Mistry: Write your own deliverance

Viral Mistry, Staff Columnist

This has been a semester full of spicy takes, but let me put to print my hottest take yet: Hamilton is a mediocre musical at best. It’s painfully historically inaccurate and is actually incredibly dangerous in how it melanin-washes figures who should be remembered as slaveholding colonizers, not as adorable theater geeks. However, I do appreciate the musical’s lyrical depth and brilliance.

In particular, I find inspiration in the following lines from the song “Hurricane”: “When my prayers to God were met with indifference, I picked up a pen, I wrote my own deliverance”.

When I first got here in August 2015 I was, believe it or not, incredibly shy. I didn’t have any experience as a leader or an advocate of any kind. I contemplated joining The Observer early on, but I didn’t because I felt like I had nothing of value to say.

Even when I didn’t believe in my own voice, other people did. I’ve been fortunate to learn and grow with my peers, both those who are currently here and those who are long gone from this university. They pushed me in the small and manageable ways that brought me to where I am now.

I joined the Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative (UDC) as a second-year student, and had the privilege of serving on its executive board during my third year at Case Western Reserve University. I got to speak and advocate with others. I learned about the deep injustices in this world, and my capacity to change them. We pushed for changes wherever and however we could: menstrual products in the women’s and gender-neutral bathrooms, adding an African-American studies minor and defending the rights of undocumented students on campus. I started to feel comfortable in my own skin and with my own voice. In the fall of 2017, I wrote my first Letter to the Editor for The Observer in response to a hate incident at Cleveland State University.

Later, in early 2018, I lost re-election to the UDC board by a single vote, and ran for a position on the executive board of the University Media Board (UMB), and won. That ended up being one of the wisest decisions I ever made while at CWRU. I quickly befriended former Executive Editor for The Observer Eddie Kerekes, who served on the executive board of UMB with me. He constantly told me to write for The Observer, but I didn’t believe him when he insisted that people cared about what I had to say. Another successful Letter to the Editor, several successful Facebook rants and numerous Friday morning conversations with Eddie about Opinion Editor Jackson Rudoff’s brilliant editorials flew by last semester. At the semesterly Study Buddies event held by UMB for its members during finals, I finally got to meet Jackson and talk to him about how much I loved his work. For the umpteenth time, Eddie told me to write for the Opinion section. I decided to go for it.

That brings us to this semester. I picked a tag that resonated with me: my favorite lines from my favorite song by British-Pakistani rapper Riz Ahmed, “They put their boots in our ground, we put our roots in their ground, I put my truth in this sound, I spit my truth and it’s brown.” I hoped the tag could give me the strength I needed every week to use this platform to speak my truth about the issues that matter to me. And so I did. I saw so many problems around me, and I tried my best every week to write about something important and meaningful, hoping I could make the strongest positive impact possible in my final semester here. In my own little way, I could move the needle.

I have been absolutely floored by the responses to my articles this semester. So many of you have had so many positive things to say about my pieces. They’ve helped launch new opportunities for myself that I couldn’t have ever previously imagined. I’ve laid bare my life and heart to all of you so many times and I couldn’t have asked for a better audience. I’ve found new confidence and strength in my perspective and thoughts. I approach graduation and the next chapter in my life ready to be the agent of change I’ve wanted to be for so long.

To all those who came before and with me here, thank you for your love and support. Even on the darkest of nights, I knew I was never truly lost because I had the light of your constellations to guide me.

To all of you who I am leaving behind, I am passing the torch down to you. Express yourself, in every little way you can. Reach out for that position. Speak out when you feel ignored. Ask the bigger questions. Never let anyone stop you from speaking your truth. Pick up your pen, whether metaphorical or literal.

Write your own deliverance.

Viral Mistry will be graduating this May with degrees in biology and cognitive science and minors in chemistry, history and philosophy. He wants to thank you all for an incredible and life-changing four years that he will never forget.