aside the podium placed for her speech, Rebecca Walker,
a novelist and activist, sat on the table at the front of
Miami Universitys 144 Benton Hall Tuesday night to
talk with the audience rather than lecture.
podium, or "patriarchal pulpit," as author
bell hooks once described it, "suggests that I have
all the knowledge and you are here to absorb it,"
Walker said. "I find the best way to learn from
another person is to relax and allow what they are saying
to come into my being."
considered one of the most audible voices of the young womens
movement, devoted time to a variety of issues, including
the idea of individuality.
can talk about anything you want," she said. "We
can talk about activism with young women. We can talk about
daughter of a civil rights activist, Walker spoke about
her search for identity as well as her novel, Black, White
and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self.
their love for each other, Walkers parents faced constant
discrimination for their interracial marriage.
eventually divorced, with Walkers mother moving to
New York and her father to San Francisco.
was a difficult time to be young and in love and trying
to change the world kind of like now," Walker
traveling between coasts, Walker found herself playing various
roles to fit different peoples expectations of her
as black and white.
said that in society today, "You are supposed to
behave in this way if you are in this body. You start to
question the very fundamental nature and self."
believes that it is necessary to look back in order to grow.
had a really strong feeling that if I did not look back,
reflect and come to terms with my childhood, I really could
not fully become an adult," Walker said.
find her answers, she began to write her novel at Yale University,
where she graduated cum laude in 1992.
shifted from her story to the audience members, challenging
them by asking a poignant Hindu question that she embraced.
are we if we can become anybody on any day?" she
asked. "For one year of your life, you should ask
yourself every day: Who am I?"
continued, challenging students to refuse particular molds
and to maintain the freedom to express themselves.
feel there is a lid here," she said. "College
really is the time to try as many new things, ideas, tastes,
flavors as you can. So try to push that lid off."
ended her speech by welcoming questions from the audience.
think the audience could have stayed another hour just to
talk to her. Look at the line just to talk to her right
now," said Kim Murray, a Miami English professor.
Seiler, a sophomore French and English education major,
was touched by Walkers words and waited to speak with
struck by how personal she made the discussion, despite
the room being full of people," Seiler said. "I
think everyone could relate to her on some level. She really
made me think. Id like to just process it for a while."
speech was co-sponsored by the Womens
Center and Sista II Sista, a student organization that
serves as a social support network geared toward first-year
students who may be searching for their own identities.
knew we wanted to bring a speaker here who brought a different
perspective that we embody as a group as well," said
junior Lauren Collins, the program coordinator for Sista