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Conscience Magazine

Faith, Hope and Making a Failed System Work for All

By Oriaku Njoku May 6, 2021

I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THE flood of emotions and questions I had reading the title of Pearl Ricks’ piece, “Making a Failed System Work.” As a Black, queer, Nigerian American, unapologetically fat femme working in an Abortion Fund in the South, I asked myself, “Why would I want to make a failed system work when the systems that are currently in place were never intended for people like me to thrive?” I also asked, “Why do I vote every year when legislators in my state and region have proven time and time again that my vote, my life, my health don’t matter?”

Then, I read the piece. One thing that really resonated was when they said, “by faith.” Sitting with that, I thought about the work our BIPOC ancestors have done with the faith so that future generations will not have to endure the harm, suffering and oppression used to keep them from thriving. I felt called to look up the difference between faith and hope. “Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing or a belief not based on proof and Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation or desire,” Sharon Blake wrote in 2017. “Faith says it is so now, and hope says in the future it could happen.”

We vote because we have faith that collective power for systemic change can be harnessed and we hope that by voting we are moving steps closer to an equitable world. We vote because we have faith that current conditions will change, and we hope that a future where all our material conditions are being met will be realized. We vote because we deserve to self-determine what is best for ourselves and our families and have hope that doing so will get us closer to a world where reproductive justice is a reality. We vote out of faith that the folks we put into office will have our best interests at heart, while hoping they vote in a way that ensures we take strides towards collective liberation.

In Georgia this year, faith turned us into a blue state. Faith allowed us to elect two pro-choice senators and bring balance in the Senate. Yet, we know that the work does not stop there. We cannot put all our faith in politicians and expect our hopes and dreams to come true. Through choice, we are in control of our destinies. The choices we make in this world are not on a binary spectrum that says you can choose or not choose. Race, gender, class, economy, environment— these and so many other factors come into play when making decisions, especially for the folks we support in choosing abortions.

This piece illustrated that while we have faith, there is a future beyond Roe that invites us to truly have control over our lives. Voting is not the end; it’s more like the off-ramp to liberation. The end of Ricks’ piece was the reminder that I needed: “We have always been our own liberation, and we will continue to be.”

Oriaku Njoku

A founding member of ARC-Southeast, a reproductive justice organization helping individuals access reproductive care in the South.