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MIT student blogger Abby H. '20

Parting Remarks Part II: The Blogger Bio That Was by Abby H. '20

I just graduated!

The original premise for this blog post was that I would dissect the bio/about section of my blogger profile, which I wrote in either August or September of 2016. I thought, in the style of my last blog post, I would write some snappy lines about how my bio no longer captures how I would reply to the prompt “Tell me about yourself.” The title and subtitle reflect the subject and tone I was going for.

But I couldn’t bring myself to write that post today.01 I apologize if any of these thoughts feel unorganized, my brain is unorganized right now. There are huge protests happening across the US, as I’m sure you’ve heard. I woke up to a video of a black CNN reporter and his team being arrested for no discernible reason. I sat through online commencement, checking my phone for updates the whole time. I saw fires burning and rubber bullets and tasers and milk poured into burning eyes. Then I saw some people just… tweeting about croissants and summer vibes. And I thought, are they unaware or do they just not care? All things considered, this is a bad time to write about me.

Instead, I encourage you to listen to this speech from the president of the MIT Class of 2020, Nacho Nwana. Though it’s been a long ten days since the video was posted, it encapsulates a lot of the frustration and hopelessness that many 2020s are feeling right now. This class has been through a lot. In 2016, many of us voted in our first presidential election, the results of which were shocking02 There are several ways to interpret this word, and I mean each of them; I don't remember talking to anyone who wasn't at least a little <em>surprised</em> at the outcome. and continue to influence the current state of affairs. We are now graduating into a pandemic, a recession,03 though some are predicting it may be closer to a depression another contentious election, climate crisis, and a world where people have begun to take matters into their own hands after decades of protest and insufficient change. It is not easy to look at this world and smile and listen to the glittering generalities that seem to frame every commencement speech: We’re counting on you! You are the next generation of global leaders! Our best and brightest! Go change the world! In contrast to those vague calls to even vaguer actions, Nacho ends his speech with a charge to FIX the world. Right now that looks like an insurmountable goal, but what do we have to lose by striving for it? And we have everything to gain.

Additionally, I want remind to you that you need to be listening to what black people have to say, what they’ve been saying this whole time. The world does not need my virtue-signalling-white-girl think pieces04 and I see the irony here on this topic; there are plenty of those to go around and all of them lack the lived experience necessary to have the prerequisite understanding of the context. There are links to blog posts that were shared in yesterday’s post on George Floyd and Minneapolis, if you want to hear from our very own bloggers. The scary thing about these posts is how they continue to ring true from years ago to just three weeks ago. Their words are timeless05 Timelessness that I cannot reproduce right now; I am typing this at 2 in the morning on May 30, and there will without a doubt be shocking new developments between now and the time you are reading this. in a sickening way, and we need to change that. We have everything to gain from fixing this reality.

The world is so much bigger than your hometown, your high school, and the colleges you might attend. The task ahead of us is even bigger, and honestly, it can be hard to tell where to start.

I spent a couple of hours this evening searching “Birmingham” on Twitter to see if there was anything happening locally, any bail funds I needed to contribute to, any people making specific requests for supplies, or just any familiar faces. Growing up, I was taught that faith without works is dead.06 James 2:26 The adage followed me to MIT, where it took the form of Mens et Manus. Of course, the former refers to faith in God, and the latter refers to the intertwined nature of science and engineering. But the core message is the same: one must think and do. In this case, one can (and should) think hard about the problems, one can (and should) align oneself with a marginalized group, one can (and should) send thoughts and prayers, but action, informed by all that faith and science, is what actually fixes things.

What actions07 I'm not saying here that all of you should be out on the front lines of the nearest protest. Some of you have been there and will be there in the future. Others will find equally important ways to translate their skills and talents into action, be it through material support, organizing, entering politics or whatever role is most natural for you. can you take to make the world better, or less worse, or kinder, or less dangerous for fellow humans?

 

EDIT (6/1): Go read Veronica’s post here!

  1. I apologize if any of these thoughts feel unorganized, my brain is unorganized right now. back to text
  2. There are several ways to interpret this word, and I mean each of them; I don't remember talking to anyone who wasn't at least a little surprised at the outcome. back to text
  3. though some are predicting it may be closer to a depression back to text
  4. and I see the irony here back to text
  5. Timelessness that I cannot reproduce right now; I am typing this at 2 in the morning on May 30, and there will without a doubt be shocking new developments between now and the time you are reading this. back to text
  6. James 2:26 back to text
  7. I'm not saying here that all of you should be out on the front lines of the nearest protest. Some of you have been there and will be there in the future. Others will find equally important ways to translate their skills and talents into action, be it through material support, organizing, entering politics or whatever role is most natural for you. back to text