Laverne Cox Tells SLU Students Her Story

Laverne Cox Tells SLU Students Her Story

SLU students gathered in the Center for Global Citizenship last Monday to hear Laverne speak.
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"I showed up to the GCG at like three o'clock and I ate at the cafe and did homework while I was waiting. I went so early because I love Laverne. She's one of my favorite activists and actresses," says SLU freshman Caroline Frick, who ended up getting a seat in the second row. "I love how she's changing society's views on certain issues from race to transgender awareness and feminism."

Huge banners near the Busch Student Center's entrance and small flyers in the residence halls had been up for weeks leading up to the event. Students knew that Laverne Cox was coming, and they had long awaited her arrival.

Doors were to open at 6:40 for the 7:00 appearance of Laverne Cox, a talented actress, advocate, and artist. The excitement and buzz among students was so elevated that they were arriving and sitting down on the floor of the Center for Global Citizenship hours before the event began.

Members of SLU's Rainbow Alliance executive board, Great Issues Committee, Black Student Alliance, and Una were the only ones allowed in the half of the CGC that Laverne would be speaking in. At 5:30, these group members gathered to set up and block off the entrances, preventing students from entering before 6:40.

(Rainbow Alliance executive board members before Laverne's arrival)

Finally, Laverne walked out onto the stage, a few minutes past 7:00, eliciting cheers and applause. The title of Laverne's speech was "Ain't I A Woman," inspired by Sojourner Truth's speech in 1851. Truth was one of many artists, speakers, writers, and advocates that Cox referenced during her own speech.

Though some members of the audience already had a grasp on this concept, Laverne Cox introduced intersectionality to the student body, defined by Wikipedia as "the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination or discrimination."

In Laverne's case, she discussed how her identity as a black, transgender woman contributes to her oppression in various ways.

"Seeing her and hearing her story expands our ideas that we exist outside of any singularities. We can understand that we are never defined by a single identity. We are our genders, our races, our sexual orientations, our romantic orientations, and more at the same time.Through a struggle, we can find ourselves," says Chad Maxwell, junior member of Rainbow Alliance e-board.

Though difficult, Laverne spoke of her childhood experiences of being outcast by classmates, disciplined by teachers for expression, and prohibited from being involved in ballet because it was "too gay," according to her mother. She continued by sharing her experiences as a young adult of being cat called, laughed at, and inaccurately called a man while walking down the street.

Senior Rainbow Alliance executive board member Summer Worthington says, "What I loved the most about Laverne's speech was that she didn't shy away from talking about difficult topics, especially ones that are controversial on a Catholic campus."

Laverne kept the speech light-hearted, and told the audience that sometimes we have to laugh at ourselves and what is said about us as a way of breaking down the power that our bullies and oppressors have. She often referenced that her mother was warned about the possibility of Laverne ending up in New York City wearing a dress. With a sassy flip of her hair, a glance down at her tight pink dress, and a smile on her face, Laverne laughed and shrugged, as a way of saying, "Well, look at me now."

SLU sophomore Brenna Campagna was also sitting in the second row during Laverne's speech, and was personally impacted by her words.
"More than anything, I appreciated and connected to Laverne's message about shame. She referenced Brené Brown, who happens to be my favorite author, which made me realize how deeply connected developing a personal identity and feeling personal shame can be. Too often, I think we become our own worst enemies and become terrified of being ourselves. Laverne reminded me that true love and acceptance from others begins with ourselves; if we don't believe we're worthy of love and belonging, we'll never accept it from others."

(A packed auditorium in anticipation of the presentation)

The enthusiasm, presence, and willingness to learn demonstrated by the general student body and members of the greater non-SLU community are a glimmer of hope for the very issues that Laverne Cox addressed during her speech. Once we can learn to respect, support, and become active with issues of social justice, we can really make a change in our community, and eventually in the world. As Laverne put it, "Justice is love in public."

In the Q and A segment that took place in the end of Laverne's speech, just past 8:00, it became clear that students on campus are incredibly passionate about the subjects that Laverne discussed. Much of what was asked related to how exactly students can get involved and help, what SLU needs to do to foster acceptance and understanding of others, and what governmental policies need to change in order to make a difference in the ever-present system of oppression. Laverne responded warmly to these questions, as they demonstrate hope for future generations and great potential for change.

"I'm glad I was able to listen to her story and hear her calls to action because I can be more supplemental in creating a safe space for others to express themselves in the way that they feel most comfortable,"
says sophomore Haileigh Armbrust.

Once the Q and A segment wrapped up and students began to exit, some stayed behind and had the opportunity to meet Laverne and take a photo with her. She was just as sweet one on one as she was during the presentation, as she greeted students warmly, and often with compliments. After two sessions of meet and greets, students filed out of the building, shortly followed by Laverne.

"I hope that Laverne's speech has taught SLU students to be more accepting and open minded to others who may have to take extra steps to becoming the person that they were meant to be,"
says senior Danielle Limia, who is studying Psychology, Women's and Gender Studies, and African American Studies.

Thank you to all of the student organizations that contributed to making this event happen, and of course, a huge thank you to Laverne for gracing SLU with her presence!


Cover Image Credit: Carolyn Calamia

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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The Democratic Enthusiasm Is Great, But They're Missing Something Crucial — Policy

The Democrats are more motivated than ever for 2020, but are they getting too carried away?

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The 2020 Democratic primary continues to become more up for grabs as we near closer and closer to the actual primaries themselves. From familiar faces such as Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden to newcomers to the presidential trail such as Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, Democratic-leaning voters have a wide array of candidates to choose from in order to defeat Donald Trump.

It's absolutely great seeing the Democratic base more energized than ever for the pending political circus next year. Beto O'Rourke, for example, seems to still have the enthusiasm that he picked up from his failed senatorial campaign in 2018. Moreover, it was also inspiring to see Pete Buttigieg kiss his husband on stage while proving that progressive politics can help even those in middle-class small towns like South Bend, Indiana.

All of this is great to see, but with all due respect to Beto, Mayor Pete, and perhaps nearly all of the other Democrats running: we know you want to fix Trump's mess, but how are you going to do it?

The 2020 election can genuinely make or break the state of progressive politics in the United States. With critical issues ranging from the Green New Deal, reparations for slavery, health care as a human right, and a $15 minimum wage, if candidates think gracing the covers of Vanity Fair and Vogue are doing the American people any good, then they are deeply mistaken.

Candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, so far, have been consistent in how they will specifically initiate the policy positions that they're undertaking. Of the 23 major candidates that have declared their candidacy, only 13 of them have policy pages on their campaign sites. You might say that it's too early in the campaign cycle for policy positions to be rolled out, but the fact of the matter is: Americans who are struggling to get by cannot wait.

The 2018 midterms have demonstrated that the American people want people in government that are willing to fight tooth and nail for them. Americans want people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib representing them and their interests.

We cannot succumb to the bad habit of gloating in our victories and pretend that our work is over. We may have severed one head of the corruption hydra, but we have many more heads to go.

So to all 2020 candidates, it's time to quit wasting time on PR stunts and thinking that your past or background will guarantee you victory. There's too much at stake — let's get to work.

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