Why Just Mercy is Much More Than a Film

This past Tuesday night consisted of rushing to eat dinner, driving with my mom to the movie theater, seeing a film based on my favorite book of all time, driving home in the fog, folding laundry, and ending the night by shaving my legs. Like a lot of girls, shaving is a pretty normal occurrence for me, and I don’t usually think much of it. That night, however, a very weird wave of uneasiness came over me as I began to shave, and after about 10 minutes, I realized why that wave was hitting me: In the movie I watched hours earlier, someone else was having their legs shaved too. However, for this person, the shaving was not voluntary. This person was getting their whole body shaved in preparation for being put to death by an electric chair. His name was Herbert Richardson, and he was one of the death row inmates who attorney Bryan Stevenson represented in the movie Just Mercy. The horror on Richardson’s face as the prison guards shaved him from head to toe to speed up the electric current was extremely prolific, and it made me look at the simple act of shaving my legs through a completely different lens.

Herbert Richardson was an Alabama man sentenced to the death penalty after a bomb that he created and delivered killed a young girl. Richardson had an extremely traumatic childhood, yet he chose to rise above the trauma and do good with his life by enlisting in the military and going off to the Vietnam War. The young man was extremely psychologically traumatized during the war, leading to his honorable discharge. Upon returning home, his PTSD exponentially increased. At one of the hospitals he stayed at, Richardson met and fell in love with one of his nurses. They dated for a while before she tried to cut off contact with him. Not able to think clearly, Richardson devised a plan to win her back. He would construct a bomb, leave it on her porch in a box, detonate it, but save the nurse just in time. He had experience with bombs in the war, and he didn’t see this plan going wrong. Except it did. A little girl inside the nurse’s house saw the box on the porch, picked it up, shook it, and was killed instantly. Richardson, who was watching from across the street, was horrified. He had not intended to murder anyone, let alone a little girl. The courts, however, didn’t pay much attention to this. Nor did they pay attention to his deep psychological trauma. Nor did they pay attention to the honorable discharge and his dedication to fighting for the country. They saw a cold-blooded killer, put him on death row, and sent an electric wave through his body to kill him as revenge. Even the help and expertise of Bryan Stevenson and his team wasn’t enough to save this man. This is what the death penalty looks like in Alabama. As I watched his story play out on the screen, I had to keep reminding myself that this actually happened in real life. You would think that no court would overlook so much good and only focus on the bad, but as Richardson’s story proves, a system so ingrained in racism and discrimination often does just that.

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The Alex Trebek Legacy

One night in March of my junior year of high school, my friends and I skipped out on going to our school’s annual charity dance (also known as our school’s annual mini rave/make-out-fest) and instead decided to stay in, order a pizza, and watch some television. Upon arriving at my friend Allison’s house, we quickly turned on the one show the three of us loved to pieces- Jeopardy.

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So, How is College?

Coming home from college after your first semester is full of catching up on sleep, reconnecting with high school friends, and answering the dreaded “so…how is college?” question. To be perfectly honest, I dreaded this question for the longest time, for college hasn’t been anything like I thought it would be. In a lot of ways, my first few months at William and Mary have been amazing, and in other ways, they have challenged me in ways I didn’t think I could handle. Answering this loaded question can’t be done with a simple explanation, so I figured I’d come on here and write about it to try to put into words the craziness that has been the past four months of my life. Let’s go piece by piece.

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My First Half Marathon

Last year after the cross country season ended, my friends from school and I considered the idea of running a half marathon together. When we first talked about the idea of it, I was super excited. I love running long distances, and I thought that training for it together with some of my favorite people would be really enjoyable. However, senior year was SO busy, and since the only half marathon near us coincided with the spring track season, this dream of ours never came to fruition.

A little less than a year later, I joined my college’s running club (go blitz!!). Since everyone on this team is so wonderfully badass, it’s no surprise that as early as September, many members were talking about their plans to run the Richmond Half (and full) Marathon. As a newcomer, I didn’t know if I had what it took to run a whole 13.1 miles. My longest run up to that point was about 9 miles, but I hadn’t hit those distances in years. Still, I decided I would start training.

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No Time to Mull

For weeks now, I have been looking forward to this moment. I am sitting in the window seat on my train home to Pennsylvania, listening to Allen stone, and doing one of my favorite things in the world: writing. Most people would think of a 7-hour trip home as exhausting and boring, but for me, these next 7 hours are going to be extremely therapeutic.

During my past month and a half at William and Mary, I haven’t had much time to write. Any free minute I got was spent either catching up on Dancing with the Stars or playing Heads Up with my hallmates, and I wasn’t able to dedicate a solid chunk of time to writing. I’m happy I was present in those moments, but holy moly, I really missed the feeling of spilling my heart out via keyboard.

While I’d love to outline all the crazy, amazing experiences I’ve had over the past few weeks, I’d rather save those stories for my in-person interactions with everyone from home. The one point I want to focus this post on is a theme that has been really prevalent in my past few weeks, and one that has made me have a bit of a paradigm shift: There isn’t enough time in college to mull over your emotions, and I can’t tell if that’s super healthy or super unhealthy.

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How to Have the Best Senior Year Possible

Seniors, seniors, seniors. You have quite the year ahead of you. Finishing up your SAT’s, sending in those college applications, embarking on that fun senior trip (if your school is lucky enough  to give you one), getting to slack off after AP exams. It’s a crazy year to say the least. Some say it’s the best year of high school, others say it doesn’t live up to the hype. That’s for you to figure out…but as I sit here waiting to move into my college dorm in just 4 short days, I figured I’d let you rising seniors in on some pieces of advice that I wish I heard as I prepared for year 12 of my education.

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My American Girl Doll

Like most girls, I grew out of my American Girl Doll phase at around age 10, and after that, my sweet little Rebecca Rubin had little purpose. However, one summer night a few years ago, I decided I would play with her once more. I began to rummage through her clothes basket and found all the outfits that I was once so obsessed with. I dressed her up in all of these outfits that night. Every single one.  I tried a bunch of different hairstyles on her, and I read her some of the books that I “hand-made” for her back in the day. That night made me feel like a kid again, and now I have one of those nights at least once a year.

It’s a little tradition between Rebecca and I, and it’s usually something I do solely to feel like a kid again. Last night, however, honoring this tradition meant a little more than just jumping back into childhood for the night. Last night I realized how crucial she was to my growth all those years back.

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