Every time the calendar flips from one year to the next, many folks take time to reflect, plan, and goal-set. A new trend emerged in recent years of choosing a word for the New Year. It seems the folks many of us reference on a regular basis took time to choose a word, too – those at Merriman-Webster. The dictionary gurus deemed “-ism” as the word that defined 2015.
As Student Affairs professionals, this suffix is an important part of our everyday language. We are faced with and talk about racism, sexism, feminism, capitalism, terrorism, ageism, and other –isms each day on our campuses. It could happen even more than ever as we enter into this Presidential election year.
While many of us may wish we truly did live in a post-racial society or didn’t need to have/facilitate challenging conversations about social injustice, oppression, and micro-aggressions, unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. That being said, using –ism as our guide, perhaps we use 2016 as a time to not only educate our students but also ourselves.
Sadly many of us have been on the receiving end of negative treatment due to one or more –ism. Our experiences provide us language to talk about the –ism(s) we embody and/or face. However, there may not be one person in the world who is well versed on all of the –isms. There’s nothing wrong with the lists and goals we’ve already set for 2016. But maybe since we are in the business of educating, we can each take a minute to add one thing to our lists – learn about something you don’t identify with. Become better versed in an –ism that hasn’t and may not ever directly affect you, but can very likely affect someone who may walk through your office door tomorrow.
This additional goal may just prove to be the best one on your list.
> BONUS <
Podcast With John Moist on AmeriCorps & Student Affairs