Category Archives: Guest bloggers

Guest Blogger: How to Save a Life

Jeremy is The Spider-Pan, host of The Neverland Podcast. He enjoys comics, Disney, video games, Disney, movies, and Disney. He also likes long walks on the beach in the rain while dancing around light poles.

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Life is important, in fact it’s sacred. We all want to preserve life, no matter which side we sit on the the question of when it begins. We could go in circles discussing that issue, and that’s not what I’m here to do.

Over the course of my time as a guest Tweeter, Facebook Editor, and guest blogger, I’ve tried to share some ways that you yourself can do a small thing that makes a big difference in the life of another. Today I want to show you how you can save a life. It may even help you with a difficult decision you may be facing or might face in the future.

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I want to tell you about an organization and place that’s called Rachel House. Here is a place that wants to help women make informed decisions, and even get the father’s involved. They provide free clinical services like pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. They offer mentoring and counseling to those making a decision and also to those that choose life.

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They offer a 20 week education to both the mother and father with holistic care and preparing the couple to become parents. After the class, they connect the parents with a mentor to help through that first year with their child.

They encourage men to step up as fathers.

The Rachel House Fatherhood program began in January of 2018. After conducting a 6-month pilot program late in 2017, it was discovered that the fathers of babies were very open to having someone to talk with. They too are impacted by the pregnancy of their girlfriends. Volunteer male advocates meet individually with each man that accompanies the woman when she comes in for the pregnancy test. Couples are reunited in the ultrasound room and the men are encourage to voice their support of the pregnancy. The program is growing rapidly. Curriculum is currently being reviewed to begin a male education program for dads.

If the parents are leaning toward abortion, they will take the time to talk to you about the procedure options, the costs, and even the risk factors involved. They recognize the choice that’s involved and they want women to know everything they can before deciding on a path. They’ll even assist with adoption with a representative.

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All of these services are offered with no charge. In order to offer such services, however, they rely on donations.

If you can’t fit a donation into your budget, they also thrive on volunteers willing to give a little of their time to help be advocates, mentors, and educators.

There any many ways that you can get involved in making difference in people’s lives. Do something positive and constructive and see the world change. You can be a hero to someone you may never meet. The choice is yours.

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Guest Blogger: One Way You Can Make a Difference

Jeremy is The Spider-Pan, host of The Neverland Podcast. He enjoys comics, Disney, video games, Disney, movies, and Disney. He also likes long walks on the beach in the rain while dancing around light poles.

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Imagine a young girl, perhaps someone you know.  She’s young, pure, innocent, and perhaps a bit trusting.  She’s living with her family in poverty, though she still has hopes and dreams of a future.  She wants to love and be loved, treated like a princess, respected and honored in a life of her own making.

One day a stranger comes along and offers her work and a way to support her family.  The stranger offers to take her somewhere that she can make all of her dreams come true.  She’s excited and trusts this stranger completely.  Her family sees a way to combat the poverty that they live in and so they permit the stranger to take her away.

They cross the border into a new country and she’s excited about what her new future will bring.  She journeys through a nice community as she thinks all her dreams are coming true.

And then she is brought inside a decrepit ruin of a house.  She’s shoved into a room with a mattress on the floor.  The stranger she has trusted takes money from another man, breathes a sigh of relief and quickly leaves, abandoning her to her new master.  She’s just been trafficked, and has become a slave.

She is beaten, drugged, and forced to do unspeakable things.  Her will is broken, her dreams die, and she learns that resistance only brings more pain.

All this can be changed when the right person is there at the right time to intercept her and save her from this horrid crime.

Love Justice international is a non-profit organization that began as Tiny Hands International in 2004 when they opened up an orphanage in Nepal.  In just two years they began rescuing children on the borders of India and Nepal, and begin work in Bangladesh.  Since then they have grown to reach Africa and other places in impoverished countries where children are trafficked, and they’ve helped bring these criminals to justice.

The human trafficking industry is one of the greatest injustices in the world today—and it continues to grow at a devastating pace. Women and children are either kidnapped or lured by false offers of marriage or employment, and then they are sold into human trafficking.

They are smuggled to another country where they are forced to work as prostitutes, laborers, or similar roles. Our primary strategy for fighting the human trafficking industry is to monitor national borders and transit hubs, intercepting the victims before they are lost to the dark world of modern slavery. –https://www.lovejustice.ngo/our-heartbeat

They currently call this work, Project Beautiful.

We believe every life is beautiful.
She is a child of God, and He knows her by name.
She is worth everything to Him.
She is not just a victim.
She is human. She is precious.
She deserves to be free.
Because every life is beautiful. – https://www.lovejustice.ngo/projectbeautiful

For just $30 a month you can be a part of their efforts as they continue to help orphaned or abandoned children, and rescue women from their would-be slavers.  It is estimated that 21-45 million slaves are imprisoned globally, and so far they rescued over 15,000.  There’s a lot of work to be done, but they need funding.  This is just a small way that you can make a huge difference in the life of someone that you may never meet.

 

Guest Blogger: Lindsey Adell

Lindsey Adell is a senior at the University of Central Missouri studying Live Studio and Remote Production. She plans to dedicate a year of national volunteer service,  following graduation in December. After her service year, Lindsey would like to continue her education in Kansas City and obtain a master’s degree.

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 When it comes to LGBT and television, we’ve come a long way. I remember as a child I hardly ever saw a gay character on t.v., not to mention, many of those times the representation was less than favorable. Now, the story is different. From Orange Is The New Black to Modern Family, LGBT is finally getting some of the positive recognition it deserves.

Asides from these shows, there is one series that has really stood out to me as being a raw representation of what specifically transgender life can be like. Transparent is an eight time Emmy Award winning Amazon series that highlights the life of a Jewish L.A. family, as the father Mort (played by Jeffrey Tambor) begins her transition to becoming Maura, the woman she always was.

Transparent displays the grueling process of a transgender transformation, as well as giving an insight into the injustice towards people who identify as transgender. Many times in the series, Maura is put in situations where she must interact with close-minded people. These tense and enlightening episodes are what really stand out as showing the raw truth of how cruel the world can be. From a strange checkpoint at the airport, to a doctor that will not put female on her charts, you get an insight into the pain and hurt that transgender people feel every day.

Throughout the series, you also follow the lives of Maura’s children and gain deeper insight into the family as a whole. By touching on the subjects of outside rejection and disappointment, you see the strength it takes to come out as yourself to your family and colleagues. But, there are growing moments in the show where you find yourself invested in the family and each of their struggles. You watch Maura as she finds her way towards self acceptance and expression that will pull on your heart strings, in only the best way possible.

And it’s not just transgender life that this show touches on. Each member of the family has a backstory, filled with real world sexual situations that they have to work through to find themselves. One daughter explores her sexuality and her future, as a son tries to piece together a sexual situation from his childhood that left him feeling broken. This show has truly been beneficial to me, because it has given me a better understanding of the LGBT community, and what I can do to make each person feel safe and loved the way that they are.

So, if you haven’t seen the show, I recommend you go watch it. You’ll be blow away by how much you thought you knew, and how much you still have to learn. Also, we all know you have amazon prime so there is no real excuse there. At the end of each season I watch, I like to ask myself what I’m doing to help, not only the transgender community, but the LGBT community in general. Have I offered support when needed? Am I supportive at all times or do I maybe turn a blind eye when someone is being intolerant? Am I living what I’m preaching? These question are something that all of us could have trouble answering. So go out, watch the show, and learn something new and enlightening about others, as well as yourself.

 

Guest Blogger: Brock Masters

Brock Masters is a senior at the University of Central Missouri that is studying Digital Media Proudction and Marketing. He works for KMOS-TV and the University of Central Missouri Alumni Foundation. He has made a number of short films throughout his career. He also maintains his own blog that covers the reality TV shows Survivor and Big Brother.

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Recently, I made a trip up to Kansas City to do some shooting on a documentary that I am making. The documentary is about two twelve year old boxers that are also twin brothers. I went up to the gym they train at to get some footage of them and there were definitely some challenges that I faced when shooting. Some problems were easily fixed. Others, not so much.

First off, the gym they train in was very small. It is kept in the basement of a community center that is very old. To get an idea of how old this place was, one of the rings there had been there since 1917. Anyways, the rings were just barely able to fit in the rooms they were held. This really limited what I could do as far as camera movement goes. To actually move the camera around the ring, I had to take it into the ring first, put it on the other side of the ring and then do the same with the tripod. It was hard to get some shots, but the way I worked around this was by recruiting a crew.

A crew is a very important part of the film making process. Whenever you can, I highly recommend getting a few extra hands to help out. My crew was able to help making moving all the gear pretty easily and it didn’t take as long as it would’ve if I would’ve been by myself.  I also had one of my crew members man a second camera on a handheld rig. This gave them the freedom to get shots that I couldn’t because it just would’ve been a process to move everything around.

The other big thing that probably will create problems in post production was the lighting in the gym. There were many different types of lights in the gym so it was hard to really nail down a color temperature. I ended up setting the White Balance at around 5000K and the footage looks alright right now. Because the cameras we used shoot so desaturated though, there is going to be heavy color correction going on. The challenge is going to be getting it to match the handheld cameras colors. The camera I shot on was the Black Magic Production Camera and the other was a DSLR camera. DSLR’s shoot color pretty much to a T so that is what I am going to try to match up.

Keeping the brothers in focus when they were sparring was also a little difficult just because they were moving so fast. I constantly had to ride the focus to try and keep them from being blurry. If I could’ve done it again, I would’ve changed some of my camera settings such as the aperture to give me room to work with.

All and all the footage turned out really well and I am excited to get to editing on it. What problems have you encountered on shoots?

Guest Blogger – Anna Glennon – Change Starts With You

In wake of recent news spreading across the country of rallies, protests and Facebook comment fights, it’s important that you prep yourself in order to effectively try and further the causes and issues you are passionate about. How you present your topic is how many people will decide whether or not your issue is a serious matter. Here are 5 simple tips to help raise awareness for important issues that are close to your heart.

Read the rest of this entry

Guest Blogger – Colbren Thompson – Distraction?

Colbren Thompson is a Senior at the University of Central Missouri majoring in Digital Media Production with an emphasis in audio. He is also a devoted fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, a creator of quality content, and a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.

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San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick has football fans all over the world discussing his actions within the last couple of months. If you have been hiding under a rock and don’t completely understand Kaepernick’s actions allow me to explain. Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players have started protesting about the social injustices in America. Colin Kaepernick was the first player to start this protest, and he decided to sit down during the national anthem at his football games.

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After being asked why he decided to sit during the national anthem Kaepernick responded, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Nonetheless there were some Americans who were furious by the acts of the young quarterback even saying that he was being extremely disrespectful to the country. Even after all of the negative comments and reporter questions Kaepernick never apologized for sitting during the anthem, because sometimes you have to make others uncomfortable to prove your point. Other NFL players wanted to join in on Kaepernick’s protest, but they weren’t too hype about just sitting during the anthem away from their teammates. After taking suggestions from other players, NFL staff, and activist Kaepernick and other NFL players decided not to sit down during the anthem. Instead they decided to be right next to their teammates on the sidelines, and just take a knee while the national anthem played. kaepernick_reid_kneel

I personally agree with Colin Kaepernick and his protest because he is ironically standing up for people who feel like they aren’t being heard. There are protest going on in America every single day about the social injustices, but they aren’t being televised. Kaepernick started sitting/kneeling for the national anthem to make a statement, and he immediately made that statement because everyone wanted to know why he wasn’t standing for the anthem. One thing I do find very frustrating though are the people who just completely look over his reasoning, and says Kaepernick should just stand for the pledge of allegiance like everyone else. That seems kind of confusing to me though, because if America is the land of the “free” why is it such a big ordeal that an athlete sits/kneels during the national anthem? Shouldn’t athletes be able to do whatever they want to do during the anthem because its their constitutional right?

Guest Blogger: Tanner Pinkerton

Land Use and its Impacts on Social Justice

As the issues of responsible land use, and ethical management practices remain at the forefront of many discussions, the impacts on the environment, and communities affected by irresponsible policy, continue to strike a chord of discontent among many.

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Photo credit: http://www.mashable.com

As noted during past protests regarding the TransCanada-Keystone XL Pipe-Line, mining, construction, and refining of ‘tar sands crude oil’, have the potential to displace many Native North American Indigenous Peoples. Large fossil fuel industry has maneuvered its’ way into once pristine Native Peoples’ forest land, and is now beginning to devour an area the size of the State of Florida. Environmentalists like Sierra Club, and 350.org, stand in unity with members of the Native American Communities on both sides of the U.S., Canadian Border, as this development project utilizes, removes resources, and passes through several regions of Cree First Nations homelands.

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Photo credit: gdb.voanews.com

This strong-arm development policy drastically effects the ability of these peoples to survive according to their cultural histories, and forces an adaptation to assimilate once again to Western ideals and cultural values. Not only does this policy have lack of respect for the earth and its’ people, this domestic resource will be sold over-seas, thus out-sourcing our energy security. This is not a strategy, it’s a tragedy.

Since April, hundreds of representatives from numerous tribes across the United States have been gathering in North Dakota to stage a passionate protest. What they are protesting is the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The 1,170-mile project starts in western North Dakota and goes all the way to Illinois.

Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s land lies just next to the planned path of the oil pipeline. The 8,000-member tribe is vehemently opposed to the project’s environmental and cultural impact. The tribe sees a strong potential that the pipeline would cause a catastrophe if it leaks or breaks, ruining their water supply and sacred sites.

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Photo credit: http://www.foxnews.com

One particular issue is the involvement of Enbridge Inc., a stakeholder in the pipeline. Enbridge has a mixed record on oil spills. In 2010, one of its pipelines had one of the worst inland spills in American history, spilling 1.2 million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River.

The Sioux tribe blames the US Army Corps of Engineers for failing to properly review cultural and historical factors before granting the pipeline federal approval. For their part, the Corps says it did consult the tribes and no one described specific cultural sites that the pipe would damage.

As the struggle to become self-sustainable in a growing world becomes more of a challenge, development of vast areas of land for the express purpose of profit, continue to impose unreasonable amounts of change on indigenous cultures. As many tribes and other ‘nomadic’ societies can easily fall through the cracks of established legal processes, or become victims of a marginalized political policy, the United Nations had established the, ‘Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples’-on Sept. 13, 2007. This declaration makes certain accommodations to ensure for the humane and respectful treatment of all tribal cultures considered to be native. However, as water and other resources become scarce, the concept of fair and just treatment seems increasingly unlikely.

Guest Blogger: Tanner Pinkerton

Tanner Pinkerton is a digital media student at the University of Central Missouri. He has a passion for audio production and marketing. He is excited to graduate with his B.S. in Communications in the Spring of 2017.

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Just Films, a free film series tackles social justice and gender equity

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Photo credit: Yemanjá: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil, Donna C. Roberts.

Film has long been a powerful medium for social justice. For the next 10 months, Pittsburgh will play host to a first-of-its-kind film series that uses cinema to spark conversations—and inspire action—around social, political and economic change.

Teaming up to present the new Just Films series are four regional organizations deeply committed to women, girls, gender equity and social justice—the Chatham University Women’s Institute, New Voices Pittsburgh, Women and Girls Foundation, and Women’s Law Project.

Free and open to the public, the monthly series features 10 new social justice films—most showing in Pittsburgh for the first time and many made by women.

Accompanying the films are post-screening panel discussions and talk-back sessions featuring local and national figures.

The inaugural film festival explores a wide range of issues—from immigration and human trafficking, to trans families and paid leave—all selected to educate, inspire, challenge and empower viewers.

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Photo credit: EQUAL MEANS EQUAL, Kamala Lopez.

Don’t miss the kick-off on September 26 at 6:15 p.m., when the series presents Mikaela Shwer’s poignant documentary, Don’t Tell Anyone (No Le Digas a Nadie). Focusing on 24-year-old immigrant activist Angy Rivera—who shares her “parallel journey of coming out of the shadows as undocumented and a survivor of sexual abuse”—the film premiered as part of PBS’s 2015 POV series.

Audiences will follow Angy’s personal story from poverty in rural Colombia to the front page of The New York Times, as she becomes “a beacon in a movement for national change.” Featuring verite footage and candid interviews, the film helps to give voice to real struggles faced by nearly 11 million undocumented people in America.

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Photo credit: Finding Dawn, Christine Welsh.

Don’t Tell Anyone will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Christina Castro (Women’s Law Project), Maria Duarte (Chatham student), Monica Ruiz (Casa San Jose Latino Community Organization), and Sister Janice Vanderneck (Casa San Jose).

Not to miss is a special Just Films event on Thursday, October 27 featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. Taking place at 6:30 p.m. in Chatham’s Campbell Memorial Chapel, the event will feature the Pittsburgh premiere of the new award-winning documentary film, Yemanjá: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil, made by local filmmakers Donna C. Roberts and Donna Read. Narrated by Walker—the fascinating film documents the Candomblé spiritual culture of Bahia, Brazil. In the stunning film, elder women leaders share stories exploring Candomblé’s history, social challenges, triumphs, strong sense of community, and Earth-based wisdom and practices. Joining Walker and Roberts for the event’s special post-screening panel discussion will be Dr. Rachel Elizabeth Harding, a scholar of Indigenous spiritual traditions and Candomblé priestesses at the University of Colorado.

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Photo Credit: Dreamcatcher, Kim Longinotto.

The compelling film series concludes June 15 with Sharon Shattuck’s documentary, From This Day Forward. The moving portrayal chronicles the experiences of an American family coping with a highly personal transformation—when the director’s own father comes out as transgender and transitions to female.

Guest Blogger: Náthalie Wiltinge

Náthalie Wiltinge is a Dutch international exchange student at UCMO, studying Public Relations for 1 semester.

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Social Justice through music

Nearly two weeks ago on the 22nd of October, Usher released his new song “Chains” featuring Nas and Bibi Bourelly . With over one million views on YouTube, Usher and Nas decided not to just bring out a new song, but to address an important issue within this song, namely racial injustice. The song starts of with a short, but strong message: “While racial injustice keeps killing, society keeps looking away”.
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The music video of “Chains” centers around black lives lost due to police brutality, showing the victims full name, age, face and story on the screen as the song plays on the background. With the release of the song, Ushes and Nas demand society to stop ignoring the police brutality within America, to look up and face it. “We got a problem that needs some acknowledgement” is what Nas raps as gun shots sound in the background. On top of the strong lyrics and the video, Usher also released an interactive video on the website of Tidal. The site asks for your webcam permission to detect your eyes as you watch the video. The goal of this is to make people stop looking away, every time you look away from the screen or look on another tab, the music stops and the text “Don’t Look Away” shows up.

“In writing this song, I was motivated by the events involving prejudicial injustice that are still happening today. The reality is that racial bigotry diminishes the lives of too many people in our country. The pain and suffering that these victims and their families have endured is something we must never forget. When we look away from this problem it gets worse. To fix it, we have to face it. We have to come together as a country to solve these problems and this is one way I can contribute.”

~Usher

 

The lyrics together with the powerful message in the video left me speechless at first. I read every story, word for word, thinking how it even is possible for things like this to happen. One of the stories specially grabbed my attention, and it will probably sound familiar to fellow students of UCMO you as well… Michael Brown, 18 years old, Ferguson Missouri… As I read that name and see the place, chills run over my spine. And then suddenly it felt as if this issue is getting close to me too. Not because I know him personally, no, I didn’t know Michael or anyone close to him at all. But because it happened not very far from the place where I study, the place I live. A place where I feel safe, where it feels like these things can’t happen. Yet they do happen and reading it makes me get the chills. It kinda feels unreal, yet it is very real and happens too often.

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As someone from outside America, these forms of brutality are pretty much unknown to me, the police barely has to pull their gun. Our biggest fear in The Netherlands, no matter which color skin you have, is that our bicycle could be stolen, which results in buying a new one and that only hurts the wallet. Therefore news, or no, tragedies is a better word, as described in “Chains” just leaves me baffled, speechless, and above all, sad. No one should ever get killed over senseless violence while being unarmed, especially not by an entity who is supposed to protect civilians. Of course I am no where near a position to judge about the situations, I only read what others say about it and have to take their word for it, I wasn’t there, I don’t know these people. However I do know that these things are uncommon where I’m from. And no, I am not saying that my country is perfect, we also have our flaws just like anyone else in the world. But issues like these? They simple barely to never happen, and if they do happen, the officer in question gets put off duty until all the facts are on the table and justice is served when needed to whomever is responsible. For me that is enough to tell others to look up and put a stop to it. We can no longer close our eyes to these issues, and it doesn’t matter which skin color you or to whom this injustice happens too has. They won’t stop until people stop looking away. They won’t stop until people want to make a change. I believe Usher did a good job in creating awareness for this issue by using his music to send a powerful message to the world. A message that I believe should be listened too, looked at, thought about, and shared throughout the nation and even the world.

 

Here is the video, but if you want the full experience with all the eye detection stuff, go to https://chains.tidal.com/ and watch it there.

I hope it leaves you as speechless as it did to me. I hope it made you think about and realize the problem. Because that means the message came across and that we are one step closer towards change.

 

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Guest blogger: Leah Wankum

Leah Wankum is a graduate student of mass communication at the University of Central Missouri. Leah is also the managing editor of the Muleskinner/digitalBURG, a student-run publication that covers campus news as well as news in Warrensburg and Johnson County, Missouri.

The most compelling stories are often the true ones, but occasionally I come across a story that fills me to the brim with inspiration and hope. “The Help,” a 2011 drama set in the ’60s civil rights movement, did just that. I read the book first, which is almost always better, in my opinion, but the film was also wonderful.

The setting

The HelpSet in Mississippi in the 1960s, Skeeter, played by Emma Stone, is an aspiring writer who starts documenting the experiences of black maids who go through unfathomable hardships on a day-to-day basis. Skeeter is friends with some of the women who have hired the maids who came forward to share their stories with her, which creates tension among the white community and anxiety within the black community. The white community, for the most part, was keen on keeping its social status above blacks, and blacks were treated terribly for it. If Skeeter’s novel (and the creation of it) wouldn’t catch on and instigate change for the better, members of the black community were certain it would change for the worse because of Skeeter’s and the maids’ efforts.

Things are a lot more different from 50 years ago, but that doesn’t change the story’s message. Attitudes take a long time to change, and hearts take a long time to heal. Around the time my grandmother was of age to attend college, in the early 1950s, she couldn’t attend Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, because it was a black university only. Many colleges and universities across the nation were designated white-only or black-only, and not too long ago, at that. The thought sickens me, that people were treated so unfairly just a few years ago.

My takeaway

I have colleagues of all skin colors, and they’re all so smart, admirable people. I can’t be more grateful for the opportunity to live and work alongside them. But the blessing that is my college life isn’t the case everywhere. The time to tell stories of social injustice is never over, which is a sad truth but, at the same time, a remarkable opportunity to do life together, share our experiences and, hopefully, enact positive change toward a better life for all of us.

Reminders like “The Help” show me where we once were, and where I hope we never go again. I hope we never stop listening to each other, and never stop sharing our stories.

–Leah