I’m Stephanie Bondi and I use she and they pronouns.  I’ve been involved in Stand in for Nebraska since near its inception.  I was drawn to it because the founders believed that bringing injustice to the streets and talking back against the inhumanity we experience and see in the news.  We believe this is vital to our humanity, our communities, and necessary for change.  As a middle-upper class, cisgender white person, I haven’t always been connected to people who have been minoritized.  For much of my formative life, I have mostly lived next to and had close relationships with those who experience life much like I do. And I honestly believed that most everyone across the US had experiences like mine.

Now, I have the fortunate opportunity to be close to friends who have not grown up accustomed to the privileges I have had, and I’m learning every day of the devastating effects of current mindsets, actions, and policies in the U.S.  I’ve learned that the systems that worked for me (i.e., immigration, education, health care, criminal justice) have not provided the same benefits and security for some of my friends. 

I sometimes get overwhelmed of how much I still have to learn and sometimes I feel that the problems of inequity are too large so I’m wasting my time trying to address them.  Yet, the relationships I have developed through Stand in For Nebraska and beyond remind me that the people deserve better and there is no way but to fight.  Sometimes the fight is with our elected leaders to instruct them to center humanity, especially for the most marginalized, and sometimes the fight is against the myth I learned growing up in a society that taught me if I and others worked hard that each would get fairly what they deserved. 

Within Stand in for Nebraska I spend most of my time working with the Countering Black Oppression group supporting the work of our members.  Our goals include empowering Black people in Nebraska and addressing systems like schools and policing that are inequitable. I am proud of our partnerships with Black Clergy of Lincoln on their demands for changes in policing, with YWCA of Lincoln and City of Lincoln Libraries on a youth empowerment project called Check Out Connections, and Change Now LNK on demands for hiring a new police chief in Lincoln. In February 2021, we have had the pleasure of showering 30 Black women in Nebraska with care packages filled with beauty aids, affirming messages, and stress relief items. These women so deserved some extra recognition and love.

I hope that you can find some solidarity, enlightenment, inspiration, and friendships in SIFN like I have. Like the African proverb says, if you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.

I’ll leave you with the insightful words of Amanda Gorman, 22 year old inaugural poet, in “The Hill We Climb”.