This article was originally published on NisonCo, and appears here with permission.
I didn’t care about politics. I didn’t feel a need to get involved with the problems of the world. Afterall, weren’t my own problems enough? That all changed in early 2015 when I went through some big transitions in my life. I transferred to the University of Rhode Island where I picked up sociology as a major, and I joined Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). Sociology opened me up to all of the inequalities that exist across the world. The classes and texts opened up my eyes to a world of struggles that folks face, from economical challenges to racial issues and more. They also taught me what privilege is, including the privileges I have in American society as a white woman.
I learned an overwhelming amount of information about the inner workings of American society. Thanks to my teachings in sociology and my participation in SSDP, I began to truly understand the impacts of internalized beliefs that are deeply ingrained in our society. Inequality exists in everything that we do. It exists in our trips to the grocery store by what we’re able to put in our carts. It exists at our high schools, made visible by the amount of police present. These inequalities completely shape our experiences and our lives.
Now that I had access to all of this information, I needed to do something. I needed to help people to be able to access the information that I had access to since I had the privilege of going to college, becoming a sociology major, and having the time to join an extracurricular activity.
I decided to become an advocate. Advocacy breaks down barriers. It helps us to stand in solidarity with groups of people who are historically shamed, stigmatized, or otherwise marginalized members of society. Advocacy elevates voices of people who deserve to be heard. It demonstrates that we are a collective that is focused on supporting fellow human beings. Becoming an advocate is not easy. It requires intense focus and a willingness to unlearn ideas that you were taught your entire life.
I spent countless hours during my time at college learning about how …