Student Speak Out - February 2017
Hello brave humans!
Our first ever SSO is finally here! Today's submission is by our very own social media intern, Jamiah Bennett. Jamiah knew exactly what she had to write about when prompted to "discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family" for her Common Application college essay. An experience she had at a museum in Georgia, a year before her essay was due, opened her eyes to a what it felt like to be directly victimized; it ignited her passion to advocate for everyone everywhere. Jamiah believed that writing about this experience for her essay would not only speak of a time that matured her but it would also be a method of advocacy.
Please enjoy this month's student submission!
By Jamiah Bennett
"How long can you last?", read the simulation challenge. The counter was actually lined with five simulations. I approached the counter and glanced to my right where I saw a young woman shaking her head. I looked to my left and three teenagers were expressing their dissatisfaction with the experience. As I lowered myself into the chair, my heart rate elevated. "Maybe I shouldn't," I thought. Before I knew it, I had put on the headset, placed my hands flat on the counter and closed my eyes. A moment later the audio began to play.
"Get up!" It was as if I could feel the attackers breath crawl down my neck. My heart rapidly racing, I slightly opened one eye to confirm that no one was actually beside me. Boom! I jumped in my seat. Feet began hitting my chair. With each kick came a greater intensity. My hands shook with each threat. Only one minute and thirty seconds had gone by, but I felt like I was sitting in that chair for an entire day. I could not get up fast enough.
I had learned about the Woolworth Lunch Counter Sit-Ins in school. However, here I was in Atlanta, Georgia experiencing somewhat first-hand what it was like to be attacked and hated for the color of my skin. This was a harrowing experience. After the simulation, I attended a special and thought-provoking session where my experience was discussed. I was inspired to be an agent of change, to use my life to make a difference.
My experience in Atlanta led me to understand that civil and human rights are real and valuable and that no person should be subjected to discrimination based on skin color or other differences. I also came to understand that I have a responsibility to speak out against injustices. In an effort to do just that, I agreed to speak at the first ever International and Intergenerational Informed and Strong Summit for Women and Girls hosted by the Get In Touch Foundation. I had the honor of speaking to over two hundred diverse females, young and old, on the subject of race and gender. This session, entitled "Race: How It Affects Our Lives," consisted of a panel of racially diverse young women who helped shed light on the challenges of navigating the world as a minority. The following day, many parents of the young girls who participated expressed their gratitude for an engaging and informative discussion. They communicated that the discussion continued into their dinner conversations that night and well beyond.
As a result of my experience at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights I was inspired to participate in the Summit and have been galvanized to be an advocate for change. I will no longer "sit at the lunch-counter" and simply accept non-action in the face of injustice.