In this post, I would like to share thoughts that will make some nod their heads in agreement and others to stare at me in my white privilege. This invisible knapsack, supplied with all sorts of memories, advantages, assumptions, influences, and get-out-of-jail-free cards is not the topic I would like to shed light on unfortunately.
Being in Student Affairs, we all share a network; whether this is through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or conferences, to some degree we all share a connection. These connections allow us to train our minds to understand the diversity in thought, opinion, choice, human experience, and other components deemed applicable. These components that form us into who we are, personally and professionally, also guide us in how we respond to triggers and students. In some instances, these responses come through in positive mediums to share with those who come to broaden their horizons; in others, it comes through as a judgmental lecture in which no one enrolled.
Remember, situations should be educational and teachable in either direction, not one. Now, now now, I am a social justice educator as far as my teachings and training have brought me, BUT I also realize that not every situation needs to be brought to the world’s attention. Just as much as people should understand the meaning behind inclusion and human appreciation, an educator needs to know when to stop, remove the oppressive lens, and think. It is not the path in which we take that makes the difference, it is the meaning we make as we traverse the terrain and perceive the landscape (a lens).
I cannot explain why some paths are obstructed with gravel, bordered with flowers, or overrun with lost travelers but I know that sometimes, nature in its unpredictability, will make life what it is with no foul intention. You might be able to plant a seed but in nature, we cannot take a bulldozer to the ground every time we cannot cultivate something; this is where we learn patience and filtration.
For example, when roaming through a convenience store, a person comes to two boxes, one with a white family – mother, father, child and the other a black woman with her child. To some, comments will read as follows, “this is obscene, how can the marketing department do that?” Though I understand the stereotypical beliefs associated with certain individuals in American society, I also understand that other populations share the same fate as single parents. My mother, being one of the strongest people that I know, did not believe that a man would make me a better person or somehow improve who I was as a future man. Even though I have some relationship with my father, I would be more willing and prideful to see a single woman on the advertisement than a family. Again, this is all about perspective not perpetuating hate or stereotypes. So, the question is, why do we need to find some social justice problem or flaw in everything the world does?
All thoughts are my own and tend to provide me with the opportunities to challenge the lessons ingrained in me over time. And though I will continue my Social Justice initiatives to make change, this is a chance to challenge those who share titles/positions/investment in Student Affairs that continue their SJI work as close to the “traditional”* views we all work to discourage. I do not believe that Social Justice is the answer to everything and that conversations with students give me the not always PC, but correct perspective on the power of words.
A word might impact you but their experience could impact that word. Think before you educate, remember before you appreciate, never isolate, and define your intentions before you try to relate.
* “traditional” as defined in my opinion: the lens which sees all situations as educational and the headphones which makes audible all words believed to work against Social Justice missions. This view can cause individuals to confront others or perceive an environment that is neutral but thought to be negative due to isolated cases. Similar to “this is how it has always been done” in various student organizations; we tend to “address it because we have always addressed it.”
> BONUS <
Podcast With Adam Lambert on Clery Act/ Title IX