Rebecca Walker



By Vanessa C. Deggins, © The Daily Reveille, 4/07/2005

Rebecca Walker, a nationally renowned author and activist, officially ended the University’s celebration of Women’s History Month with a speech on breaking down societal divisions.

Walker, the daughter of author and civil rights activist Alice Walker and Jewish civil rights lawyer Mel Leventhal, spoke to a crowd of about 200 in the Cox Auditorium.

She said people can sometimes be too willing to accept divisions within society.

She said too many people speak “a language of division.”


Media Credit: JOLIE DUHON / The Daily Reveille
Rebecca Walker, author of "Black, White and Jewish" and daughter of author Alice Walker, speaks to a large group of students for Women's History Month Wednesday evening in the Cox Auditorium.

Our language is based on defining ourselves as binary opposites of other people. Until we can create a new language without that, we cannot get past the divisions in society,” Walker said.

She said that these divisions are prevalent through race, gender, economic class and sexual preference.

She said she feels society is in a cycle of unconsciously planting the seeds of division and expecting to get equality.

This type of dualistic thinking has been considered OK because people are taught that they are not part of a whole,” Walker said. “People have to understand that there is no escape within in the pattern.”

By reflecting on her bi-racial childhood, she explained how her experiences with relatives of both races allowed her to learn about the divisions between them.

Walker also said that until only a few years ago, she thought that she was an open-minded person.

I realized that I had made my mind up about a lot of things a long time ago,” Walker said.

Some members of the audience said they could not understand Walker at times.

“I fully agree with her views, but I felt like she talked in circles sometimes,” said Betsy Williamson, an LSU Alumni.

Janis Bellon, a non-matriculating graduate student, said “because most college-aged students have been raised to define themselves by comparing to others, I think she meant that each person has to figure out what works for them,” Tom Harang, an English literature senior, said that he thought Walker understands many different kinds of people.

“She has seen different sides to the issue and is able to admit her faults first,” Harang said. “It should make other people want to look and themselves a change.”

Self-reflection and understanding is a major topic of most of Walker’s works. Her most well-known is her memoir, “Black, White, and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self.”

Her latest anthology is, “What Makes a Man: Twenty Writers Imagine the Future of Masculinity.”



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