Justice and Awareness

First order of business: Ferguson Shooting
I’m really trying to separate myself from this discussion. I realize that some of this separation comes off as me looking like a stuck-up bitch, some may come off as me looking like I’m better than that, and to some it may even look like ignorance. But here’s the truth: I’m sick of people pointing out our differences

When I got home yesterday evening a middle-aged white male stopped me on the steps outside my building to “express solidarity” with me. My head was spinning, I have never seen this man before, I’m not even sure if he lives in my building or if he was visiting someone in my building. I appreciated him being vocal about his feelings because ultimately that’s what it’s going to take to quiet the people who breath injustice. However, if I had been any other color, this conversation would never have happened and that strikes me as a problem.

I was at an orientation yesterday afternoon and I was sitting at a table with 5 other people, all of us from different locations both around the country and around the world. However, I picked up more on how crazy it was that there were only 6 of us sitting around this table and every one of us found something we had in common with someone else. We are all connected and there’s no reason that we need to separate ourselves based on where we were born. Why does it matter? I understand that regional differences have a large affect on people’s attitudes, but if we’re ever going to breach those differences, we need to stop focusing on how we’re different and focus on how we’re similar.

So, since I bolded “Ferguson Shooting” I will say a piece on that before I digress. I think the loudest, largest question surrounding this event is “why did it happen?” This question is the exact reason I want to separate myself from the discussion. It doesn’t matter why anymore because it happened. A tragedy has occurred and what caused the tragedy is a matter for the justice system. As the general public, whether we are inside or outside that community, the question we need to worry about is: “what are we going to do about it?” It’s over, it’s done with. How do we prevent it from happening again? How do we minimize the outcry that comes in the wake of a tragedy? When I look back to other tragedies that faced this nation in recent years, I can’t find much in my memories regarding what we did to make the situation better. I can’t remember how I came together with my community except September 11. The only exception to this was the Purdue shooting last winter, and I have never needed to wonder if I would have felt a sense of community if I didn’t know the victim. I wouldn’t have.

We need to figure out how we can come together, overcome our differences, be bigger people who don’t see ethnicity, race, color, gender, profession, etc. in order to eliminate these tragedies and that is the only thing that matters to me at this point in the discussion.

Second order of business: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
I have seen a lot of skepticism on my Facebook page surrounding the ALS Ice bucket challenge in addition to a lot of people accepting the challenge. The one thing I have been most impressed with is the few people who have come out and said they’ve researched other organizations in their communities as well or they donated to a community that was already important to them, but not one they actively supported. So let’s talk about the challenge, ALS and charities.

The Challenge (http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/ice-bucket-challenge.html): The ice bucket challenge was started to raise awareness about the disease and money for the ALS Association The organization has reported that funds have greatly increased in response to this challenge which is absolutely amazing. It is remarkable how what seems like a social media craze can also generate positive results for a lot of people.

ALS: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has never gotten the attention it deserves as a disease. A lot of people know it as Lou Gehrig’s disease and my love for baseball is in fact what introduced me to the disease. It doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s a horrible degenerative disease that not nearly enough people know anything about. This is why I’m happy to see the ice bucket challenge spreading whether people are donating or not. The act of sharing your story and challenge and spreading that forward to other people helps it reach the right people who will donate for the right reasons and that is what needs to happen.

Back when I wrote fiction more frequently, I did start a short story on ALS because I felt that awareness needed to increase. I looked back through my computer files today to see just how long ago that was and see how far I got. The file was created in November 2007. This is completely insignificant except to say that if I recognized that long ago that this disease needed attention, why did it take skepticism over a challenge created to increase awareness to remind me that it existed? I stopped writing that story because I didn’t know enough about ALS. I did my research and I still didn’t understand what it could do to people. And therefore, I think it’s important that no matter what challenges fall into our laps or what diseases hit close to home, we take the time to not only understand what the acronym means, and what the disease does to its victims but what the disease does to those who care for a victim.

Charities: I am a person who donates to several charities that have hit close to home every year around Christmas time. I don’t give a lot, but I do give something. However, seeing this challenge sweep the social media scene has made me wonder if I should be more public about my donations. I am a private person and I donate to these charities because it means something to me not because I need it to mean something to others. But now, as I look at what a difference awareness makes I’ve started wondering if I should spend more time advocating on these organizations’ behalf in order to raise awareness and really make a difference. After giving it some thought I have decided that I will. So, I’m going to start a new blog page devoted specifically to raising awareness about organizations that I am currently or have been a part of, and charities that I actively donate to as well as others I choose.

The link for my new page is: http://raisingawareness1.wordpress.com/. I hope to get it up and running over the weekend.



Published by She Got The PhD

A web-based soapbox of an Assistant Professor of color in Chemical Engineering; sharing my feelings on books, academia, and current events. I hope you enjoy reading :)

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