Thursday, March 30, 2023

CNN’s Lisa Ling Speaks to MTSU Students


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by Janita Hendricks | Contributing Writer

Nationally known journalist Lisa Ling was met with a standing ovation on Thursday in the Student Union Ballroom after delivering a heart filled speech about the projects that have  shaped her perspective.

Ling was chosen to be the key note speaker for the Global Discourses and Gender Studies Interdisciplinary Conference and National Women’s History month.  The theme this month, which is very fitting for the self proclaimed “die hard feminist”, Ling, is  “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives.”

A thunderous applause erupted from eager students and faculty alike as Ling made her way to the podium.  Proving to have a sense of humor, Ling opened up by addressing what she called, common questions.

“Yes, Oprah is cool … No, I wasn’t in Charlie’s Angel’s.” Ling said.

There was a gentle balance between humor and tear shedding moments that Ling conveyed effortlessly.

A frequent phrase used by Ling was “American Styled Glasses.”  She described this term as being the preconceived notions she had when going to different countries and not considering a different way of life; she would often have to remove them.

“No story is black or white, there are so many shades of gray,” Ling said.

The gray Ling was able to see came of use when she visited places like China, Afghanistan and North Korea. She shared individual stories that she said, moved her, enraged her and saddened her.

Ling’s last story, that didn’t leave a dry eye in the house, was about sex trafficking.  She mentioned that sex trafficking is rapid amongst American girls, but it is usually passed off as prostitution. Ling expressed that after seeing first hand all of the unpleasant things in the world, she was questioning her faith, stating, “I thought: If there is a God, why does he allow all of these horrible things to happen?”  She recited a poem that was sent to her by her husband who she refers to as being strong in faith.

“One day he sent an email to me that said this: “On a street corner I saw a cold, shivering girl in a thin dress, with no hope of a decent meal. I got angry and said to God, ‘Why did you permit this? Why don’t you do something about it?’ God replied, ‘I certainly did something about it. I made you.”

Lisa Ling informed her audience about things they were both humored by and completely shocked by.  She ended her speech with a quote from Oprah.  Ling said, “I’m going to tell you what Oprah once told me ‘Now that you know, you can’t pretend you don’t’. ”

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