campus commentary semester 2

When Bryan Stevenson came to speak in the Belk auditorium in January he was incredibly moving and beyond inspiring. He held my attention during every second of his speech, and he is easily the best speaker I have ever listened to.

The one point that really stuck out to me was when he spoke on proximity. Stevenson was absolutely correct when he said that we need to get out of our comfort zone and help those who we do not see everyday. However, Michaela Gibbons made an excellent point in another class we have together (Race, Gender, Migration (German 351)). She said that we cannot make a difference in the world unless we fix our own community first. There are plenty of things to do around your own community, and that is a good place to start if you want to make some sort of a larger difference. 

To be quite honest, there is not much I am doing right now to be making a difference where I live. Besides learning the history of racism in some of my classes, I would say that I am not being very productive in changing the way we view race in our country. Even at Davidson, our school is still very segregated, and people usually tend to stick to social/ friend groups with members of their own race. 

To “change the world,” we need to step outside of our comfort zone and actually deal with the worldwide phenomenon which is racism. It can be hard to accept the fact that you may be more comfortable being around people that are more like you, everyone is, but the only way to expand your mind and the minds of others is to do something you are not comfortable with. This is all easier said than done. 

In this world, we need to change the idea that staying only within your comfort zone is okay. The best way to learn how to appreciate our world and culture is to delve into others. If one only spends time with someone they are familiar with or never leaves the comfort of their familiarity, they will never grow as a person or learn to appreciate what our world has to offer. 

Through his talk, Stevenson taught me and the rest of the audience to be proud of one’s identity, no matter where you come from, your troubled past, or what you look like. Everyone has a history and a story to tell, so one should always be proud of one’s identity, even if the rest of the world tells you not to be. One thing that I learned for sure is that one’s accomplishments does not distinguish one’s identity over another’s, and that everyone is considered just as important as their neighbor and every individual deserves an equal chance.

Since being sent home due to the coronavirus pandemic, I decided to watch Just Mercy and dive deeper into Stevenson’s story. The movie was excellent, and I came to tears seeing how hard these prisoners on death row have it, and the disbelief that comes from members of their own community, even though blatant evidence is there. 

I am beyond honored and proud to have been a member of the audience the day Stevenson came to Davidson. His words stuck with me, and he taught me to be so very grateful for what I have, and to use my resources to the benefit of others.