Solidarity Cabinet

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Erica Heller

Graduation Year: 2014

Hometown: Kalamazoo, MI

Major: English: Creative Writing concentration

Why Solidarity? For most of my life I believed that since I was white, I wasn’t or couldn’t be a part of the discussion of racial, ethnic, or cultural issues. I felt discouraged from talking about it because I benefitted from white privilege (which I do--I can’t not) or because I wasn’t a victim or because I was a part of the majority and therefore my voice had been heard enough. About a year ago, I realized that I, like minorities, should not be and am not defined by a single story. Though I am white and do benefit from white privilege, I am a multidimensional individual who has been hurt as much as hurt others on the topics of race, ethnicity, and culture. Being a part of Solidarity for me is an assertion for myself that I am valuable and relevant to this topic and also an opportunity to learn more about it since I still have much more to growing.

If someone was just starting to think about issues of race, what advice would you give them? First of all, awesome! It’s a subject a lot of people find too awkward or touchy to attempt to move towards, but it is definitely an awesome journey. The best thing I can say is that it will be normal to hurt while discovering more things, so don’t back away when the pain comes. Sort of like when we start to become aware of the prevalence of sin in our lives, we go through a pain and mourning period where it’s overwhelming to see the truth. Still, take it one step at a time. It’s not up to you to fix the world, but your pursuit to understand these issues and how to achieve reconciliation can change one very important thing: you.

When you’re not studying or working on projects, where can we find you on campus? When it’s nice outside, I love to read and talk while sitting on the grass or benches. I am also often in the SRC or library.

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