The revolution is love – loving the community around you, building kinship, celebrating triumphs, and supporting one another through shared challenges. In order to push back against the systems that are pulling our communities down, we need to collectively uplift the voices that are not being heard, transform the root causes of pain, and provide loving care that will allow our communities to thrive. This is what Jacqueline Ramos has taught me.
Jackie, a native to San Francisco’s Mission district, has been so much more than just an educator to her students. She is a poet, public health researcher, social justice practitioner – a warrior. Jackie showed me the path of community love.
One of my favorite things about Jackie is her presence. Her smile is contagious and her words are nurturing. As a woman that is committed to the persistent struggle towards the liberation of marginalized and oppressed communities, she remains present with each person she talks to and each thing she does. Her balance is comforting and reassuring. I admire the way she remembers people and stays connected with them, creating a sense of community that lasts forever. She treats students like family, and makes people feel like they’ve known her for a lifetime, even though it may have only been for a few years. She will listen to your story and feel it with you.
I met Jackie during my sophomore year at USF in the fall of 2020. I applied to be a part of the Community Empowerment Activists course, exploring colonialism, white supremacy, and capitalism. The class was focused around ways to “build collective consciousness” and community action towards a “reimagined world of justice, equity, self determination and liberation.” Our classes coordinated with community partners, such as No More Tears, United Playaz, and South of Market Community Action Network, to learn more about their experiences combating injustice in the city. The class, and Jackie’s guidance, gave us insight on what we can do as activists to raise awareness of injustice through reflection and grassroots organizing for Black, Indigenous, low income and working-class communities.
Jackie welcomed every one of her students with open arms. Classes were led with meditations, gratitude giving, affirmations, and reflection. We learned to be activists in a community that is fighting for a reimagined just world, but we also learned to support each other alongside each of our journeys. We learned to check in with each other, listen to each other and amplify all ideas that are brought to class. No one is left behind when Jackie is around.
I was never anxious to turn in my assignments. Before and after each class, we were required to do reflections that gave us the opportunity to think about how the social justice course material connected with our own personal experiences. Jackie always left uplifting comments about our personal narratives. I knew that with true reflection and honesty, Jackie would be open to all kinds of ideas and creativity. Assignments allowed us to reflect on what we can do as community empowerment activists, as well as how our own stories connected with it. We also had the chance to transform our critical thinking through other modes like poetry and visual arts.
At the end of the school year, we had a project, “Reimagining a Just World: Pathway to Social Justice and Call to Action.” The project involved illustrating our commitment as social justice warriors through a medium of our choosing. During a one-on-one meeting with Jackie, she encouraged me to employ my love for photography in my project. Jackie had been one of the first people to make me feel like photography could be more than just a hobby. She made me feel like my art was beautiful, important, and needed. It was refreshing to be taught by someone who encouraged different forms of expression in educational spaces.
Even after finishing the Community Empowerment Activists course, Jackie has welcomed me into her spaces as family. She continues to share her light and wisdom through continuous mentoring with me and my roommates that are currently taking the course. Having Jackie Ramos as an educator has allowed me to see the potential in creating a better world for everyone around us. She gives me hope that we can make a difference to uplift our community and ourselves. Without her, I would not be as in tune with the importance of love. Love is the answer. Each one of us is love, and without one another, we cannot thrive.