Tales From a Black Filled Childhood: How I Became an Upstander
I faced history one day and found myself. I was once a 14 year old boy introduced into a program that would change my life forever. My first experience was with a Holocaust survivor named Max Edelman back when I was in 9th grade. I can still hear his voice ringing in my ear as I remember him stating that, when he was in the work camps he use to wonder “does that world care?”, arriving on the negative side of this question. Listening to him made me look within myself, realizing that I was guilty of the same feat. I use to not care. In middle school I was known as the class bully, taking my title too far at times. But I faced history one day and found myself.
In my ninth grade year I began believing that good things don’t come to inner city schools. However, when my teacher Mrs.Urogdy offered her classes to sign up for this new Facing History Course and to this day I know it was no coincidence that I seized theOpportunity.
The Facing History class had a very wide variety of topics. We had discussions using history to learn about our identity, making choices, choosing to participate in the society we live in. My favorite session was when we talked about our universe of obligation; given to the circle of individuals and groups “towards whom obligations are owed, to whom rules apply, and whose injuries call for amends.” Encouraging us as human beings not to only be concerned with ourselves, but to be concerned with the people around us, those who are marginalized far and wide and those who are silenced by a world where privilege seeks to muffle the voices of the oppressed.
In high school I began to examine myself and realized that the “universe of obligation” concept, calls you to much more than caring for yourself and the people you interact with around you. It calls for you to expand your obligations and to care for the many hurting people in the world. It calls for you to do something about the many dying in third world countries and from violence in our own neighborhoods. It calls you to take action when you see something wrong with the environment that we live in. And it called for me to give up my attitude of not caring and adopt one of a grater calling. An attitude that will inevitably change the world for good in one-way or another.
I faced history one day and found myself. When I did this I learned that many people are given the opportunity to stand up and do something about the wrongs that fill this world and how most choose to stand by and watch, hoping someone else will solve the problems, as many of us fall into our passive paradigms. I am now dedicated to standing up and never fitting into a category of witnessing oppression without actively and vigorously fighting against it.