Views From 90 Penn: Progressive. What’s in a Word?

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By Raven Lewis

Progressive is a word that can make people think of change or the crazy lady on the insurance commercial. For me it was the later until I started to intern at the Long Island Progressive Coalition (LIPC) in Massapequa.

Prior to the start of my internship I had never realized the importance and power of the word progressive. It is ironic that I did not understand its value because I had unintentionally dedicated my life to something that I did not have a name for.

Throughout my late teen age years I always spent my summer working and volunteering. It was around the age of fourteen that I started working in lower income areas to decrease the racial tension and gang violence between the Latino and Haitian community in Nassau County. It was volunteering as a fourteen year old, African-America girl from a moderately wealthy area that gave me my first taste of social injustice. I came to realize that the media’s and societies portrayal of these youths as delinquent’s was false. These children were simply just children in need. I was confused on the feasibility that three towns over there were kids who didn’t have affordable housing or quality education. It was a revelation that placed me on the path to a ‘progressive agenda’.

In college I continued by flirtation with “progressive’ by working with Middle Earth a peer education group and SHAPE a Sexual Health and Peer Education group. In these organizations I learned how health care was not as easily available to everyone as I had originally perceived. Middle Earth exposed me to the struggles faced by those with depression, schizophrenia and other mental disorders and how our health care system is not equipped to help. The issue of health care was reinforced through SHAPE which dealt with women, young adults and those in the LGBT community who could not receive the progressive health care they needed.

Looking back it is clear what path I was going to take as a career considering all the extracurricular activities I did; but for me it was still unclear. Even after I started interning at the LIPC it still took a couple of week for me to fully grasp what progressive was and what it meant to me.

Progressive is the very definition of social movement. It is not just one agenda rather the agenda of every individual in a community. It is important to note that it is not a group agenda in which everyone agree on the same issues. It is not possible to get everyone to agree on an issue but it is possible for everyone to support the opportunity to have a voice.

LIPC showed me that I didn’t necessarily need to pick an issue rather I needed to be a voice and cheerleader for a progressive agenda. It is not just, unequal education, lack of health care or affordable housing that are the problem, rather it is the power and voice of the collective non-progressive agendas that is. Those who believe in a progressive agenda must unite to support each other’s and themselves. Committing to help other and all progressive agendas is the key to strengthen and maintaining a progressive lifestyle on Long Island. My life goal is not to have a career or position. It is to live a progressive life and always remembering that all are in need, all need help and we must work together to create a progressive future.