Just Listen

Louis Goffinet

When we started working on this issue, magazine production was business as usual, and the world felt somewhat normal. Of course, it wasn’t.

As Commander Alison (Laufer) Halpin ’05 (CLAS) at the CDC knew all too well, coronavirus was ready to explode across the country, shining a harsh light on the inequities and injustice that make “normal” so different depending on who you are and where you live.

A few short months later, on the day we go to press, Black Lives Matter protests rage across the country (an echo of many times, particularly the late ’60s), and I find myself trying to understand the level of vulnerability black people in this country feel while going about ordinary day-to-day activities. I try to understand the level of helplessness and abject fear a mother of a black child in this country today feels. Of course, I can’t know those feelings. All I can do is listen to those who do know and try to understand in an effort to effect change.

Listen the way public policy professor Thomas Craemer listened, growing up in Germany, to the stories of Holocaust survivors. Those stories inspired him to study political science and, recently, to calculate slavery reparations that “help us wrap our minds around the magnitude of the injustice”.

The way Louis Goffinet ’17 (CLAS) listened to his neighbors when they asked for his help in running errands, but whose stories revealed other needs, too, all of which he found ways to answer — and whose karma must be through the roof (pictured above).

The way Kelly Ha ’19 (BGS) listened to family and friends who won’t go out because they fear they’ll be harmed simply for being Asian, and who helped create a campaign to help the world see beyond color.

Like they did, we need to listen when our fellow humans tell us when they can’t work, when they can’t feed their families, when they can’t pursue their happiness — when they can’t breathe.

Lisa T. Stiepock


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