Here are the remarks made by Anthony Abron ’14 at the April 7 Diversity Assembly.
So you all just saw what happened. An example of racism that happens everyday was highlighted by one TV show. The people who spoke against the hateful words being said by the hairdresser didn’t need to know that the camera was on in order to step up and be the Good Samaritan. This is a good example of how we all should be. When we see examples of bullying or hate speech, it is our duty to step up and say something. For if we don’t, are we being true disciples of Christ?
Racism, discrimination for whatever purpose, and bullying all boil down to one thing: disrespect for God’s greatest gift to us. That gift is human dignity. We are all created in the image and likeness of God. We are all equal in his eyes. No one race is better than the other. Being a member of a different political party than someone else doesn’t make you better than them. Athleticism is not greater than artistic talent and vice versa.
To this point, I have assumed that you all are not the ones creating and fostering the awful behaviors that I have highlighted above. But I know that isn’t true. In my experience I hear and see evil often during day. It sometimes feels like the “N” word is used like it is the only word in the dictionary. Too frequently I see teachers being disrespected daily, to the point that if I were some of them, I would find it hard to work here anymore. Being disrespectful of the teachers is a reflection of you, the student who is being disrespectful, not the teacher.
This all boils down to one point. At Malvern we are not doing such a great job of demonstrating and living a culture of openness and acceptance. Not even tolerance. There is often a “if you’re not like me, we can’t be friends” mentality. I know this is not everyone, but in my experience, there is a large number of students who do act this way. We talk a lot about Brotherhood here at Malvern. It is one of the strongest parts of our identity – however, we need to ask ourselves, are we truly living up the the ideal of brotherhood if we are not accepting of others, most especially others who are different? Are we truly living up the ideal of brotherhood if we use hurtful words without any thought of how these words may impact another? Are we truly living up to the ideal of brotherhood if we are not being respectful of others, our peers, teachers, staff, administrators? This day is shaped to really help us build on something we say 10 times a day.
If we want to eradicate hate and disrespect in our school and in our world, it all starts with accepting the fact that no one person is better than the other. The only person that walked this Earth who was better than all of us was Jesus, and he’s not here anymore. Get over yourselves. You’re not the best new thing since sliced bread.
My pastor has this saying, that when God made him, he was having a good day. The truth is that when God made all of us, he was having a remarkable day. For God, put in all of us a little bit of himself, and that is what makes each of us special.
Now, don’t think I’m not thinking of myself as I’m talking to you. I know I say some stupid things (just ask my 4th period AP Government class), but at the end of the day, when you know you have made a mistake, and are man or woman enough to apologize, that’s when we are all growing spiritually.
I am only going to use one statistic with you and it should be enough to hit home about how much bullying affects our society. You will see this statistic on one of the posters around our beautiful campus. 4,400 teenagers commit suicide a year because of bullying.
Malvern, that’s 4,400 too many.
Our words do matter. There’s an old saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Well, that certainly was not the case for those 4,400 people. And no, these teens weren’t soft, or acting like girls. Someone’s actions took a toll on them, so hard that they felt the need to end their own life.
If someone was bullying you (and we all know that there is all types of bullying), would you want your friends, or even strangers to say, ‘wait, that’s not the right thing to do’? I would hope that you would. This means that when you see bullying happening to other people, you have to stand up for what’s right and stop it. I know the word, bullying, creates a negative reaction in a lot of us. Let’s not think only of bullying, but more specifically about the words we use that are judgmental, hurtful, and/or disrespectful. We need to stand up in these situations as well. In the video clip, the hairdresser may not be seen as bullying – she was just loudly speaking her opinion and making a judgments about people. Her words were clearly hurtful.
This year I am not asking anyone to be silent, to commemorate those that have experienced bullying, discrimination, and hurtful words. I am challenging you to do the exact opposite. I want you to speak up. Words are important, and if they are used for good, they are even more important.
During these last few days on campus before we leave for Spring Break, I challenge you to be aware of the words you are using. I also challenge you to speak up when you hear someone else saying something hurtful.