Last Wednesday, Cornel West spoke in Carter Hall about identifiable issues of our generation.
West spoke against racial inequality, xenophobia, prejudice and homophobia.
It was clear many members of the audience personally related to West’s words and they shared their stories of overcoming such obstacles.
While West’s words filled me with compassion and resolve, I admit there was an undercurrent feeling like I was an imposter in a room filled with people who had suffered so much.
I am from Crawfordsville, Indiana.
I graduated with 133 kids, only one of whom was African American.
The biggest police action I ever saw was when little Billy went 60mph down a 30mph back road.
I never saw the inequality West spoke of.
My little town was a utopia of people who couldn’t care less what you looked like or where you were from.
We all drank our Polar Pops and watched grass grow in peace.
I never saw the xenophobia, the prejudice, the homophobia.
However, many people have never known a world where these issues did not dominate their streets.
Even though I might never have had to personally deal with these issues, I still have a responsibility to respond.
Just because you haven’t seen the issues first hand doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Those of us who were fortunate enough to live in a town devoid of such horrors have a responsibility to respond to what so many others are going through.
First and foremost, we need to realize that even though we might not see the issues, they still exist.
We need to realize that even though all the cops we know in our town are good, there are still bad cops who abuse their power.
We need to understand that we cannot fully understand what someone else has gone through.
Listening to so many stories of struggles in Carter Hall, I felt connected to people I had never even met before.
West stood on the stage nodding and listening as audience members asked how they could change a system that seemed so set in stone.
West told us to have the courage to break the status quo.
He told us to keep pushing the boundaries that threatened to keep us shackled.
Most importantly, West reminded us to always stay compassionate with those who are suffering.
So for those of you who have gone through so much hardship in your life, I offer compassion.
And for those of you who are like me, offer compassion wherever it is needed.