As a woman of color, it’s not an uncommon experience for me to be constantly told that I don’t know what I’m talking about or to always be spoken over when I use my voice.
I grew up in a household that encouraged ignorance when it came to the world. The environment of my youth made me naive in regards to the realities of the world around me. I never knew the potential I had to make a difference in such a world.
However, during my high school years, I delved into the world of public speaking and discovered a stage — a platform where my voice was not just heard but demanded to be listened to. Public speaking became my way of advocating for myself and for the issues that resonated deeply with me.
When I embarked on my college journey, I began to familiarize myself with many of the issues I had known very little about in high school. I learned so much more about the political, social, and economic state of the world. I had the privilege of meeting people who introduced me to these spheres, opening my eyes to the significance of becoming a student activist. I learned about the importance of diversifying my sources, meticulously fact-checking my information, not letting mainstream media dictate my beliefs, and, above all, following my heart.
Through this I found myself realizing that there’s more than just one way I as an individual can bring about more attention to certain issues, and founded an organization on campus, ROCTalks. It aims to gather people with common interests, along with diverse views, and present them a stage to share their ideas, beliefs, and experiences without judgment and with an opportunity to learn more.
I began speaking up for the issues that were important to me. I began raising awareness on social media. I engaged in thought-provoking discussions in my classes. I tried my best to let my voice be heard. Through this, I realized the profound importance of being brave enough to use the voices we possess. It is so easy for people to dismiss the idea that a single voice can change the world or address the global challenges we face. Yet, a single voice can make those around us pause and reconsider our beliefs, particularly if they hold differing views. Even a single voice matters.
In my personal journey, I’ve engaged in numerous debates with family members who were not well-informed about various issues. While there were instances where I was humbled and learned more about a situation than I expected, there were also moments when my voice compelled someone to reevaluate their stance. As Martin Luther King Jr. profoundly stated, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
There is always something worth speaking about, whether it pertains to issues within our own nation or those across the globe. Our world is far from perfect, and it never will be. Being afraid to let your voice be heard is equivalent to accepting the notion that you don’t believe in the importance of that idea. So, let your voice be a beacon of change, because, as history has shown, even a single voice can inspire a chorus of transformation.