“So, what racist comment did your Aunt say on Christmas Eve this year?” This was not exactly the type of question I could ask my friends on the first day back from winter break. As I sat around the lunch table with my friends on Jan. 4, we all shared stories of Christmas morning and baking cookies with our cousins. But looming in our minds was a silent reminder of that hurtful comment made by our family members.
No one ever mentions anything about their racist relative, and would never dream of saying anything to them. We were taught to respect our elders, even if we do not share the same opinions with them. However, our words, or lack thereof, have a strong impact. Someone is always listening. Choosing not to speak up teaches those around you that not speaking up does not contribute to the problem. Empathy without activism is useless. In my experience, most people are willing to be educated, and even if one specific person is not willing to be educated, you still open an opportunity to educate everyone else around you.
Every time we talk about race, we open an opportunity to both learn from and teach others. We are also faced with an opportunity to handle the emotions that come with this difficult conversation. We may ask ourselves the question “Why do we need to talk about race in State College?” The reason is simple, and is summed up well in a quote. “Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do.” (Unknown) No matter how difficult the conversation may be for you and those around you, it is time to talk about race...for a change.
Abby English is a student at State College Area High School.
IF YOU GO
What: Let’s Talk About Race — For a Change
When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 27
Where: Easterly Parkway Elementary School, 234 Easterly Parkway, State College
More info: Preregister at www.scasd.org/Page/401