Ramelcy Uribe: Womanist. Social Activist. Game Changer
Ramelcy Uribe is committed to social justice. From her upbringing and schooling, she learned about the effects of social injustice and how others use it to assert power. She plans on using her voice to bring more awareness to the social justice movement and bring people together. Uribe is a senior at Haverford College, a predominantly white institution, and explains how her experiences have led her to create more opportunities for students of color, as she is a coordinator for an on-campus group called Womxn of Color. She also focuses on her involvement in social justice, its effect on social media, and her future goals.
Itsawritestyle: What does social justice mean to you?
Ramelcy Uribe: Social justice is really believing and asserting the truth that every person has humanity and is deserving of access to reach their full potential as thinkers, students, leaders and individuals. It is a whole, unapologetic merging of values and action grounded in love.
Itsawritestyle: How did you get involved?
Uribe: I like to think social justice has always been a part of my life. How could it not? I think coming from places where people’s voices are often ignored and our humanity is often overlooked, social justice has been woven into my experience before I could even recognize it as such. So many of the places I come from are in dire states of (monetary) poverty with huge health issues, lack of access to quality education, and so how could I stay silent when all the communities I belong to are being told we don’t matter and our humanity is worthless? From the South Bronx to the Dominican Republic, I see all the ways my communities are using and have always been about social justice to survive, resist and thrive.
The summer after my junior year, I learned about Sadie Nash, a girl’s leadership program that uses social justice education to help young womxn find their identities in larger social structures and ultimately, realize themselves and their infinite power. This program completely awakened my conscious political self, and ever since, I’ve been hungry to learn more about how to aid my community. I think a part of social justice is realizing who I am, and I’ve learned and unlearned so much about myself as a BlackLatina, working-class, bilingual womanist, who is also so much more than that.
Itsawritestyle: As a sociology major, how has this helped you understand the world more?
Uribe: Sociology has definitely given me the theoretical frameworks and modes of thinking to not only acknowledge injustices, but understand where they come from and what institutions justify and uphold them. Knowledge is most definitely power, and sociological knowledge is a type of power to look critically at injustice and when used correctly, gives us the power to mobilize intentionally.
Itsawritestyle: You consider yourself a feminist. What sparked your interest to create groups for women?
Uribe: I consider myself a womanist before anything, and then a feminist to a certain extent. Sadie Nash definitely propelled me into growing into my womonhood in a political way. I guess I always knew womxn are amazing, but through Sadie Nash and growing into myself, I learned to be unafraid in saying that I love all-womxn/all-girl spaces.
I love womxn and what they offer to the world. I love the way womxn support me and each other. I am eternally proud to have been born into and raised in an all-womxn household where my first role models were my mother and sisters. I think Sadie Nash gave me the tools to unlock the truth that the world really tries to hide from girls: that when you put a group of girls together, cattiness doesn’t have to be the only result. Greatness, growth, and sisterhood are greater possibilities.
Itsawritestyle: Are you involved in social justice organizations on your school?
Uribe: I’ve been a part of the Black Student League, the Alliance of Latin American Studies, a Diversity Task Force, and am one of the facilitators for a group called Womxn of Color.
Essentially, any initiative to make this white institution more welcoming, open and supportive of Students of Color and the plethora of experiences we have, is social justice to me. And through these organizations I have also tried to create a stronger activist culture on campus.
Itsawritestyle: With the rise of social media and its accessibility, do you view this as a positive or negative benefit in the social justice movement?
Uribe: I think people love to shit on social media, often saying that our generation only participates in “online activism” or signing a few petitions and feeling good about themselves, and while that is a part of the problem with the Internet, we DO need folks to sign petitions. That’s part of the process. But social media has also become such an amazing way for people to share and access information and most importantly, it’s been amazing platform for mobilizing. There is nothing like a Facebook event or an Instagram post to get your protest or campaign out there. I think we take for granted the power that social media truly has. We can easily look at the Arab Spring and see that social media is more than just a place for pictures of vacation and you and your bae, and even that for People of Color can be a way of healing. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are still people who deserve happiness, healthy relationship and simplicity.
Itsawritestyle: Do you believe millinneals are creating the new civil rights movement in their own way?
Uribe: I honestly do not know. I can’t imagine being the “new” anything. I think we are revolutionizing in our own way through new modes that better cater to what we are trying to do now, but of course, I think we are building on everything earlier Black and Brown activists and revolutionaries have and have not done.
Itsawritestyle: Describe the atmosphere and feeling you get protesting. There is a difference in viewing it on television and being in the midst of it.
Uribe: When I’m in a protest surrounded by Black and Brown faces, I feel LOVE. It’s crazy to think that injustices and deaths and tragedy brought us together, but essentially we are all there because we love the people that the world is telling us do not matter. That is what the Black Lives Matter Movement is. We are saying we love Black peoples and we love our Black selves. I’m not entirely sure how to think about how protests are depicted in the media, but I know in reality, I feel less afraid when I am in a protest. I feel in community and solidarity with those around me. It reminds me that folks care, and the issues we have are legitimate and worth pursuing justice for.
Itsawritestyle: How do you deal with the media reports of police brutality and images?
Uribe: I think in the recent years as a student leader, I would automatically go into facilitator mode: leading discussions, planning vigils, inviting people into a space to share. I take to Tumblr and Facebook to share my immediate thoughts, and process with my family. I also cry (A LOT). Talking to my family has been the best for me because I think before I was so busy trying to be there for everyone, I forgot to really allow myself space to heal. Now I am giving my self more time and space to breathe, cry, and process to heal.
Itsawritestyle: This is your last year at college. What lasting impression do you want to leave with the school?
Uribe: I used to want to save this school from its issues and impact it greatly, but now I just want to thrive for my self. I do not care anymore how I am remembered because I gave my all, and that was more than enough.
Itsawritestyle: What are your plans after graduation?
Uribe: I want to travel and see more of the world. I want to work with youth of color in social education and healing spaces, and anything that reminds me why Sociology degree even matters.
Itsawritestyle: Social media handles?
Itsawritestyle: Anything you want to add?
Uribe: These answers are my thoughtful, authentic truths, but they are also shifting and evolving because I am constantly growing as a thinker, intellectual, activist and person.