My name is Grace and I am a junior at the UC Berkeley, double majoring in American Politics and Legal Studies. I grew up in rural Northern California as the daughter of a fourth generation rice farmer and a public school teacher. I graduated from my public high school in a senior class of sixty kids. Everyone that I grew up with is proudly conservative – the traditional, blue-collar-American, pastoral brand of conservatism. A lot of them were born into a generational family farming or trade operation, do not have access to quality education, and enter the workforce as teens. So when I moved to Berkeley, the general hostility and condemnation of people like the ones I grew up was really jarring at first, especially coming from students and even university officials from wealthy areas.
I’ve come to realize in my time at Cal that at the root of the contention between populist conservatives and modern liberals in America there are glaring structural, social and cultural disconnects that are too seldom addressed.
The first Berkeley BridgeUSA event I attended was a dialogue between an evangelical christian woman and a gender non-binary activist – and then I joined the chapter, because I realized Bridge is one of few organizations working to reconcile the disconnects like the ones I see between my home and my campus populations.
I think that this kind of work has never been more important, now we’re witnessing the abandonment of our democratic processes for hyper-partisan gameplay. This to me doesn’t mean we need to abandon our moral convictions – it just means we are making the necessary effort to approach political conversation in a way that is cognizant of infinite diversity in upbringings, resources, education, and culture.”