Her craft changed her life: How social justice becomes a career for junior Danyelle Butler

With incense and candles lit, soft music playing and the lighting from her diffuser set just so, junior English major Danyelle Butler’s vibe-heavy home is the perfect peaceful offset to the troubling topics she addresses in her two published works.

“I feel like my writing process is a bit odd,” Butler said. “I tend to reference how actors method act.”

Butler’s books deal heavily with the injustice and inaction surrounding police brutality and racial inequity in America. Pairing this heavy topic with her unique methodology, her writing process sits on the knife-edge between painful and rewarding.

“I would say a lot of Black culture stems from pain,” Butler said. “We take deep rooted pain and we make it into joy, make it into something beautiful.”

A powerful dichotomy, exacerbated further when the act of scrolling through comments on Instagram sparked her to put pen to paper.

“People would be like, ‘It's just another man shot’ – Just making really desensitized and insensitive comments,” Butler said. “It made me feel like, ‘What's going on?’”

Taken aback by the complacency, Butler resolved to craft a story of growth. Interestingly, the series would also serve as a mirror to her own maturation. As she notes, “the first work, I was in high school, and you can really tell I was in high school skill-wise.”

However, Butler made no attempts at hiding this process of long-term development. Instead, she chose to lean in.

“I didn't go back and unwrite it because, as you can see with the two works, my writing gets better. I grow with the character.”

Now more in touch with her artistic self than ever, Butler asserts that Bradley helped her achieve a new level of comfort with her skills. Looking to the future, Butler plans on leveraging this talent and experience at Bradley into placement at a law school, citing her commitment to social justice, tangible change, and her devotion to advocacy.

“To me, law seems like the connective tissue within society,” Butler said. “I feel like I could be making a huge difference in people’s lives no matter what branch of law I choose to adventure down.”

-- Jenevieve Rowley-Davis

Danyelle Butler sitting in front of her laptop