Embracing Difficult Conversations


Andre Louis Rocker, Staff Writer

For those who speak to me on a day-to-day basis or have classes with me, it is obvious that I enjoy having good conversations. I believe a good conversation has a balanced amount of speaking and listening. Since coming to Governor’s, I have had some interesting but also difficult conversations. While I enjoy engaging in these types of conversations, I also realize there are other people who do not enjoy them. 


Personality Traits. While Govs is a small school, there are people with different personalities. Everyone has different ways of expressing themselves. Some are outgoing and enjoy flaunting their ideas and beliefs—I believe I fall into this category. However, not everyone does. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are very quiet people. They either enjoy listening more or aren’t comfortable sharing their own opinions. It may be that there are more people closer to the quiet end of the spectrum. This is, of course, fine; they may not be as inclined to speak on certain topics. Not understanding, or not being educated on a subject, could be another reasonable explanation for not participating as much. I can understand someone just being a good listener and wanting to hear what others have to say.


Impertinence. It is no secret that many students seem to have blatantly paid no respect to the activities on MLK Day—either sleeping, talking to friends, or having their hood up with AirPods in. Many students can’t recall learning anything from that day. Some may feel uninterested in social justice topics, or think political or social conversations shouldn’t happen in school. Refusing to reflect on their own problems and even denying them in the first place, many students decided to hear what others were saying but did not really listen—in other words, reflecting and thinking about how words and ideas may or may not apply to your own life. Many students didn’t consider that while Govs—or the rest of the world—is fine for them, it isn’t for many others. 


Fear of Consequences. I have heard from many students that they would love to share their opinions but are afraid to because of potential consequences. They fear judgment from others and even possible punishment from the administration. Before I continue, I must make it clear that I am in no way advocating for hate speech in any way, shape, or form. As Destiny Gonzalez ’20 puts it: “Social and political viewpoints are two different things. You can still be a Republican without being racist, sexist, or homophobic.” It is also evident that you can not stop people from judging you. Whether it’s your style, your hobbies, or what you say, everyone has an opinion about you. People have different views and biases about me and I, in return, have different views and biases about them. While you can’t control what other people think, for those who are afraid of people thinking about you in a certain way, I suggest you learn to let go of that fear as it is out of your control. For those who are afraid of punishment from the administration, I do not believe there is any logical reason to be. Just because you support Trump, the Second Amendment, and may not support abortion, does not mean you will be asked to leave the academy. You would and should, however, be punished for racism, sexism, and homophobia. Those have nothing to do with being interested in politics and are instead characteristics of oneself. 


It’s important to engage in respectful conversations on campus. You have a voice for a reason. Whether you share opinions through speech, online platforms, or The Governor, it’s good to share your opinions with one another. ADL hosts many events that are gateways to great, meaningful discussions.  Whether or not you agree with another person, engage in a difficult conversation. The goal should not be to change one’s mind, but instead to get a different perspective on a certain topic.