I can not personally relate to the experiences that Mellody shares with us in her talk, but I can say there have been times where I felt invisible or like I didn't belong. In totally honesty, the tweet that I have shared below is something that I can easily agree with. However, I do believe that there are times when people say things with positive intentions, but not in a way that seems positive. I know that for me, I am sometimes afraid to say what I am thinking because I am not confident enough in the terminology of the topic.
For instance, I took a Sex and Gender class for my Core Four General Education requirement, and we learned about the word "hermaphrodite." I had never heard this word a day in my life, and there was a boy in the class that raised his hand and shared with the class that he found this word to be extremely offensive, and in this, I openly learned about this offensive word when sharing it with a group I am in at Rhode Island College. I shared that the boy to offense to the word, and my advisors kindly told me it was an offensive word and to not say it so casually. I felt really bad and apologized, followed by explaining that I had never heard the word prior to the class. I was told that my response to being apologetic but open about the topic was honest and brave. With this being said, just hearing someone say these words to me was really helpful. If I am open and honest about my thoughts and ideas, perhaps it will make it easier for me to learn.
This is similar to Mellody talking about making new friends or interacting with people that aren't like you in challenging your assumptions and developing new insights. You take what you want to take to become who you are, and in that, you accept everyone else as they are to make for a better environment. When my advisors of the group told me about how great my response was, I took it to heart, and I am hoping this strength will grow in the field of youth development as I learn new values and take on new experiences. It was a little embarrassing at first, but I knew in my heart that I wasn't doing any harm, and that I was simply learning.
[ C O U R A G E ]
Mellody reminds us that we live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, and it is our job to be good ROLE MODELS (YMCA!) for our future youth. "If we can learn to deal with our discomfort and just relax into it, we'll have a better life," (Mellody Hobson). Although this can be extremely difficult for some individuals, including myself, it is important to show this courage to our future youth by providing them with a positive attitude that will help them be open to other people's thoughts and ideas and more accepting of their own. Having a space where youth can talk about their experiences, have a voice, and be confident in themselves, similar to Youth in Action, we give youth the chance to feel like they can accomplish anything, similar to what Mellody's mom did for her, and what my advisors did for me, to make us not feel incapable or invisible.
"I stand here today talking about this issue of
racial discrimination because I believe it threatens
to rob another generation of all of the opportunities
that all of us want for all of our children
no matter what their color or where they come from."
-- Mellody Hobson