- University of Utah students focus on diversity in innovation
- Shades of grey: complexity of African-American voices on gun control
- Redefining success for African-American college students
As my time with the Voices of Utah comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what it has meant to me.
First of all, when I came into Voices of Utah, I was told that I would be covering the African-American beat. To be honest this made me a bit uncomfortable. Not that I had anything against African-Americans personally. Some would say I was mildly racist but really it was more uncomfortably ignorant. That kind of thing happens when you grow up living in a town of 50,000 people with only three African-Americans. I could always be outwardly genial but I was quietly uncomfortable when I spoke with them. I just didn’t know what to do. I think it was just growing up being constantly told not to be racist toward people of different ethnicities instead of being told how to be their friend. I knew what I was not supposed to do. And there were a lot of things I was very good at not saying, but that didn’t help me with my interviews because now I actually had to do something.
I had to interview them.
I had to talk.
And it turned out to not be so hard.
In fact, that’s how I met Ennis. Ennis is a 50-year-old man who is going to the same university as I, who happened to live in a neighboring apartment complex. I spoke with him at times as he would pass me on the playground that sits between our two complexes. It was usually brief, but through that I found that we had a common background of having served in the military. I also found that he was quite pleasant, very smart, and fun to talk with.
But the most revealing thing for me was when I got the chance to interview him for a piece written for Voices of Utah about University of Utah student innovators. During the course of the interview he mentioned something that floored me. He said I was the only person who had come to visit him in the entire time that he had been there. This deeply upset me. By this time I had known him for several months and knew there was not a reason to not like him and to not be neighborly. In addition, there were many other of my white friends whom I considered very extroverted. Were they just like me, only being friendly to those who they most easily identified with?
I don’t know.
But it made me wonder if in a world obsessed with political correctness defined by copious checklists of things not to do, maybe we focus on our to-do list more.
And the first thing on mine?
Be good to my neighbors.
I am currently a student at the University of Utah studying Chinese and employed as a member of the Utah Army National Guard.
I earned a Bachelor’s of Science from Brigham Young University-Idaho in University Studies with an emphasis in Military Science.
My experience in the Army National Guard has allowed me opportunities to build small-group leadership experience. It allowed me to organize and conduct small and large group training sessions; practice accountability for personnel and equipment; support, follow and implement the policies of officers; suggest and implement forward-thinking and pro-active policies; and to practice maturity, leadership and professionalism.
My experience as a student journalist has helped hone these skills and expand my vision.