The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Revved Up: “Think B4 You Speak” and raise your voice

According to Facebook, one of my best high school friends had her birthday the other day. It’s been almost seven years since I graduated, and six years since we last saw each other. I imagine that the odds are against us seeing each other again. She has her life. I have mine. Both time and distance continue to wedge space between us. But if I had to gamble on our friendship, I would bet against the house. And you would be wise to take that bet because Kate’s voice and integrity burned a brand onto my skull that I don’t think will ever go away. When someone affects you in so deep a way, nothing can keep you from that friend.

Curious about what that brand says? I think the message is best summed up by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and Ad Council’s slogan, “Think B4 You Speak.” 

I was in eleventh-grade and Kate was in tenth.  I stood at 6’1 and had a pension to clown around. I don’t even know if Kate grew past five feet, but she was the butt of many jokes. We, along with Brian, were like the three musketeers. We were partners in crime and had a relationship as thick as thieves. There were plenty of reasons why the three of us made an unlikely trifecta.  Brian was a politically right off center, Mexican-American training to serve in the United States Marine Corp.  I was a moderate Evangelical preparing for the ministry. Kate was a proud liberal who was hell bent on doing her part to make the world a better place. We were a motley crew that experienced new relationships, first break-ups, crises of faith, 9/11, an unforgettable class trip to New York and a lot of laughs. But as meaningful as all of that may have been, even great memories have a propensity to fade.

The reason why Kate and I will most likely stay friends is because of the way she once raised her voice. The three of us were hanging out by our lockers joking around. Brian did something unmemorable and I decided to make fun of him, as was one of my favorite past times. “Brian, you’re so gay,” I said. Brian laughed, but Kate’s face was stoic. There’s nothing more disconcerting then an unappreciated joke, so I asked Kate what was the matter, and that’s when she branded me for life.

Kate responded to me, “That wasn’t funny.” I was dumbfounded that she was unimpressed by humor. She continued to call me out for using the word “gay” as a put down. Now she wasn’t mean about it or angry, for that would have surely made me forget the whole incident. She was much more poignant.  She was honest and caring. Kate liked me enough to not allow me be so stupid as to misuse a word nor to allow my flippancy and haphazard speech hurt someone else. Kate branded “Think B4 You Speak,” into my thick skull.

What if a word that represented a part of your core being was used as an insult, not just once but more times than can be counted? It’s not a jump in logic to begin to associate something negative with who you are. I guess this lesson really hit home with me when someone pointed out with how often “black” is associated with negative, taboo and unsavory parts of society.

Kate and I have a friendship worth keeping because she cared enough to educate me on this matter.  Can you say the same for your friendships? If not, then why waste your time with them. Friends don’t let friends be fools. Teach them to “Think B4 You Speak.”

Richard Newton is a student at the Perkins School of Theology. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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