Accepting the Role of Citizenship
by Brandy Luce
In Obama’s farewell speech he challenged us to “accept the role of citizenship”. This made me examine myself and ask, what is my role as a citizen? At the most basic level, I think it is to pay my taxes, vote, and contribute to the workforce and economy. Far too often this is the measure that many of us, including myself, hold ourselves accountable for our citizenship. As I celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this past week I realized that I have been taking my role of citizenship for granted and not fully embracing the true meaning of this role. For me, to accept this role means to be diligently informed of what’s happening in my neighborhoods and communities, and state and federal government. It is the responsibility to actively defend everyone’s civil rights. To prioritize my communities’ needs over my own. To be mindful of how our decisions and actions affect the future generations. For me, at the core of better embracing this role of citizenship means to strive to be a better person and make those around me better every day.
As a designer, it is in my nature to try and make “things” better, but I often overlook how we can make each other better. I believe that one of Dr. King’s greatest contributions was his ability to challenge us to not accept a standard belief that something is good enough. He showed us how to come together and dream of a better world including better versions of ourselves. He continues to motivate us to go out and fight and work towards making major changes in order to make our dreams a reality. In his last speech before he was assassinated, he said these words “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
The past few years have been a time of changes and transitions for me, which have given me opportunities for self-reflection and discovery. It all started with a move from Nebraska to North Carolina to attend NCSU for graduate school. The move opened my eyes to new cultures and experiences. My time at NCSU challenged my knowledge and perspective on design and education. After graduation my journey has continued at Student U which has already changed my outlook on the systems that surround me everyday and how I perceive my role within those systems. I have become more aware of a much larger moment of change happening now. As we all go through this time of leadership transition I believe it is an opportunity for even more reflection and dreaming.
I have challenged myself and will challenge those around me to accept our roles of citizenship and to make your surroundings better and to dream bigger! Not only during this time of transition when some things can be uncomfortable and painful, but throughout each and every day. I will continue to teach our children how to be kind, mindful, and encourage them to solve extraordinary problems. I will strive to be bold and take action in making our world better. Not just for me, but for all of us.