Continuing King’s Legacy: Jenea’ Robinson ’14

January 16, 2012

Jenea RobinsonJenea’ Robinson dreams of equality. Whether for the GLBT community, minorities, or immigrants, the theatre major believes implicitly in the importance of treating others with respect and dignity and ensuring everyone experiences equal civil rights.

The Declaration of Independence guarantees Americans the “unalienable rights” of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” What does this mean to you?

I feel that liberty is the ability to live life without worries of discrimination, alienation, or spiritual and physical restriction. This entails everyone having equal rights. There should not be a group that is more “free” than any other.

What do you perceive to be the most pressing issue that your generation should address?

Not letting history repeat itself. Letting people marry whomever they want. Not letting religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or whatever makes someone “different” impede on their professional and/or social successes.

No person should be denied the right to marry the person they love. I feel that “gays” are this generations “blacks,” as there was a time when African Americans could not marry. What is the difference between someone marrying someone of the same sex? For me, there is none.

Likewise, I hear on the news cases of people being denied proper medical care, professional promotions, or overall proper treatment based on their sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, etc. This is absurd and should no longer be an issue. Someone should never be denied basic civil rights because of these factors. Imagine what a powerful change this would be for humanity if these issues didn’t play a role in determining success.

During his “I Have a Dream Speech,” King laid out his dream. What is your dream?

I want to fill out a form that does not ask me, “Race: Black, White, Hispanic, Other.” Everyone is the same race: human. I want a world with peace, a world where people encourage one another rather than focusing all of their energy on bringing each other down.

How does your involvement influence your vision?

I have grown to love Immersion trips, which allow me to help the community and to become more socially aware of serious issues locally and globally. For example, I went on the Miami Immersion trip that dealt with immigration. Before the trip, I was pretty ignorant on the topic. Having participated on that trip, I feel educated on the topic and better able to understand the truth behind immigration. Afterward, I immediately spread the word to my friends and even did a project in one of my theatre classes about the importance of being aware about the issues surrounding immigration in America.

How are you working to end discrimination?

I never base my friendships or intimate relationships on discriminating factors. If I ever hear a discriminating comment, I always shoot it down and explain to the person(s) why it is degrading and ignorant. If I hear someone saying something discriminatory, I try to explain why it’s offensive or respond with things like, “That is offensive to more than just me. Watch what you say and understand words are hurtful.”

What advice do you have for students who are interested in becoming involved but aren’t sure where to start?

Go to the 3rd floor of the Mills building, make a right (toward the Office of Community Engagement), and say, “Hey, I am _________, I have interest in __________. How can I get involved?”

Honoring the life and legacy of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, MLK Celebration runs January 16-21. Join us in paying homage to King’s work toward equality and economic justice for all people.

By Laura J. Cole

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