Movement Profile: Lizette Garza

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Crossroads Fund is excited to announce a new series highlighting inspiring individuals in movement work. Our first profile features the dedication of one committed community leader and volunteer, Lizette Garza.

Lizette, a Chicago native and Pilsen resident with a passion for hip-hop and youth development, currently works as a Program Specialist with After School Matters. She participated in the 2017 Giving Project and is now a member of the Communications and Fundraising Committee at Crossroads Fund.

How did you come into movement work and why do you think it is important?

Movement work was instilled in me due to my parents. I remember being young and going to my first protest with my dad, for May Day, fighting for immigrant rights. Fighting for what you believe in, taking a stance, and being very vocal was instilled early.

Moving to the suburbs at an early age and being exposed to other opportunities outside of Pilsen really opened my eyes to the reality of the world that we live in. That kind of ignited me and really got me thinking about how I can also do the work. I think that being a student of hip-hop and how it’s a form of activism has always been with me.

How is your involvement with Crossroads Fund meaningful to your commitment to racial, social, and economic justice?

It’s always been a goal of mine to help with equitable funding and that’s what I’m steering towards now. In terms of Crossroads Fund, I think it's raising awareness, especially now more than ever, to the need for the work. The Giving Project was a huge chance for me to be a part of something. I might not have tons of money or know many folks who do but still, it takes a village and it’s important to tap into resources that I might not have done before.

Overall, the Giving Project brought us together for conversations, real conversations, about the reality of the world that we live in and what we can do now to make a difference. I think that’s probably why it’s so necessary because we can, together, unite fronts and put money, resources, and time into organizations who need it. We have to fight for it. I always think about when I tell my grandkids, down the road, about what side of the fight I was on. That’s how my parents showed their commitment when I was a kid. It’s this generational thing of giving: giving your time, your money, and your resources, but also communicating why it’s important.

What is the role of young people in sustaining and imagining movements?

This is where I get all emotional. Our Chicago teens have tools, but we need to equip them with enough tools and the right tools because they are the ones leading. Sometimes, as adults, we forget that. Young people are so smart and they’re so important to have within conversations. They need a seat at the table, especially young People of Color, because they know what they’re talking about - they’ve seen and experienced it.

Young people know what they want and they know how to say it, it’s just - who is listening? That’s why, when we’re having any conversations, young people need to be present. Are we doing that? Whether you’re with an organization or within your church or building a movement, are you reflecting and seeing if young people are really a part of the conversation?

What do you think the role arts plays in social justice work?

I think various art forms bring the cultural background and roots to the forefront of taking a stance or shedding light on a specific issue. Artists are definitely at the forefront of this and they are often the ones that are the most visible with imagining new possibilities. I think that’s why art always brings these controversial topics to light. I think that’s why it is so necessary.