BY NATHALIE HEWA DEWAGE
Last Friday, I gave a speech in the forum as part of the Black History Month opening ceremony. So did my friends. The response we got was polarized. Many people applauded us but there was some push-back. It was a little disheartening, though still expected. Something a lot of people said was that we were overly negative, that we should not have focused on our negative experiences to the extent that we did. I have to wonder if those people had actually listened to what we had to say.
Going and putting yourself out there is extremely difficult. It takes a lot to be vulnerable to an audience you know is going to write you off anyway. Yet, we did it. Hannan did it. Phillip did it. Rama did it. Tayo did it. And it was important that they did. All our critics saw were the negatives, but all I saw were my brave, wonderful friends who had the courage to speak up for themselves and who encouraged me to do the same. For this I only have love and gratitude. So I’ll say this now: thank you Han, Rama, Tayo and Phillip. Thank you Cat, Soroush, Aislinn, Joel and Jude. To Feisal and the dean and all our lovely professors who showed their support. To all our allies. To the Diversity Working Group.
We can only make changes when we are together. When I spoke on Friday, I never once felt alone.