One of my mentors and political godfather was the great Carl Sharif.
We lost the great Carl over five years ago. There are two Carl Sharif’s I remember.
I remember the strong South Ward political kingmaker whose fingerprints were involved in almost every political and community-related issue in our City.
The other Carl was a far different version of himself. In his last remaining years, he was a man who was ill and lived the best he could while he was dying, constantly reminding all of us about our ultimate fate and what will we do with our time on this earth? Carl was frail but remained strong. I would often hug him close to feel the pain and suffering he endured through several surgeries. And while the large gatherings at his office home were no more, those of us who remained loyal and visited him in those final years received some of the best counsel he had ever provided.
While I might have envied and respected the Kingmaker, I learned so much about Carl the man and myself in those final years of his life – and I am grateful to God for allowing us to have that time.
Two things Carl would say to me during these talks was this – “YOU DON’T NEED PERMISSION TO DO ANYTHING. SYDNEY, YOU HAVE WAY MORE POTENTIAL THAN YOU DO POWER.
These words mattered to me from the moment he first said them – and they counted more as he would repeat them many times in our sessions together.
I did not know this at the time, but Carl even started a blog based on those words – www.carlsharif.com.
I get what he was saying to me. We continue to live in a city of haves and have-nots. There are the powerful. The ones making the decisions. The one influencing the actions of all the rest.
Carl was there to remind me that I did not need others permissions to do what I wanted to help my people, or anyone else for that matter. That I was not put on this earth to play the game and do what I was told. No, Carl instead challenged me to go with my gut and not be afraid to speak my mind. Most of all, never accept the status quo – not for acceptance, not for power, and not for money.
Now I am now going to remind you that You Don’t Need Permission – and WE DON’T NEED PERMISSION.
Some of my stances on issues, my decision to call out injustice, speak my mind, have bothered people in this City. These are the people who call the shots, who don’t like to be challenged, who demand all of us march in line.
That was not what Carl was about – and that is not what I am about.
As some of you know, I recently took Carl’s words and started a podcast. I am really happy with it so far and would ask you all to please check it out.
Through my writing and podcast I am making a case for action. I am making a case for higher expectations. And I am making a case for justice. We do not need to accept things as they are. We do not need permission to disagree with our Mayor or our Superintendent.
If we are drinking poisoned water, we have every right to demand better.
If our kids are not getting a strong public education, we have every right to demand better.
If our communities cannot access capital, we have every right to demand better.
And WE DO NOT NEED PERMISSION.
Our country was founded on the backs of slaves. You know I am right.
For this reason, it does not shock me that we are still reminding people that WE DO NOT NEED PERMISSION.