Voices – 02/18/2021

Interview by Avary Hutzelman

Bethel Jegol – Sophomore

Tell us about yourself! What kinds of things do you like to do, Hobbies, Fun Facts, Etc.?

Hey! My name is Bethel and I’m a sophomore. I like watching shows, listening to music, and reading when I have the chance. I am actually currently reading Angela Davis’, Women Race & Class, which is a good read if you want to start getting into leftist theory. I am very passionate about speaking out on issues that disproportionately affect people. 

What issues are you passionate about advocating for? Are there any organizations or clubs you’re a part of that work to help spread the messages that you’re advocating for?

A big issue I don’t see talked about in our community is antiblackness and the ways it affects Black students at Mason. Whether it be remarks or the inaccurate representation of slavery in history class, it lingers everywhere. I think understanding that anti-blackness is very much a global issue, as well as a huge part of the root of the United States, is important to digest. The club that I’m in, Youth Activism Club, really helps address these issues as well as many other important topics that are relevant in our community as well as the world.

What do you hope to do through spreading the word and informing others about these topics?

I really hope to show others that there are issues that much deeper than the surface level stuff that you see on social media. These topics are often what need to be addressed and many people aren’t talking about them. Yes, it’s nice to spread awareness, but when you reiterate the same things that we already know and understand, we can’t really get far in our deeper comprehension of these issues. Also, letting people who are affected by a certain issue be the ones to talk about it first and making sure other people aren’t speaking over them. 

How does your identity and the issues you support play a role in your outlook on the world?

Being a Black woman really has shaped my perception of what I view in the bigger world. I don’t really like identity politics, considering it can be really harmful on a larger scale (like the vice president and her influence), but these identities, as well as others, have changed how I see society. I can better understand and empathize with others who also feel the same as me and want to talk about deeper topics, maybe like the effects of capitalism or intersectionality, and how everything is connected somehow. You get the point. 

Why are these topics meaningful to you?

I think these topics are so meaningful to me because as a 16-year-old, I don’t see many people my age in my community willing to have these conversations and really want to genuinely learn. I think one of these reasons is because I think a lot of people my age are afraid to say the wrong thing or mess up an interpretation of something, but in reality, we’re all learning and it’s okay to make mistakes, I definitely do. 

What would you like to see change or improve within the world we live in? That is, what do you want to change by advocating for the topics you’re speaking out on?

I think when I think of “change” it’s often something that is out of many people’s reach and not really something that could be solved by the regular person. I think a change that I do hope to see is people holding people in power accountable, since they are often the ones who have the ability to make a bigger change, for example maybe a politician. Looking at issues that are in close proximity to you would probably be the most realistic since the whole world has many different issues. I just hope that my advocation for these topics would inspire someone else to look into things they care about. 

If there’s one thing you want people to take away from reading this, what would it be?

I really hope that someone reading this will want to further look into topics that are all around them. It’s honestly never too late to start learning and digesting different material. I wish we all keep learning about the things we are passionate about. Anyway, stay safe and stay home.