Concrete Steps


Prompt: After listening to Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” write about a personal or global change you want to see in the world. What are the small steps that we could take toward making that change? What would the world look like if it changed in this way?

Concrete Steps

Jen Chau

The streets of New York City
become more smoothly choreographed.
We don’t bump or push or
get into quarrels because of such small infractions worsened by ego.
We glide past one another,
light breezes, punctuated by easy smiles.
I open a door for you and you open a door for the next person.
Subway seats are offered regularly and
Sam Cooke plays on the speakers.
When the train’s doors close, no one is stuck in between.
Cars don’t honk and no one yells “F-U” from the driver’s-side open window.
Neat rows of cars slow down at yellow and calmly make their way through
intersections at green.

Life is slower because we savor the minutes and each movement.
And we work to be happy.
We practice.
There is no time for fighting, cursing, or pushing each other.
We know that it ruins the dance.
But first we have to realize that we are all in it together.
One dancer slips and we all go off course.

We join together to learn the same movements.

Jen Chau is the Founder and Executive Director of Swirl, a multiracial community committed to initiating and sustaining cross-racial, cross-cultural dialogue. She is also an independent consultant focused on supporting non-profits with their efforts around organizational development, change management, building HR processes, diversity work, and executive coaching. Jen’s perspectives on race and racism have been featured in such publications as The New York Times, USA Today, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She currently lives in New York City and writes about her experiences in activism, leadership, and life at The Time Is Always Right.

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