My name is Jimmy Underwood. Brace yourself...I'm a white, straight, cisgender male. There, I said it. And those are just a few of my hundreds of identities. I didn’t ask for it; I was born privileged, handed the freedom to live openly and in safety. As a result, at times I’ve felt lucky, and at other times I’ve felt guilty. But most of my life has been spent blissfully ignoring it all.
Recently, a friend gave me a copy of fellow Jacksonian Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. It punched me in the gut, but it also encouraged me to take action, using my privilege to hopefully help create a more supportive community for minority students. We now have this website/blog (www.possibilists.com) and a school newspaper column promoting equity and inclusion. Additionally, I hope to engage the Global Leadership Institute at my school to enact a long-term initiative promoting cultural awareness and tolerance. I also look forward to working with peers to write our school’s first Diversity Mission Statement.
We can continue leading lives of blissful privilege, or we can engage with our various identities. We can have conversations that expose vulnerability, pose questions, and find answers about ourselves and others. We can challenge, learn, develop empathy, evolve. I’ve wanted to change but haven’t known how. So I ask, I search. And I move forward, eyes and ears open, hoping to leave the places I go better than before I arrived.