We Are the Ones (WATO) is a coalition of young people striving to create positive social change in communities of color. We are committed to promoting excellence for young people in the urban neighborhoods of Boston by advocating for the eradication of anything that threatens their ability to achieve that excellence. "We cannot wait on our Martin. We cannot wait on our Malcolm. We are the ones we have been waiting for," reads our slogan. WATO is not waiting for change in the community, we are bound and determined to be the change.
We are teachers, students, entrepreneurs, blacktivists, artists, bloggers and community organizers who are providing resources, educating and, ultimately, tapping into the success of young people. WATO serves as a "for the youth, by the youth," initiative to get young people fired up about social change.
WATO realized that many young people were not concerned about what transpired in the nation regarding the injustice against black people.
WATO member, Rachael Robinson, says:
WATO focuses on young people because the issues of today affect them tremendously. They need to know that we're here as a resource. They are being left out of the change, but we're trying to combat that by continuously reaching out to them. By showing our faces in the community and meeting them at their schools, we let them know that we're here and that they can and should be involved in making social change. No one else is going to do it for us. We are the ones.
On December 4, 2014, We Are the Ones organized a citywide protest (#EnoughisEnough) that drew more than 10,000 people of all ages from the Boston Area in response to the non-indictment of a NYPD officer for killing Eric Garner, an unarmed man. We wanted to inspire the city of Boston and to lead whatever the people wanted to do in that moment. WATO generated their cities' potential to be at the forefront of the movement by not only saying "Black Lives Matter," but by showing it in a visual way. WATO hosted the protest, but collaborated with many organizations such as Black Lives Matter (Boston Chapter), the Boston NAACP, Intelligent Mischief and the Service Employees International Union. "It was an organic protest. It was a direct reaction of the people of Boston to a great injustice," says Renee Omolade, co-founder of WATO.
WATO believes community collaboration is integral to resolving social justice issues in communities of color. "As we begin to work towards freedom on massive levels across this nation, it is imperative that we collaborate with each other in order to achieve our goal," said Omolade.
WATO agrees with the sentiments of Ferguson Action that:
We are decentralized, but coordinated. Most importantly, we are organized. Yet, we are likely not respectable Negroes. We stand beside each other, not in front of one another. We do not cast any one of ours to the side in order to gain proximity to perceived power.
"My goals are no more important than yours, my fight is no stronger than my brothers'," said Omolade. "There is no way we can achieve anything without each other."
WATO beckons upon our community to work hand-in-hand in order to combat the collective movement being infiltrated. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was fractured by COINTELPRO because people began to focus on themselves. They forgot about the true mission of the work. "We do not believe in the divide and conquer mentality; we believe in justice for ALL, and we are here to stay," said WATO member, Jasmine Griffin.
In a recent interview with Boston radio personality, Tayla Andre, from Big City 101.3FM, Jasmine explained how We Are the Ones is not an exclusive group or movement.
Anybody can be the one. Everyone has a leader inside of them. It's all about how they bring it out. You don't need confirmation or an application. If you genuinely want to combat the detrimental things that poses a threat to the survival and overall success of your community, then you are the one!
WATO stresses the pronoun "WE." We encourage all sisters and brothers in the struggle to find their passion, and use it to create positive change, because the goal of a true leader is to create more leaders.
We Are The Ones members are also leaders in many projects, organizations and schools, including Tech Boston Academy, Bigger Than My Block and the Youth Advisory Council of the Lewis Family Foundation, University of Massachusetts Hip Hop Initiative and HerStory, Emmanuel College Black Student Union, Blacktivism at Simmons College and the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston.
As We Are the Ones prepares for upcoming events for Black History Month, we are excited to be working on a documentary to record our own history. "We are excited to capture our work with young people as well as highlighting promising youth," said WATO member, Cherrelle Tillery.
We Are the Ones will also be debriefing the Young, Gifted and Black Conference at Smith College where Angela Davis will be the keynote speaker.
To stay updated with We Are the Ones visit: our FaceBook page.