Busta’s Person of the Week: Miranda Jones: ‘We must move beyond the protests and rallies.’

Busta’s Person of the Week: Miranda Jones: ‘We must move beyond the protests and rallies.’
August 19
13:37 2020

By Busta Brown

If you’ve read any story about my Person of the Week, you’ll most definitely understand why I choose to have such a conversation with this phenomenal woman. We discussed the question that so many of us are wondering about and asking our leaders: What is missing in our message when we call for peace between each other in our own communities? Her reply hit the bullseye! “It’s hard to get people to be consistent in the work that I do. Folks tend to have a very short memory. If you recall after the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Black Lives was mattering all over social media. I go to social media today, you don’t see that as much. People have gone back to their day-to-day, school, work, etc. But to me it’s real, because somebody lost their life,” Miranda Jones said passionately. 

You may remember Jones when she was selected as The Chronicle’s 2019 Woman of the Year for her outstanding work standing up for social justice in Winston-Salem, and keeping the pressure on local officials to remove the Confederate statue from the corner of 4TH and Liberty in downtown. She’s also a founding member of the very well-known organization, Hate Out Of Winston, and is also a teacher at North Forsyth High School. After Miranda’s comment about social media losing its passion to get justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, I took a look for myself and she was on point. I asked, where are we missing the mark with our message to the Black community to stay consistent? She replied, “We have to keep people engaged, that we have to move beyond the protest. We have to move beyond the rally. The community must have conversations with people you may not like, so you have to respect people because you want to be heard. Respect is the only way to get people to hear you, and it’s hard getting people to do that and to stay engaged,” she said. 

I love hearing powerful women speak. I truly believe if the power were shared 50/50 between men and women, the world would be more balanced with both the tenderness and strength of Jesus. But that’s another conversation. 

I also asked Miranda: Why are we continuously missing the mark with our message of peace and non-violence in our own communities? “First we have to understand that we don’t all think alike. We don’t all have the same values and belief systems that crime is inevitable. So, we have to figure out how to have the courageous conversations that a lot of us don’t want to have. We don’t want to tell parents that you must parent your children. We don’t want to tell them you must get involved, invested and accountable. Because we know there’s going to be some offense, because they won’t be very receptive to it. We have to have those conversations about involvement that will make people uncomfortable, and then show them what involvement looks like, even if you have three jobs. They’re tired of hearing just talk; we have to show them! Let’s show them what they can do, and then equip them by way of working with them, leaning into teaching them ways that are appropriate. I tell leaders that they must find a way to reach the gang bangers as well, and that’s hard work, but it can be done. It takes a lot of research and a lot of people don’t want to do that,” she said. 

But she’s done the research, and found ways to connect with the gang members and other at-risk youth. Miranda helped them find jobs, and also taught them how to build relationships with city officials, local leaders and entrepreneurs. Her rigorous efforts in researching the root of what’s hurting our Black communities is nearly a full-time job in itself. 

When we talked about the recent and previous killings in the Black communities, her brilliance went to work. “We can’t just do marches and rallies, we got to sit down and be committed to the work that needs to be done. And also recognize as leaders, we can’t just roll up into any neighborhood with a missionary mindset and tell them to put their guns down. We can’t go into as leaders because a lot of people don’t know or respect all leaders. We’re more effective if they know who we are, so all community activists and leaders must work together,” said Miranda.  She added, “We also need to find out where our kids are getting these guns. People want to put more police in our communities, but we need to figure out where these guns are coming from as well. That’s where research comes in to play. I’m not buying the fact that its Black people bringing these guns into our neighborhoods,” Miranda said. 

She also fights for our Black children as well. She’s not afraid to confront power and ask the tough questions a lot of teachers might shy away from. Not Miranda. She will push to make sure that Black children are educated equitably. “That’s why we need to have meetings in the communities instead of the schools. If the parents won’t come to the schools, we need to go to them. I’m that kind of teacher that feels it’s my responsibility to take care of my Black students. When they come to me, I don’t say, ‘Go tell ya mama.’ I don’t have a problem advocating. I will make sure they tell me everything that happened, including what they said and did as well. Then I’m going to formulate a plan and then go speak to that teacher or administrator, and I won’t stop until I get an answer and solution. I fight for Black boys that administration wants to kick out of school, and I say ‘no’,” said Jones. 

Whether she’s fighting for children or the community, the work that Jones does is all about faith and I believe God has called her to do this work. Some people consider Miranda Jones to be a radical, but to understand this powerful sista, you have to know her background, which has molded her to be one of the bold and unwavering chosen few activists and advocates for the marginalized and oppressed. “I look back as a child growing up in the epidemic of the ‘80s, with a mother deeply addicted to crack cocaine. I faced mountains of rejections and abuse and I see now that it was God preparing me for these times. I know some people consider me to be a radical, but it’s naturally who I am. But when I tell people I recognize Jesus as Lord, they expect a very quiet person, but my Jesus was radical! So, I get it. This is what God put me on earth to do and I intend to do it.” 

Hate Out Of Winston is equally “radical.” They’re fighting to reallocate funding in Winston-Salem, fighting to get the Stand-Your-Ground law replaced, establish a database to track police misconduct, and more. They’re also working with Keyia Sampson, the widow of Julius Sampson, who was fatally shot in the parking lot of BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in Winston-Salem. “We’re going to help her push the Julius Sampson C.H.A.N.G.E Foundation by doing a service project. We’re going to bring in children that struggled with this virtual learning twice a week, between the hours of 9 a.m. until 12 noon, and work with their curriculum, as well as enrichment activities. We do a lot and plan to continue doing even more. 

“Busta, we must look at our ancestors. They were brilliant because they were thinkers.” 

My phenomenal Person of the Week is Miranda Jones. For more info about Miranda, you can follow her on social media @mirandajones. For info about Hate Out Of Winston, you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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