(Content Warning: I’m going to be discussing the recent Pittsburgh and Kentucky shootings, which were both acts of violence carried out by white supremacists.)
The world is in chaos, and we are all just stuck in the middle of it.
October 2018 has been one of the most difficult months to get through in my life. Making it through was a blessing, but it’s been hard, to say the very least. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you. My mind has been feeding me a bunch of negative thoughts lately. A lot of those thoughts pertain to the recent shootings last week.
My heart is hurting for the lives who were lost. These recent events have taken quite a toll on my everyday life as well as the lives of millions of other people around the world.
I can’t help but think of the Jewish lives who were lost in a Shabbat service in Pittsburgh. They were just minding their business and worshipping God, and an evil, anti-Semitic individual came in and killed them. It infuriates me to think about the fact that a white supremacist murdered two black people in a parking lot because of the color of their skin. This is a rough time for a lot of people on campus, including me. There’s enough going on in my personal life for me to be stressed beyond belief, but the social climate of the world I live in today is definitely not helping.
So what can we do about it? How can change occur?
Bringing about change in the world is no easy task, but it is definitely manageable. After all, being a world changer is a part of an Obie’s DNA. We are destined to do great things to better the world, because we are extremely hard-working. Combine that with our collective intellect, and there is little that can stop us from achieving greatness. With all that being said, we have to apply this hard work and intellect to social issues that affect our world in a negative way.
There are many mediums that can be used to bring about change. Protesting is definitely an option, but there are other methods that are available as well.
There’s more to creating change than protesting the issue. As proven throughout history, protesting is an effective tool that can be used. Oberlin has a proud history of protesting, and it is worth noting that its past protests have been effective in spreading important messages. However, there’s more than one way to make a difference in this world. You could use the education you’re getting on different social issues right now and spread those ideas to your peers. Education is so valuable, especially in today’s day and age where false information can be easily spread to the masses.
It is vital to marginalized communities to have their truth spread so that more and more people are tolerant to their situations.
Getting an education doesn’t just come from listening to lectures and reading articles, either. Getting an education includes listening to the experiences that differ from yours so that you gain new and different perspectives to understand. Once you understand those perspectives, tell others about them. Tell everyone you know about what you learned and how this information can bring about change in your community if more people understood. There’s confusion on what these communities need, because the wrong information is spread by those who aren’t a part of them. False and hurtful narratives are created to diminish the severity of violent situations against members of marginalized communities. We shouldn’t tolerate these narratives. Reject those ideas and correct those who spread this false information. If those who try to spread false information mean no harm, don’t be rude to them. Kindly correct them. Trust me. Having a healthy discourse is much better and less stressful than having a full argument that drains you. College is already ridiculously stressful. There’s no need to add to it.
Social media is also effective in spreading a message to others. Sure, it can be a distraction, but it can also be a useful tool to help those who have especially been affected by the recent events.
When you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any social media app, spread the knowledge that you know. Speak up and stand with those who are members of marginalized communities. Make it clear through your social media if possible, especially if you’re on it all the time. You can invest your time and energy in goofy videos every day. You can post selfies and catchy captions to assist them. Why not invest that same time and energy in helping somebody who has a different perspective from you? Say what you want about social media, but its ability to spread information quickly is unmatched. Why do you think so many news outlets have a strong social media presence? It’s 2018, and people are adapting to the technology available to them. As someone who stands with the oppressed, it’s important to adapt as well. Use your social media presence to keep other people informed if possible. People will pay attention to it and may even interact with you as a result.
This is a time of healing for a lot of people. Treat it as such. If some of your friends need space, give them that space to clear their minds. They’re going through a lot right now. Don’t make it even harder on them.
The social climate is draining to a lot of people today. Some of them are enduring more adversity than others, so it’s essential to keep that in mind. Don’t encourage someone to talk about traumatic events if they don’t want to. I know it seems like simple advice, but you would be surprised to see how often members of marginalized communities are asked about these types of events even though they don’t want to talk about it. As a black man, I know the feeling of experiencing this. Reliving trauma is never a fun experience to deal with, and it’s not fair to those who have to do so. My advice? Don’t make people go through that. If they want to talk about it, listen to what they have to say. Give appropriate input whenever it’s necessary, but don’t force traumatic topics on people. It’s not cool to do, and it makes it seem like you’re talking about the event for your own benefit rather than the benefit of those who are personally affected by it.
Despite the recent events, I remain positive. I’m still looking forward to the future of this country. There’s definitely a lot of work to be done, but I believe in those who want to make this world a better place for marginalized communities.
It is not going to be easy to keep fighting, but it is so necessary to do so. I promise that all of your hard work will pay off in the long run if you engage in making change. It has never been easy to those who wanted to remove the disease of white supremacy from their environments. Think of all the civil rights activists who endured the hardships of this country decades ago. Many of them persevered despite the tragedies they faced on a regular basis. We are a new generation facing a very old threat that has been around since the genesis of America. The threat of white supremacy has to be eradicated, because it is hurting people every single day. It kills. It mercilessly kills. That’s why we have to be a generation of resistance. While fighting this threat, It’s okay to sit down and feel emotional about the recent events. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with crying. Embrace your emotions, because holding them in does major damage to your mental health. Do what you need to do. Then, be the world changer that Oberlin has always seen within you.
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