By Emily Townsend
Arts & Entertainment Editor
On Tuesday, New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof spoke to a packed Dalton theater about the oppression of women worldwide. The audience was made up of students, professors, Arcus workers, Alum and Kalamazoo city residents. Throughout the talk, Kristof reiterated one message: “Women and girls are not the problem. They are the solution.”
Kristof was brought to Kalamazoo College by the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran and senior Elvin Caldwell provided introductions. Wilson-Oyelaran spoke about the importance of Kristof’s message to K students as “global citizens in a changing world.”
Caldwell listed many of Kristof’s achievements, including travel to 140 countries, all 50 states and every Chinese province. Caldwell said, “words like honest, real and transparent come to mind,” when he read Kristof’s recent book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.”
Kristof was excited about visiting Kalamazoo, impressed with the city and the College’s commitment to “the promise,” study abroad, and the Arcus center. However, he admitted that Kalamazoo was relaxing to visit after a stint in Somalia covering female genital mutilation.
Senior Martha Carazos, an Arcus center volunteer, was most affected by the discussion on human trafficking. She recalled Kristof’s story about buying two young sex slaves so he could relocate and liberate them. For his purchase of human beings he was given a written receipt. Carazos said, “To me that was the tangible proof of undermining of humans.”
The talk focused on identifying and offering solutions for what he called, “modern slavery.” He said, “In the last century, 127 million women have been discriminated to death,” and insisted oppression and slavery of women is not hyperbole.
First year Colin Lauderdale, an Arcus center scholar, was impressed by Kristof’s solutions to problems in developing countries, which avoided big infrastructure changes. “[He] was thinking about making change in the little details,” Lauderdale said.
After the lecture audience members filed into the Olmsted room to have their books signed. In the corner Annie Walbidge, an eighth grader from Richland, played a song on guitar. She wrote the song for Mr. Kristof after she read his book with her Mom, a K alum, a year ago. She said, “his book taught me we are so lucky to wake up with we have.”