Acquired Taste

“At the rate it’s going, it’s going to take a long time for us to see true equality. But we’ll get there one day, hopefully.”
This was the conclusion of a 32-minute conversation I had with Kellyn McCarter, ‘16. The goal was fairly simple: explore what four years of undergrad had taught her about herself and the world. Initially a psychology major determined to be a clinical therapist, she took an Intro to Sociology course with sociology professor Brooke Wagner.
“I fell in love with the way she talked about all these issues, and I was like, I didn’t realize the world was this bad; I’ve been living in my own little bubble,” McCarter said. That year, she declared a Sociology major and took another soc class in penology, where she read Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow.”
“I didn’t realize the extent to which our criminal justice system was fucked up,” McCarter said. Her life pivoted with three concurrent events: the concern of her best friend, a black male, about “becoming just another a statistic;” reading “The New Jim Crow” and Darren Wilson’s avoiding charges in the Michael Brown case.
“I just started bawling because it’s like this is so real. He murdered someone for no reason except he was scared. And why was he scared? Because society likes to paint this picture of black men being dangerous.” This changed what she wanted to do completely.
“If I go to grad school, I’m going for sociology or criminology because I just want to fix that,” she said.
When asked what she thinks the world needs, she said, “The world needs to stop saying racism doesn’t exist, and people need to know your individual feelings about a given topic are not indicative of the overall happenings.”
When speaking about what makes a home, she said, “This whole idea of equality . . . actual equality, where I don’t have white privilege . . . not even just race but across the board . . . gender.
“We need an education where we acknowledge the issues . . . In high school, we never covered what’s wrong with society. I think our public schools fail us in that they don’t teach us what we need to know about our society.”
One sociological term is ‘socially created,’ which is to say culture and social structure are invented by the people. So, things as they are now are not necessarily the result of nature, to say culture and social structure — the world — is at our hands for reinventing. This column is for thinking about the world we would make in hopes that we would move toward it. So come, share your ideas with the rest of the Witt community. Nothing is forbidden. The interviews will be recorded and eventually linked to a podcast series. What does the world need? What do you need to feel at home in the world? And, what’s the next step?

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