’t have to accept that.
To me, a hero is someone who understand that sometimes the bravest thing we can do is to show vulnerability or listen or wait or risk a mistake. And sometimes these are the only things that save lives in a tough, but very beautiful, vast world filled with all the rest of us, heroes all, who are trying too.
Thank you. And “you’re welcome”.