So, a few days ago we had a diversity meeting with everyone in the school. When I first heard about it, I was thinking “Wow, two hours of sitting and talking about things I am already pretty familiar with.” After leaving that meeting, I realized that there are so many things in life that I have taken for granted. I left that meeting with a completely different view on life, and how I want to live mine.
We did this one activity, that was optional, called the privilege walk. In this activity, one of the staff members asked us questions and if they applied to you, you either took one step forward or one step backwards. They were questions like “Were you raised in a supportive family?” Yes, one step forward. “Were you expected at a young age to go to college?” Yes, one step forward. “Do you have more than 50 books in your house?” Yes, one step forward. “Were you raised in a safe neighborhood?” It was at this question that I realized that not everyone was stepping forward. We were not in a straight line anymore. It hit me hard to know how privileged I am. Why do I deserve all of the things that I have; don’t other people deserve them more than I do? I have never come home not knowing if the lights would be turned on for me, or if we would have something to eat that night for dinner. As more questions were asked, everyone in the line moved farther and farther apart. What had once been a line, was now more a blob of people, all spread out.
After this activity, we had a discussion. People very courageously stood up and told their story to everyone in the school. All of the stories and comments were so touching. I realized that I am not alone in this. I am not the only one who is far away from the people that I love. I am not the only one who takes for granted everything that my parents do for me. It also made me realize how much support I have in this school. The fact that we could sit down for two hours and just let all of our opinions out without anyone judging us meant a lot to me.
We also spent quite a bit of time on religion, and respecting other people’s religion. We talked about stereotypes that applied to our religions and stereotypes that we knew about other religions. Everyone was so respectful when other people were speaking. Religion is a very touchy subject, and the fact that so many people felt comfortable to stand up and talk about their religion showed me how much I can trust this community. Religion is never really discussed in my hometown. It is assumed that everyone is a southern baptist, but that is not true in my case. I realized that I am not the only one who is confused about religion and what I believe in. As teenagers, we shouldn’t be influenced by what our parents believe in. Thankfully, my parents have let me discover my own beliefs.
This whole experience really opened my eyes. I now know that I am not the only one out there who has certain beliefs about things. I know that I am living in such a supportive community who is willing to listen to other people’s opinions. We know that we don’t all see eye to eye on things, but we respect each others beliefs. I am so lucky to have this opportunity to be here.
I would like to dedicate this blog post to anyone who helped me get where I am today. My family, my teachers, my sponsors, and my friends. These people have done so much for me throughout my life, but one of the most important of those is that they let me be myself. They never tried to change who I was or questioned why I act the way I do. *For anyone who doesn’t know me, I am a very eccentric human. I am not afraid to by myself.* All of these people believe in me and it makes me glow to know just how much support I have around me. I love you all and thank you so much for making this journey of mine possible.