Life Lessons from NCCWSL Keynoter Franchesca Ramsey
It started with a story about a snail and a caterpillar. On stage as the final keynote speaker at this year’s NCCWSL, Franchesca Ramsey recounted a tale about two friends who were heading to a party. To get there, they had to go under a fence, which the caterpillar easily slid under. Unfortunately, the snail’s shell was too big to fit under the fence.
While the caterpillar wishes his friend would hurry up, the snail wishes for help, thus prompting a conversation about the pair’s unique struggles. The snail’s shell makes life more challenging; for the caterpillar, the struggle of having 16 feet is real. As they talk, the two realize that in recognizing their own privilege, they can work together to break barriers and create positive change. In the story, that meant finding a new route to the party that they both could easily access.
This opening tale about the snail and caterpillar is an example of what Ramsey does best: using humor to encourage dialogue and reflection about individuals’ personal biases, judgments, and actions. Just as she did with her popular YouTube video, “Sh*t White Girls Say … to Black Girls,” and through her MTV web series “Decoded,” Ramsey interjected her keynote speech with comedy and lightheartedness. She spoke about sexual assault, stereotypes, being an ally, and feminism, all while making the audience laugh. Ramsey’s speech left attendees not only in high spirits but also thinking about their own privilege and the ways they can promote change through their own social media.