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The Questions featuring Rachael Rollins

The Beautiful Resistance of Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins

Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollinsdiana levine

Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins is committed to justice.

Elected in 2018, she is the first Black woman to hold her position, and is on the short list of finalists for United States attorney for the district of Massachusetts.

Rollins doesn’t back away from fighting for the people. This is her beautiful resistance:

What does a beautiful resistance mean to you?

Resistance is not an isolated act. It’s not a black square on your Instagram feed or even a march in the streets. Resistance is a sustained fight for something more than what we’ve been told we deserve. Resistance is an unwavering fight for meaningful and lasting reform. It requires us to have a profound reckoning with our past. If we do not change what we do and how we do it, it becomes who we are.

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Black history is not just a month; Black power is not just a relic; Black girl magic is not just a trend. We helped build this country. Our blood is in its soil. Our birthright is freedom and glory. The future is in our hands and it is blindingly bright. We are the resistance. We fight not just for equality but for a recognition of our vast contributions, humanity and brilliance. Not only do Black lives matter, but Black lives make our society significantly better every single day. A beautiful resistance is the simple belief and knowledge that we as Black people are always more than enough.

The Black History I carry with me is...

The stories of Black women who came before me and the Black women who stand in solidarity with me today.

Alice Walker once wrote that “the most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Black women continually show up for this country and win, despite being overlooked, used, or pushed out. I am in awe of the Black suffragettes who fought for 19th amendment only to be left out of its protection. I am in awe of my sisters in the 1960s struggle for civil rights who fought alongside their male counterparts for a movement that continuously relegated them to the background. Black women fight not just for themselves but for their families, communities, and democracy with a steadfast focus on justice and equity.

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That is still true today. Black women are leading the fight for criminal legal reform. We are attempting to change a system that has traditionally rejected our input and devalued or ignored our stories. I stand with my sisters in justice — from St. Louis to Baltimore, Cook County to Portsmouth — to take on a system that adversely impacts people who look like us and is nearly void of any Black women in leadership positions. This is our civil rights movement and we are an integral part of this generation’s freedom fighter movement.

How are you showing up for your wellness?

If this past year has taught us anything, it is that the most precious gift we have is time, so I really try and spend it with those I love. I am affirmatively taking far more time to unplug and engage with my personal love squad - my daughter, my nieces, my Russell, my parents, my siblings and my many amazing friends. I am reading more and happily spending time being a track mom, cheering on my daughter Peyton. I’ve been admiring more of Meya’s amazing anime drawings and watching far too many of Victoria’s TikTok videos. Life is good and I am blessed.

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Why is Black joy important?

Black history is American history — both the evils and the resilience; both the resistance and the joy. Black history is more than Dr. King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Alvin Ailey, Bryan Stevenson and President Barack Obama. It is also Shirley Chisholm, Jane Bolin, Marsha P. Johnson, Ruby Bridges, Henrietta Lacks, Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler and Vice President Kamala Harris. Black history is complex and beautiful and so it demands an appreciation of the evolution and revolution of Black progress — one that recognizes the significant sins of our nation’s past and how they deeply affect many of our flawed systems in the present; and one that recognizes that the movement is vitally important, but so are the moments of Black joy.

We must embrace that Black people and Black history are not one thing. We are evolving and layered. We are parents and friends, fans and book worms, movie buffs and artists, able bodied and disabled, LGBTQ+ and cisgender. Our humanity is more than our scarring. It’s our celebrations and victories. Black history is more than a movement. It is also a series of moments of pure, unrelenting, unfiltered, Black joy.


Jeneé Osterheldt can be reached at jenee.osterheldt@globe.com and on Twitter @sincerelyjenee.