An Unfortunate Truth

Posted on: July 25th, 2012
By Matt Razek
Class of 2013

“Mommy, can I try some of those chocolate people?” A mere two to three years old and having no sense of what he just said. His parents laughing in the background … though you could tell, from a distance, that they did not know how to address their son’s inquiry other than “laugh it off.” Though this white child had no idea of the ignorance of his statement, he may very well have been me. Growing up, I lived in a primarily white neighborhood and attended a Catholic grade school that was not a very diverse community. I may have heard of the word social justice but I sure did not know what it meant.
As I moved on to attend an all-boys Jesuit Catholic high school, my knowledge of things social justice started to improve. The Jesuits are very much focused on issues of social justice and devoted to those who are less fortunate, be they homeless or trying to raise a family with a declining economy. My high school offered many services and programs that I participated in. I thought I was doing something great. However, I would soon find out that I was less than well educated on issues of social justice.
I came to Loyola very interested in getting involved in a variety of organizations. I went through my freshman year hearing terms I had not really heard before or knew what they meant: first generation, ally, LGBTQI, the difference between sex and gender, etc. In fact, I don’t even know that I could have given you an accurate definition of what “social justice” meant. It was not until sophomore year that my supervisor in Residence Life really challenged me to accept my ignorance and educate myself. I had conversations that made me uncomfortable. However, I embraced this challenge; and it wasn’t until this point that I finally started to understand social justice and diversity and wanted to do what I could to support the rights and access to resources and opportunities for all people, no matter their background or social identity.
As I started to educate myself, I began to feel comfortable enough to talk with individuals about social justice and diversity issues. I joined the Men’s Project this past January. The Men’s Project is a leadership initiative looking to redefine manhood in an effort to alleviate suffering from issues related to violence in our communities. Challenging conversations were had during our weekly meetings, and I won’t lie to you – I was definitely struggling to open up, but I definitely grew a lot through this initiative.
My point? Everyone, no matter how they grew up or the schools that attended, are at different stages of social justice knowledge as they enter college. Instead of putting off educating yourself, like I did, jump right in and embrace the diversity and the differences of everyone around you. Loyola, and the faculty, staff, and students that go here have taught me so much in the last three years. The unfortunate truth is that it took me 19 years to finally know. The fortunate truth is that I have the rest of my life to be an ally for others and to utilize the societal privilege’s I have as a straight, white, male to help others on their journeys!

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