I have never been much of an activist.
I stay away from public action. I don’t attend protests. I don’t publically speak on issues. I think it’s my introverted side coming out.
But I am a writer. I like one-on-one conversations. My activism is shown more through my conversations surrounding injustice, both in-person and through written word, than anything else.
Throughout college, I was conflicted about this. I felt like the only way I could be an ally or influence change was to be physically present, something I shy away from because of my personality and comfort-level. If you’re an introvert, you get me.
But I’m learning that I can be an ally and advocate through writing. I’m thankful that my current job allows me to immensely learn about issues communities face and encourages open dialogue about diversity, equity and inclusion.
Hearing about the recent events at Mizzou hurts my heart. And with my new-found voice, it’s time I use it.
I vividly remember the divisiveness of last fall, ONE year ago. A few friends and I attended one of the prayer circles at the hunger strike campsite. It was such a beautiful experience. There were students of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, gender, religions, coming together to learn and heal and create change. Maybe it’s the optimistic side of me, but I was deeply moved and felt like our campus could change.
Obviously, I was wrong.
Being a white girl from an affluent Chicago suburb, I have a lot of privilege. I know reading that word, you might get defensive, but let me remind you that privilege isn’t a BAD thing. It’s just there. The effects, consequences and actions of privilege are what can be detrimental.
In your life, you have still experienced oppression in some ways even if your identity is covered in privilege. This seems like a heavy word, but it’s a heavy topic. My privilege comes from my religion, race, socioeconomic background, among other things. My oppression comes from my gender.
To relate to people who don’t hold the same privileges as me, I can reach into my own experiences to start a conversation. I’m not saying different oppressions are same thing or that there is a hierarchy, all I’m saying is you can use a shared feeling to better understand someone’s lived experiences.
I, like many people who share my privileges, sometimes feel apathy towards the news of violence against people of color. My heart hurts when I hear the news, but I don’t take action besides maybe share an article on Facebook, which really isn’t meaningful. I know that’s horrible thing to say. But it’s the truth and I’m being real.
However, I get riled up when I hear about violence against women. I write about it and am pretty vocal. This is part of being human, relating to people who share our oppressions.
But what if we listened to one another and realized that while different in nature, we can unite and share in similar (yet different) experiences. Difference should be seen as difference, not as a negative thing.
I’m simplifying a very complex situation. I’m not offering solutions on how to solve systemic oppression. I’m not even bringing into the equation intersectionality. But that is not the point of this post.
I’m just saying we need to LISTEN to each other, first. When you open your ears, your hearts soon follow, and this ultimately inspires action. You learn to relate to people who are different than you and you can feel their pain, too.
So please, listen up. We need to change.