I’m sure we can all remember the days when we were in elementary and middle school and bullying either happened to us or someone we knew. If you used to watch kids shows on TV, bullying was defined as lunch money taken away, name calling, being pushed around in the school yard, and people getting forced to do someone else’s homework.
On the Stop Bullying website, they address three different types of bullying: verbal, social, and physical.
If you don’t get anything else from this post, get this: Bullying is rooted in -isms: lookism, racism, sexism, genderism, classism, ageism, ableism, ethnocentrism, and unfortunately, I can go on and on.
I remember being bullied and while I was younger, I didn’t understand the significance about it the way I do now. I’m from New York City and I primarily went to elementary and middle school with students of color. My peers used to call me “Blacky” or “King Kong” because of my darker complexion and because I had side burns. I knew boys when I was younger who used to be picked on because “they acted like a girl.” I would hope by now that if you are reading this, you are beginning to draw the connections between being bullying and oppression.
A couple of weeks ago, a group of Black Student Affairs Professionals (#BLKSAP) came together as a collective and shared articles, videos, pictures and even personal stories that addressed racism, white privilege, and other –isms that the Student Affairs Professionals Facebook Group continues to uphold. What really stood out to me was the strength that people had about sharing their stories about bullying within their workplace, but how disappointing it was that these situations were happening to them.
Student Affairs Professionals, I want to call you out. Bullying exists in our field and is demonstrated through aggressive actions and/or passive actions. Bullying has transgressed from being in our faces to appearing in online spaces, to police the tone of someone else because they feel offended even if the topic was on cultural appropriation, or where someone can target someone for trying to use their talents to get through a job search.
One of the tweets I made during that chat reads: “If we’re gonna talk about bullying, we need to be better about supporting our marginalized #SApros who endure it constantly. #sachat”
I truly believe that, I really do. There are people who work in student affairs who have historically underrepresented and marginalized identities that work in spaces where they are tokenized, isolated literally and figuratively, and who still have to work with people who question their lived experiences. I’m going to let you all in on a little secret… These people used to be students who probably experienced bullying in similar ways and settings.
To those who participated in the #SAChat on “Bullying in Student Affairs” and who wrote a tweet similar to this statement: “Bullying happens everywhere”, we must do better. WE MUST DO BETTER. There is absolutely no reason why we should be complacent about bullying especially when we work in institutions and are members of professional organizations who claim to value diversity and inclusion. We are working in a field that has great influence on how students will approach society after they graduate. We need to ensure that we are educating ourselves and others on these isms, and we need not be afraid to call individuals out when they appear to be bullying others.