By Stephanie Burton
On May 6, I began a journey of self exploration. In ten short days (that’s the power of this trip), I learned to soak up information, to dissect it in agonizing detail and to formulate new ideas, new questions. I’ve asked “how” and “why” several times along the way, becoming so thirsty for knowledge that I HAD to grab a notepad to keep it all together. Back, forth, up, down; the pen would not stop moving! One notepad led to two notepads, and so on and so on.
Now that the trip is over, I’m left with four notepads and a powerful assignment: to find the answers to my scribbling.
Each question stemmed from a conversation that I had with the people who were taking the journey with me—39 other students, members of the press, and the original Freedom Riders. I’m truly thankful for such an eye-opening experience. Thank you to everyone who uttered a word my way; you have left an imprint in my mental psyche forever.
Listed below are my top 11 questions:
1. Why do we give others the privilege of interpreting the bible for us? If we took each phrase in the bible literally, would we all be dead? Are there people out there who live out the principles of the bible word for word?
2. Bless the child that has its own. Why don’t I have an entrepreneurial spirit?
3. Why is yesterday the 1st time that I’ve had a deep, spiritual connection with a person outside of my race?
4. Someone said that the “Save the Children” commercials exploit kids because they find the most poverty-stricken kid to talk on camera, which causes the viewer to make generalizations about the entire impoverished group. But if even ONE kid is living so poorly, isn’t it still important?
5. Does PR have a place in advocacy work? If so, what is the limit?
6. Do introverted people ever make a notable contribution to society… famous introverts?
7. Why does it feel so good to tell your story? And if it’s simply about telling your story, why do we get mad when the paper doesn’t print all of our quotes or everything we said?
8. Am I supporting segregation by going to an HBCU (Historically Black College)? But what is the alternative? What college has diversity all across the board—gender, race, sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc?
9. Why didn’t the International Civil Rights Museum have an exhibit on American Indians’ struggle in the U.S.?
10. Do I have conflicting narratives?
11. When is it okay to label an event a “celebration?” Can we truly “celebrate” a painful event, even if it is 50 years later (the bombing of the bus in Anniston, Alabama)?