On December 4th, I had the amazing opportunity to meet Deray McKesson when he came to speak at TCNJ. I acted as a fan girl not because I thought of him as a celebrity or someone who associated with really big names in Hollywood. I fangirled because he is someone that I look up to as a fellow activist and has been able to do so much in such a small amount of time. I started following his career when he first blew up with the Black Lives Matter movement in 2014, and I continued to watch his actions after that because I knew he was someone to watch, to be aware of. He is what everyone in college who strives to be an activist aims to achieve with their lives. It was truly an honor to be in the same room as him, let alone shake his hand, talk to him, and take a selfie with him.
In his speech, he talked about a variety of topics including BLM, mass incarceration, the wealth gap, Trump, and inclusion. His thoughts and experiences on things were interesting and enlightening. He was able to expand my way of thinking. He talked a good amount about white privilege, which of course I am very well aware of, but he talked about even the minor ways that it exists. When people talk about a person, people automatically picture that person as white, unless someone says Asian, African American, or Indian. He said that is privilege, and he is right. There are such tiny everyday things that add up to make white privilege, and there are even more than most people think. That was very helpful to me because now that I am aware, I can catch myself from doing it and make sure other people are also aware of it.
There were so many other important things that he talked about. Some were new ideas, and others I had heard before. What was really cool about it was hearing these ideas from someone I had looked up to for a while now. I have always enjoyed hearing from people that inspire me because they give me hope for the future and remind myself that I can make changes too. Getting to meet and talk to Deray was just an added bonus this time because he told me that I was going to be a "dope" lawyer and that people are always looking for someone to defend them. There is nothing more inspirational than to hear someone who you aspire to be like tell you that you are going to do a great job in what you want to do and that it will be meaningful. I appreciated his comment to no end, because I was really starting to get nervous that I might not accomplish anything as a civil rights attorney, but to hear someone that speaks with people that have had their civil rights trampled on say that that job is important was all I needed to have my faith restored. I will forever be grateful to Deray for that.