“You can jail a revolutionary, but you can’t jail the revolution.” — Huey P. Newton

My mother gave birth to a revolutionary. Over the past few years, my personal progression and spiritual journey have afforded me a more developed perspective on racial disparities, discrimination, police brutality, human rights and equality. I want to be as transparent as possible as to who I am, what I believe in, and what I stand for. It’s to be said, "if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything."

Katima Smith-Willis

Katima Smith-Willis

I’ve come to understand that there is a stigma against young people standing for progressive causes in this community. But it wasn’t that long ago, merely 14 months to be exact, that more than 4,000 people from in and around Frankfort came together to march against institutional racism.

I was proud to be an organizer of that event, and I was proud of our community for coming together. I’m prouder, however, of how we worked with members of the community (including law enforcement) to ensure there wasn’t a single incident of lawlessness associated with the march. I know it’s possible to make good trouble, because I’ve seen it firsthand.

I want to add for the record that I am not anti-police, despite claims to contrary. I know for certain that there are genuinely good police officers here in Frankfort and Franklin County — some of whom I know personally.

I stand firm in my conviction, however, that more must be done to reform the methods in which police officers interact with members of their community, specifically people of color. I also believe that even though it may just be “a few bad apples,” that are making most of the mistakes, the good cops that constitute much of the police force can and must do more to root out the causes of racial disparities in police contacts.

I want to be able to be the voice for the voiceless in our community. The mission of our Human Rights Commission clearly states “promote mutual understand and respect among ALL groups, and endeavor to eliminate discrimination against and antagonism between groups and their members.”

I believe that instances of injustice can and must be met head-on. I believe that when individuals continue to stay tone deaf, the problems will persist. I will never stop fighting for what we the people (including the black community) are owed by our elected officials, and local law enforcement.

We have quite a few genuine, down to earth police officers in our hometown. I speak to them. We have conversations. We respect each other. We can have our own personal opinions, but that does not take away my humanity, even when decency is not afforded to me, or people that look like me.

I want to continue to be a part of the solution, and sometimes that will mean speaking truth to power. Despite what some may or may not believe about me personally, my problem isn’t with authority. My problem is with abuse of authority, my problem is with lack of accountability.

As a member of the HRC, that is exactly my fight and my calling. I very much look forward to working with city officials here in Frankfort to provide a voice for the marginalized, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow in service to others. No taming needs to be done — I am not an animal. There is, however, always room for growth. 

“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s law is wrong it learned to walk without having feet. Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that from concrete when no one else ever cared.” — Tupac

My mother gave birth to a revolutionary. You cannot tame me, you cannot break me and you cannot silence me. I appreciate the community for always listening, the HRC welcoming me with open arms and the city officials who believe in me. I’m just that rose trying to prove nature’s law wrong.

Katima Smith-Willis was born and raised in Frankfort. She is a founder of the For the People Coalition and a full-time student. She can be emailed at katima.mcmillan@outlook.com.

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