Written by Vanessa Mutesi
A seat at the table or a “seat” at the table. Which table are you fighting to sit at? What table do you feel would benefit from your energy, passion, drive and knowledge? We all aim to sit at different tables because we try to gain something from the people at the table. Barack Obama once said, “Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.” Now, this hit home. I sat and thought about the tables I fought to sit at, and whether or not I was being accepted. Furthermore, I started to think about whether or not I was being brought to the table for who I am, or for keeping up appearances. Was I being offered a seat at the table or a “seat” at the table? Allow me to break this down.
When we are brought to the table because of who we are, we are appreciated for who we are. We are taken in because value was found in our thoughts and character, and on that table we find ourselves in the people we interact with. We essentially build from one another, and we become committed to helping each other grow. Collective growth becomes a primary goal, therefore being given a seat. On the other hand, when we are accepted to save face, we are taken in as a token. Occasionally we find ourselves being a token when we represent a race, gender, sexual orientation or religion that would make a group look good. In these instances, we are brought in to save face and not because we are valued. Here is when we are given a “seat”
We all seek to have our voices heard and valued. We join different student organization, clubs and other campus groups where we seek to find ourselves within a group of people. We want to belong to a people that are committed to building each other and ensuring that no one is left behind. However, as we seek to fight for our positions at different tables, we must think about the reception that is there. Analysis is a key component in finding where you belong. Think about what tables you’re fighting to join and whether or not you are there for who you are or whether you are being used to save face.
Fight for your voice. Fight for where you are valued.