The Importance of Showing Up

I had the pleasure of attending an open conversation “Courageous Conversations” hosted by the Department of  Student Diversity & Inclusion here on campus. Although not my first rodeo, it has been a while since I had a seat at the table. "Courageous Conversations" are just that, conversations for both students and administration that delve into specific social issues such as the Charlottesville rally, or the recent racially charged social media incident to hit VSU’s campus.

Tuesday night, students got a chance to gather and more importantly speak freely about how we view and feel on the topic of race relations on our campus. Given that we are in South GA, it’s no secret that race is a hot-button issue in our community. And that issue also affects the way we operate on a day to day basis. After screenshots of a white student referring to a staff member as a slave hit Twitter, many students chimed in on the issue. Questions of how the university would handle the situation were thrown out, as well as if the student was right or wrong, remorseful or intentionally trolling those around her. Sure throwing those questions out into the Twitter-sphere spark conversation but with who exactly?

The power of social media has proved itself time and again but it has also proven itself to be a double-edged sword. The power of community, platform, and voice can shed a light on topics and situations that would rather be left in the dark. On the other hand, keeping those conversations strictly online only brings the horse to the watering hole… and the horse in this circumstance is still dying of thirst.

Cabinet-level administration such as the Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Vincent Miller and Vice President of Student Success, Dr. Rodney Carr were in attendance to hear first-hand from students who wanted to be heard. Dr. Gerald Williams, the Interim Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion had high hopes with the very first Conversation— yet 30 students showed up. That trend has continued throughout the event's inception but the show still goes on.

From an active students point of view, it becomes baffling as to why we, and I mean you, don’t show up. Sure life gets in the way— classes, studying, work, etc… but given the backlash and attention these social issues conjure up, being present to be heard also seems like a necessity right? This whole article would be obsolete if administration peeped the conversations on Twitter or overheard what was said on the way to class but that’s not the reality we live in. When being met halfway, you have to be willing to show up. This will hold true on college campuses, in interpersonal relationships, and for the rest of our lives. 

What good does talking behind a computer do if those words fall on ears that aren’t bout that action?