I have been involved in a speech in debate program for 5 years now (4 years in high school and 1 in college), so I have been surrounded by intelligent kids questioning, arguing, and persuading others to see things in a different light. This is also where I saw the most diversity. Being a kid who grew up in the mid west, the only time I saw a ton of different cultures was when I was traveling to different states and competing. While politics and other social issues are often used in the debate realm, racism is also talked about quite frequently.
If you don’t know a lot about speech and debate, then you should know, speech also includes Acting and Interpretation events where a student takes a book, play, or other literature and performs it competitively. Imagine cutting the best parts out of a book and mashing it together into a 10 minute performance. Usually these stories have some kind of societal lesson or relevance that leaves the audience with something to take away. Being that speech has a widening array of different students joining it, you see many people finding stories that they can relate to and connect with. This has lead to me watching tons of different stories about people of all colors and backgrounds.
These have lead to some really eye opening and amazing performances. it gives students the ability to become whatever story they felt moved by. What better way to have kids connect with literature then to have them perform it and become it. As I competed in this organization, I saw countless pieces about the struggles that African American’s, Latino American’s, ect, all went through.
One of my teammates (who was a white female) decided to do a piece about how we are still struggling to have civil rights be truly equal, especially in the education system. One of the pieces of literature she used was Martin Luther Kings “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” She spent days listening to how he spoke and watching how he held himself. Amazingly, she could do a flawless Martin Luther King impression for her performance. However, when she performed her piece, she had some judges say that she was “too white” to give voice to MLK.
I found this funny, because this implies that being African American would have given her the right to act like MLK and argue civil rights. So I wonder, how much of a voice do Caucasians really have when it comes to the race talking table? When I hear the word “race” I don’t think of white, I think of anything but white, and I know that I am not the only one.
When I watch pieces about segregation, or racism, I feel like I fight against it, I feel like if I saw someone do something against someone else because of their race, I would stand up and stop it, but do other people look at me and think I would?
We need to stop making racism a “colored issue.” (I hate saying colored) As cliché as it sounds, this is everyone’s issue.