PICKART: Human rights, lives must come before professions

Marquette+University+and+other+institutions+should+encourage+students+to+use+their+voices+and+make+a+difference.+%0AMarquette+Wire+Stock+Photo

Marquette University and other institutions should encourage students to use their voices and make a difference. Marquette Wire Stock Photo

What we do as Marquette students, staff and alumni in a professional setting must parallel the way we are called to approach life, as men and women emphasizing and adopting Jesuit educational values, committed to justice and fiercely loving every individual we interact with.

Coming from a Jesuit high school, I have been fortunate as to experience this aspect of the Jesuit education that we must put others before our own needs when they need it most. Our life, therefore, should be a life lived for others.

We, as men and women for others, must speak up in our classrooms, workplaces and social settings against discrimination, racism and injustices occurring across the nation. 

Marquette University cites four key characteristics as the most foundational keys to success in this world: excellence, faith, leadership and service. 

Though I believe these four aspects can lead to success in the classroom setting and professional setting and surrounding community, they are key to the development of the human being in everyday life. Most importantly, we must be human first. 

We are humans before we are employees, students or professors. 

Humanity comes first, always. Thus, our passion and drive for human rights should always come first. 

Far too often, we throw away our humanity and our hearts in order to remain “professional.” We throw away our passions and our hopes for a better world to protect our own financial, educational and societal well-beings. However, now more than ever, action is obligatory. In the professional world, we must speak up. 

Recently, there has been a massive influx of support for social justice, especially the Black Lives Matter movement that has gained support following the death of George Floyd. Even more recently, the death of Jacob Blake has illuminated the severity of police brutality against Black indigenous people of color. 

More opportunities have since been available for individuals who have not experienced racism to learn, listen and educate themselves due to the universal call for justice, such as through television, film, social media and literature.

Although much information has been provided, there has been a few things that I find most important and universal: Silence can no longer be permitted and action is a necessity. Conversations, unlearning and relearning must occur, but they are not sufficient. 

With injustices in our world occurring, the silence of the professional world causes even more damage to people of color. The marginalized cannot create change alone, as the systemic issues are too far embedded in our society. All of us are responsible for promoting equity, equality and change. Action is key. 

Now is the time for our society to step up and do its part.

In professional and educational settings, we owe it to our peers to speak up about injustices of racism and sexism. It is important to call out discrimination and educate ourselves and check in with our colleagues that could be experiencing any sort of injustice.

To put it simply, if speaking up and supporting movements that promote justice for marginalized communities means a potential risk of job loss, a difficult conversation in class or an argument between peers, it is a risk worth taking.

It shouldn’t be considered a “risk” at all. It should be our duty and passion to stand up against injustices, no matter the setting. We, as Marquette students, as Americans, as educators and as human beings, should be proud to combat oppression and prejudices. 

Our world should not, cannot and will not be fully formed until we recognize that human lives must come before economic prosperity, personal power and individual success. 

Marquette University, as a predominantly white university, must do its part to live up to its values and ideals. Students, peers and educators must do their part.

Anti-racism education must occur. As we grow older and learn more throughout our time at Marquette, we must be prepared to be real “men and women for others.” On our campus and in our societies, we must listen to the voices of people of color, amplify them and do our part in our professional settings. 

Without doing so, injustice and inequity will continue.

This story was written by Max Pickart. He can be reached at max.pickart@marquette.edu.