Jake Goldman: Senior Column

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I always knew that I had a voice, but until late, I never quite understood when to use it

I’m loud, and I always have been. As a young kid, I would perform in front of my family, singing the song “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” with my portable microphone. I knew how to amplify my voice so others heard, and I continued to act that way through middle school.

In seventh grade, as a five-foot-three nerd, I rapped T.I.’s verse of Justin Timberlake’s song “My Love” beside Jeriah Horne, then a six-foot-four basketball star. Though I made a fool of myself, I once again stepped outside of the box, sharing my voice and obviously defying a few stereotypes being a white, Jewish rapper from the burbs. Yet, I didn’t mind that juxtaposition; I enjoyed sharing my voice with others.

During my time at Blue Valley North, I became more aware and cognizant of worldly events (credit to Mr. Skiles). Twenty-seven people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary; I said nothing. Charlie Hebdo was attacked in Paris; I said nothing. The North Carolina legislature passed the HB2 Act; I said nothing.

I saw a common trend—where was the voice that I had previously expressed? Our future generations, our freedom of expression, and our freedom to love were attacked, and I failed to say anything. Though, I now felt a responsibility—a duty—to use my voice for more worthy reasons.

Then, Reat Underwood, Dr. William L. Corporon, and Terry LaManno were killed at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom Retirement Center. This was an attack on us, our community. From years of building my voice, it was ultimately the time to share it; the murders pushed me over the edge.

SevenDays came next. I know I’ve harassed many of you to sign up for the walk, so I won’t get into any of the details. However, I do want to share one image.

As we set forth together for three miles from the Jewish Community Center, past Village Shalom, to the Church of the Resurrection, religions were bridged, cultures were blended, and families were united. In our blue t-shirts, we flowed like a single river—looking past our differences and embracing our similarities. It was in that moment that I grasped how simple and important changing the world could be. All we had to do was congregate and talk. By building a dialogue, we turned hate into love, misunderstanding into acceptance.

I learned that utilizing my voice and listening to the voices of others could help me better understand those around me. We are more alike than we are different, but that greater understanding must begin with a conversation.

I am forever grateful for Blue Valley North and all of you, my peers and educators. Without the support and always-persistent challenge, I can’t say for certain whether I would have found my voice. However, I am excited to start new conversations as I open the next chapter of my life. Thank you.