Opinion: Expanding your political consciousness is a journey


Emily Tonn, English writing junior

Emily Edwards

Emily Tonn

English writing junior

[email protected]

Before I came to Loyola I grew up on Long Island, where Bill O’Reilly is a local celebrity and Fox News is always on after dinner. I grew up in a conservative bubble, where locals are mostly Roman Catholics who wear their beliefs on their sleeves and on the bumpers of their cars. I was a product of my surroundings and my K-12 Catholic school education, but I remember the first time I critically thought on my own: it was when I was in 7th grade, and I had a conversation with an 8th grade girl who I looked up to about a pro-life poetry contest all the middle schoolers were supposed to sign up for. I remember when my 8th grade classmate told me that she was pro-choice–a radical stance to 12-year-old me.

This changed a lot for me back then. I started questioning my spoon-fed beliefs and the views of those around me. By my senior year, we had to register with a political party in my history class–I was skeptical of how my high school sprang this important decision on us during the last 5 minutes of class one day–and I opted ‘independent’ among my pro-Romney classmates. It was around the same time I applied to Loyola.

It’s because of Loyola and New Orleans, and all the loved ones that have come into my life since moving down here 3 years ago, that I am no longer a passive bystander when it comes to politics and social activism. The friends I have made here, and this wonderful, free-spirited city where I feel at home have made me care about what’s happening in the real world in a more engaged way. My fellow classmates and friends at Loyola have exposed me to important social and political issues from the #BlackLivesMatter movement to cultural appropriation in fashion. I no longer live in the conservative bubble I once did. It is not always easily to be challenged politically, but I am grateful that I have had the chance to grow since coming to Loyola.

At Loyola, I have been surrounded by passionate people at school and in the city; the commitment to thinking critically about political issues in this community is unparalleled to anywhere else I’ve been yet, and it’s inspiring. Because of Loyola, I have gained the confidence I lacked before to be politically active and to use my voice to better this world through social issues that matter. If it weren’t for our open-minded, beautiful city (and shout out to Loyola financial aid for getting me here) maybe I would still be invited over to Thanksgiving dinner at my ultra-conservative Uncle Donald’s house. But I’d rather have Friendsgiving with activists and radicals.