Understanding the Problem: A story about listening to one another to achieve change

Article and Video by Anna Margaret Foster

Mississippi native Picasio Thompson details how having an open attitude and showing empathy to one another can play a major role in combating the social justice issues prevalent in today’s society.

With the social and political climate of the United States more polarized than ever, many American’s are striving to find the good in a time that makes this very challenging. Since the beginning of 2020, America has been grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken the lives of over 200,000 individuals and infected nearly 8 million in our country alone. On top of the stresses of living through a pandemic, many American’s are also standing up for social issues facing our country, such as racial injustice and police brutality. The upcoming 2020 election is also testing American’s faith in our democratic system and leaving many individuals afraid for the future of our country.

So, what are possible solutions to the social issues facing Americans? What can we do to come together as a more unified nation? And, what are the long term effects 2020 will have on the future of our country?

As a 24-year-old African American male and Raleigh, Mississippi native, Picasio Thompson has used his voice to advocate for people of color for much of his life. Thompson expresses his concerns for the future of our country and emphasizes the importance of listening to one another in order to achieve change.

“In times of grief we should be coming together more,” said Thompson. “With the Black Lives Matter Movement, COVID-19, and other social issues going on, I feel like this has been a time of separation in our country, and instead of working together we have been pushed either to the left or the right side,” he said.

“I feel like a middle man isn’t really being heard anymore. Nobody is really listening to each other,” said Thompson.

Picasio spoke about how the Black Lives Matter Movement is simply an organization that wants to be heard and how even though we all come from different backgrounds we must show empathy for one another in order to fully understand the reason behind the social issues that face our country.

“It is hard to teach people that your one way and their one way, but they can never really see that because they have never lived outside of a life that isn’t their own,” said Picasio.

“We are just asking for people to care,” Thompson continued. “Same thing about COVID, we are asking that people wear a mask and some people have their reasons for not wanting to do so, but they just have to show common courtesy for others when you do go out in public.”

Thompson also discusses the influence that social media plays in the polarization of our country stating, “social media has definitely given rise to the split of our country, but at the same time, it is not social media’s fault. It is the people’s fault.”

“People don’t choose to see the other side of the argument,” he said. “But also, sometimes why would you want to see the other side of the argument? Once people see that they are wrong, they then have to admit they are wrong and go about doing the right thing, and a lot of people don’t want to do that.”

“It will take a lot for people to change who they are and many people do not want to change and never will,” said Thompson. “That is why racism is still alive in our country today.”

Reaching out to people from other nationalities to check on them and become more informed about their issues is any easy way to show our care for these minority groups. Thompson says he often reaches out to his peers to better understand what is going on in their lives, even though he will never fully understand what it is like to be a different ethnicity.

“I do not know that change will come this year or this presidential term,” Thompson said. “But it is just something that has to happen,” he continues. “I feel like the divide in our country is getting worse, but at the same time it is getting better because our generation is speaking up and educating themselves.”

Thompson is hopeful for the future of the United States and urges people to look for the good in the mundane things of life. He encourages every individual to go out and vote in order to achieve change in our country, but emphasizes that we are still fighting the same fight that has been around for hundreds of years and the only way to move away from these beliefs is to empathize with others and realize that their is an issue to be resolved, and not just “made better”.

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