What Can I Do?

Photo by Tim Dennell on Flickr. License.

You might hear, “The personal is political.” I have not always been conscious of this… Is it a battle for you too?

For me, I usually focus on the person over society. Are they good or bad? Not the larger picture – that is honestly intimidating.

The inner and interpersonal work you can do to be non- or anti-racist is important. But I was oblivious to how large institutions are so significant! Learning the history of school, health care, policy, and all the things we might not identify with, but certainly is a part of us, pushed me to join this program.

The transition from home to Duke was huge for my awareness.

Growing up I did not think about my culture, especially my dad’s African American side. I can remember first starting to feel torn in high school, like I have not been able to embrace that side of me. I have  even avoided parts of me because I was confused or in an environment that made me uncomfortable with it.

I would not consider it an identity crisis, just contemplation these last few years: ‘Why do I feel this way?’ or ‘How did this affect me?’

Especially the culmination of going through the college application process, starting my first few classes at Duke, and gaining independence all lead me to be more curious about myself. The last year or so have been really influential in how I perceive myself. Affirming my feelings helped me mentally attack the larger structures in society that shape us. The systems that are life-support for injustice.

Photo by James Eades on Unsplash

I find it overwhelming to adjust my focus from myself or just one friend of mine to everything and everyone around. However, it is worth struggling to dismantle racism. And finding people that help you through this, support you and challenge you, is necessary.

I am pushing past recognizing how I feel, and into other people’s walks through life. What can we do in this larger sphere? How can me and you have an impact?

Racism is complicated. There are complex connections between the past and present, the public and intimate.

All of us will have distress, those who experience racism, ignore it, admit it, and try to dismantle it. Disagreements are inevitable and necessary!

I am hoping to become more comfortable with discussions around social justice. Perhaps it is not about being comfortable but a willingness to be uncomfortable. I want to stir conversations back home, then go past talk in my town to enact change. I am counting on a forceful learning experience from this fellowship.

Allison Falls is a first-year student from Richlands, North Carolina, intending to major in Biology. She is passionate about the cross-section of medicine and racial justice. She is involved with Duke LIFE, the Cardea Fellows Program for students pursuing a health-related career, and Camp Kesem, a group that supports children through and beyond their parent’s cancer.

All posts by