By Ruth Kehinde – 1851 Contributor
During a celebration of the United 3 flag on September 14, alumni Ruth Kehinde presented a speech on the importance of the unity between the BLM and PRIDE movements. In her address to the Lasell community, Kehinde stressed the importance of these movements, and thanked Lasell for choosing to pursue greatness in raising the United 3 flag.
“Good afternoon everyone. For those who don’t know who I am, well- hi, my name is Ruth Kehinde. It’s still pretty crazy to say it out loud but I’m a Lasell Alumni that graduated last May. I would have to say that Lasell has tremendously awakened me academically and mindfully. With being from Brooklyn, NY, adapting to a institution is one thing but adapting to another state as well in the midst of it, entirely is a game changer. And boy, did I not know what I was in for. But of course in the summer, I had plenty of time to reflect and still am on the last four years. And as I stand here talking to you all, I can’t help but realize that freshman Ruth and present Ruth are not the same person with being back here. 17-year-old me did not think she would be making a BLM/PRIDE flag and giving a speech about it.
This flag is very dear to my heart especially in the time that the idea of it was made. The year 2020 has been a wake up call but mostly a reminder. It has reminded us of the inevitability of sickness, death, and loss. But especially the errors that are in our country. On May 25. 2020, a knee was used for vanquish for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to portray heartless power instead of justice and peace to those fighting to survive. The need for dominance is the architect of its own destruction. Instead of unequal power we have to unite to progress to create something better. Just like everyone, we are born out of nowhere, we grow up and decide how we want to see the world. You can either repeat the cycle of what others before you have practiced or carry the burden of breaking the cycle. It’s always your choice.
This leads to the term called highest self. Maybe you’ve heard of it maybe not. When talking about this term, people use it to give advice to another which pertains to providing a sense of independence and confidence but most times it’s used as a goal for someone to attain within themselves. But while striving to get to the highest part of yourself there’s always that lingering question of, “how can we recognize it when we see it?”
Here’s the thing, we already are our higher selves. The only difference between us and our higher self is just the path that we’re going to take to get to them. This flag was made because there is power within all of us within our natural way of being and that comes with strength to get to the person we want to be so why not have a flag that represents that? And that’s why I decided to name this flag, The United Three.
The United 3 is something to see as even though the Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ alongside the transgender colors are not the same thing, they are part of the same category. The United 3 screams out unity. These communities deserve to be on that flag pole at this liberal arts university. And don’t get me wrong there are so many others that deserve to be up there just as much. And that’s why the United 3 invites others for it to be continuously going up to the United 4,5,6,7 and so on. Every student has one goal and that is to feel supported in their place of study. For them not to feel as if their skin color is a threat. For them to walk and hold hands with someone down the street without feeling judged.
Merging the three is a message of stating, come as you are. Your life despite of what skin color, gender or sexual orientation has nothing to do with how much your life matters because as you feel your chest going up and down as you do right now it’s a given that it already does.
Within the journey of getting to your higher self, this flag represents the higher self of not just the Lasell community but for it to be branched out everywhere. As students make the transition of coming out of high school to going into the real world, this is the stepping stone to progress in how they will influence the real world. The same way of how this idea came in my mind by just thinking out loud in my basement to it now being on this flagpole ready to be risen, is evidence within itself that anything is possible. And of course, we live in a world where not everyone will be on the same page for everyone is entitled to having an opinion. But having this flag originates in the journey that requires us to respecting ourselves which also means respecting others.
As I come before you in this Lasell U- Celebration. I would first like to thank Jesse Tauriac for helping me in this journey. Your wide smile and guidance will forever have a place in my heart.
I would like to thank President Alexander for hearing me out with this idea to have it eventually be heard by others but most importantly for your patience and shared determination to have this flag be put up.
Thank you SGA, PRIDE, and MSU for also hearing me out on this proposal and supporting me in the making.
Thank you Kenneth Calhoun for your help in designing this flag with your rad graphic designer skills as we worked together to make it happen.
Thank you Rami, for your presence and much needed advice. Your endless support, not just in this but overall is something I will forever be grateful for. I wouldn’t be standing here doing this if it wasn’t for you.
Thank you mom for always being there. Your limitless strength somehow also transferred into me. You are someone I’ll always be inspired by. I’m proud to be your daughter.
And lastly, thank you Lasell. Thank you Lasell for being the stepping stone for me to transform into someone I never thought was imaginable. Someone who traveled so many hours to attain a degree. Someone who uses love within herself to guide others to find theirs.
Lasell’s motto is “in pursuit of great”. Well, as we rise this flag, Lasell will no longer be in the pursuit of great, for Lasell has attained it.