On Advocating For Others
I began working on Leadership Development through the Study of The Ancient World and Modern World On Advocating For Others on Sunday October third at 1pm and these were my responses.
When I take a look back at my youth and think about the first time that I can recall speaking up about a problem which really bothered me, I would have to say it is when I was in ninth grade. To show why I was so consumed with this issue I would have to explain my past. From the third grade up into the eighth grade I attended a charter school, Riverton Street Charter School to be exact. This school was new and had just opened and my grade was the highest level. Which meant every year that I was promoted, the school moved up a grade . My classmates and I were the first graduating class and we grew with each other. All throughout the year since the population was small , and only about 60 scholars a grade , everyone knew everyone. My friends and I were considered the popular kids and at the time I held that title on a high pedestal. We would make friends but also talk about and tease people that we thought of as weird. When I talk about this now I get so mad , but the universe definitely does work in mysterious ways. When I was a senior in the eighth grade roles were reversed. My so-called best friends that I knew and loved since the third grade, switched up and started treating me like an outcast. I was cyber bullied as well as bullied in school which resulted in me resenting school. I would literally cry when I was dropped off in the mornings and ate my lunch in any small place I could find. In the bathroom, the printer room, the staircase, literally anywhere besides the lunchroom. I then started to communicate with the very same kids I bullied and that’s when I learned that just because someone does not look like you does not make you better than them. This has been a lesson I’ve held onto since the eighth grade and I live by that motto now. So when I started ninth grade and I saw upperclassman teasing freshmen that didn’t wear designer clothes and sneakers I spoke up. This was the first time that I can recall speaking up about a problem that really bothered me and although I could have stayed a bystander and watched them get bullied, I really couldn’t. I know how that felt and I could not just watch and not do anything. Surprisingly, that gained me respect not only with the students but teachers as well. Of course I also received hate and drama but nothing I couldn’t handle. Highschool for me was a fresh start but I also vowed to myself to change. I could have easily become one of the “cool kids” again but to me that does not make you cool.
Another moment in my highschool years where I spoke up about an issue that not only affected me but my friends as well is when I spoke up about the unfair treatment that we were receiving . I went to a predominately white and Jewish high school who was made up of only 9% of African-American students. I specifically remember feeling like my voice did not matter because of the color of my skin and the texture of my hair. There was a time when I wanted to start a dance team because of my passion for dance plus, my school did not have any teams or clubs that “my people “ would be interested in . We had a bowling team , lacrosse , soccer , volleyball , but no football. Which meant no homecoming , pep rallies or anything which really disappointed me. I guess I had like this high school musical idea of what high school would be and it was not like that at all. But instead of dread the next four years of my high school experience I decided to try and make something that my friends and I would enjoy. The teachers made it seem as though it was a piece of cake to make a new club as long as you had a few members , a teacher that would facilitate , and a positive reason for having this club. So that’s what I did and was denied. They came up with every excuse in the book which made absolutely no sense. So as a black community , my friends and I fought for our voices to be heard and a vote that matters . We made petitions , received hundreds of signatures, support from our parents and teachers , and finally we were approved . I started the BSU club which stands for black student union. This is where I would say 6% of the African-American students at my school came together and came up with solutions to the racial issues we were dealing with at school.
Now the most recent time where I spoke up about an issue that greatly impacted not only myself but the black community as a whole is through the Black Lives Matter Movement. The black lives matter movement has been going on for years but there was a spike of activity after we got tired of police officers killing our brothers and sisters. Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, Aura Rosser, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Philando Castille, just to name a few . There have been thousands of deaths due to the use of lethal force by law enforcement and we were tired of it. I did my part as an African-American young woman and someone who has two black brothers. I’ve marched, spread the message on every last one of my social media platforms, signed petitions, and I’ve donated money towards the cause. There were a few times where I would post messages about the black lives matter movement and uneducated people would comment ignorance under my post , but it’s my responsibility to educate them.
As I was reading “The Normal Heart” by Larry Kramers, I noticed a lot of similar characteristics that I shared with the main character and protagonist, Ned Weeks. But before we talk about me, lets talk about Ned’s character traits. Some character traits that I believe got in the way of Ned Weeks being an effective advocate for the needs of others are as follows . Ned does not always seem to care about the feelings of others especially when he feels that he is right. He also does not seem to be very aware of how he comes across to other people and expects too much of himself. I too have similar flaws as Ned when it comes to behavior traits. I often am extremely hard on myself when it comes to things and I can often be blunt when it comes to things that I am passionate about. These are two traits that I am definitely working on and I am constantly taking criticism and critiques from the ones around me. Their observations and comments really do help me, because sometimes you can not see your wrong doings.
We were also asked to reflect on our character and answer a few questions and this was my reponse. In my opinion, each and every last one of these statements are true about my character. I generally have a better sense of right and wrong than those around me , I am generally more willing to stand up and fight for what’s right than those around me and I am as critical of others as I am of myself.
Lastly, I was asked to talk about an issue or idea that greatly impacts me and how I have advocated for this issue so far. How did you come to care about these issues? Do you feel satisfied in your advocacy at this point? Are there any decisions you could make right now, in order to become a better advocate or get behind a better cause?
Issues that I would say that I am the most passionate about is defending those who can not defend themselves. I have a twin brother who could not be any more different than I am. He was diagnosed with autism and ADHD, and because of this I have been his voice . My mother always tells me this story of a time when we were in daycare and a little girl kept taking toys from my brother and he would just cry, and I would be the one who would go and snatch the toy from her and give it back to my brother. It irked me how people would use him and treat him like crap just because he could not properly defend himself and that fire and urge in me grew bigger and bigger. I knew since I was in third grade that I would become a defense attorney and that interest has NEVER changed. While my friends did not know what they wanted for themself in the future I knew and was content with the field of study that I’d chosen. I feel that I am supporting important causes with all my talents and energy. Currently, I am a criminology major who is studying to become a defense attorney.
On class on Tuesday, to be honest I was extremely tired and felt like over sleeping for class. But I got up and did and I can genenuiely say that I am happy that I did. You asked us what are some ways to raise awareness adequately or inadequately and I thought of some ways to speak out. To make your voices heard you have to speak but speak loud I told myself. You have to be educated and confident when you speak out. But then my classmates started talking about something that I hadn’t realized but totally agreed with. Sometimes you have to know when to speak out or when to just let it go . Also sometimes being so loud is not the right choice. Every situation is different and may cause a different response.
On a side note, I also like what you said when you said you can not tell someone who is bleeding that they are not hurt. That was beautifully said.