America — The Change We Seek

Real change happens not on Capitol Hill, but in our homes and in our hearts.

American people have been speaking out more than we have in decades about the change we seek. If we have learned anything from the past 244 years, we have learned that nothing is more powerful than what we believe.

If we don’t change what we collectively believe, the changes we make will not have a lasting effect and that which we thought we changed will manifest again — in new and often insidious ways.

Laws help. Amendments are great. The historical events that shape the evolution of equality in our nation cannot be discounted. But alone, they are only half measures. Real change requires the people.

Real change happens not only in the streets but in our own back yards.

Real change requires not only public denouncement of injustices, but it requires us to concede — to our innermost selves — that our future and the future of our children depends not simply on governmental changes but on us, and our willingness to admit that we must change too.

Real change happens not on Capitol Hill, but in our homes and in our hearts.

I hear people saying, “But, we already believe in equality, obviously. That is why we are fighting for it”.

Yes, that is what we have been fighting for all along. But we have been missing something, haven’t we?

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 guaranteed that all citizens of the United States were protected equally by the law. Yet 154 years later, our nation is filling the streets, screaming, crying, and demanding that its voice be heard — for not only are all citizens not being protected, but citizens are being viciously abused and even murdered by corrupt protectors and the perverted use of laws created to protect. 154 years have passed since we signed legislation to protect all people equally under the law. 154 years.

The Civil Rights Movement took place in the 1960s, securing the equal rights of Black Americans. We were fighting for the same equality in the 1960s as we were fighting for in 1866, 94 years prior. This is the same equality that we are fighting, for now, over 50 years later. The things we are fighting for today — the things that have burned down cities across our nation in 2020 — were signed into law over 50 years ago.

The Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963. But in 2020, the Gender Pay Gap still left women earning 81 cents for every dollar earned by men. That’s 57 years. 57 years later and men are still paid more than women by 19 percent.

We are still fighting for rights that we have been granted long ago.

Photo by Koshu Kunii on Unsplash
Why are we still fighting for rights that we have been granted, governmentally, long ago?

Belief. Not just the beliefs of the straight white male, or the perceived oppressor, either.

These are subconscious beliefs and mental constructs of the ages that we are all a part of and that are all a part of us — all of us. Even the homosexual black female.

This is a shocking answer for those of us who have spent our lives speaking out for equality — especially those who have been, in any way, oppressed or marginalized.

Of course, the oppression that we see in our country is not the fault of the oppressed. But it is everyone’s responsibility to pick up the torch of reclamation.

There are beliefs that are woven seamlessly into the fabric of our lexicon — beliefs that can survive and even thrive, without us being aware of them. These beliefs sow seeds of divisiveness among us and our fellows.

This is a hard pill to swallow for a nation of people bent on justice and equality — the fact that the very core of who we are intellectually, how we think and how we form our sentences is filled with subconscious beliefs to which we did not acquiesce. So hard to swallow in fact, that we haven’t.

Photo by Mark Rasmuson on Unsplash
Our ability to believe any thing or think any way is contingent upon the lexicon that we have been provided.

It was the great theologian, Alan Watts, who introduced this notion to Western culture — the notion that we are in many ways controlled by our lexicon. Furthermore, that our language renders us incapable of conceptualizing the ideas and thought patterns of our Eastern counterparts.

There is nothing like hearing Alan’s lectures on language and you can listen to plenty of Alan Watts lectures online, or read the transcripts of his lectures on various topics. Here are a few key points he made in his thought-provoking lectures on language.

Everybody, who speaks any language at all has, underneath the surface of the language or the figuring that he uses, certain basic assumptions that are usually unexamined, and these unexamined systems of belief are extremely powerful in their influence over our lives.

So, we populate the world with ghosts which arise out of the structure of our language, and thus, therefore of the structure of our thinking because we think in language, or in figuring, and numbers.

Alan Watts explains how people of different languages are capable and incapable of having certain ideas and thinking in certain ways, based on the “basic picture of the world” that their lexicon creates.

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“It is hard indeed to notice anything for which the languages available to us have no description.”

Because we think in words and sentences which are only available to us through language, it makes sense that — despite our unwavering efforts towards change for hundreds of years — we ‘woke up’ in 2020 as if we were surprised that we were still decades behind.

We had forgotten to change one thing; the parts of ourselves that were hidden away in the words we do and don’t have — and the sentences we can and can’t say.

The pill we cannot seem to swallow may be the missing link to real change.

We can write new laws and we can paint the street. We can change a few words in the dictionary and minimize the power of the police. We can make grand national demonstrations of our commitment towards equality, but this will not change the lives of the people.

The poem performed by Amanda Gorman at the inauguration of President Biden was a beautiful articulation of where we are, where we have been, and where we wish to go. Nearly the entire nation wept together as her words sent chills down our spines.Amanda Gorman Inauguration Poem Transcript, ‘The Hill We Climb’
At just 22 years old poet Amanda Gorman has captured the attention of Americas political stage with rhythm and rhyme…

We must not forget, however, that at that very moment of collective liberation, the underbelly of our nation was still left unscathed, unchecked, and unchanged.

As these powerful words brought tears to our eyes, the unprecedented number of black babies crying for sustenance — in excruciating pain of hunger — were not fed.

As we saw a divine glimmer in the eyes of the coldest politicians, the women — who are being preyed upon by the sexual violence that permeates the culture of our American workforce — were not magically released from their impossible situations.

As we felt collective unity in our hearts for the first time in so long, the unprecedented number of black men, whose lives have been swallowed up whole by a rigged society, were not released from prison or brought back to life.

Although these words have moved our nation, so did the words of Martin Luther King Jr in his prolific speech, ‘I Have a Dream’.

The choice we must make as a nation is whether Amanda Gorman’s moving words will become a reality or be viewed by our great-grandchildren as a far-off utopian dream — similar to the ideals of Martin Luther King Jr, whose ideals we may love but we certainly do not live.

In a majority of ways, the lives of the people cannot be changed until the world they grow up in is changes. The world the people grow up in cannot be changed without the evolution of the people who make it up. We make up their world — our world.

Change lies in all the tiny little pieces and those pieces belong to us.

Systemic change does need to happen. It is necessary. But we must not mistake our enthusiasm around systemic change for a complete willingness to change our world. The only way to change our world is to change ourselves.

This is the pill that we haven’t been willing to swallow for 12 scores and 4 years — the stark reality that the very core of who we are intellectually, is filled with subconscious beliefs to which we did not acquiesce. And if we refuse to be honest with ourselves about this reality, we will unknowingly pass on the same ghosts to our decedents that our predecessors unknowingly passed on to us.


If we truly wish to change our world and are willing to go to any lengths to do so, we must discard the crutch of complete and total blame — and replace it with the torch of reclamation.

We can make all the changes we want, governmentally. But as our own history has proven, these are only half measures until we change the crippling beliefs that are woven seamlessly into the fabric of our society.

After all, it has never worked before. Why would it now?

There are parts of all of us that are made up by the fabric of society. It is these parts of ourselves, the parts the world doesn’t see and the parts that we ignore, that we must change.

The shreds of divisiveness, that the fabric of society has placed upon our hearts, are not our fault. But they are our responsibility and it is our job to find them and eliminate them.

Real change happens not on Capitol Hill, but in our homes and in our hearts.

Written by Holly Kellums

Originally published on

Featured image by Jean-Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash

Published by hollykellums

Internationally Published Author * Influencer * Recovery Coach * Human Potential Activist

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