Dialogues across difference have the potential to be more successful when each person in the conversation can bring their whole self to the table, consciously face how the problem relates to their lives and then communicate productively across those different experiences. My dream is that college campuses will live up to their possibility of being spaces where students are inspired to change the world. I want student affairs professionals and higher education administrators to create environments where we will multiply the spaces where people can show up as their authentic selves and be valued.
I want conversations where people have genuinely spoken truth from various points of view and for that to be the basis for action. As I reflected back on my keynote address, I realize that the audience may not have had any context for my comments. Many may not have known that the conference organizers asked me to speak about revolution nor that my research and theoretical work focuses on bringing oneself to the subject matter. I imagine without that context that my discussion of revolution might have seemed particularly raw.
In the field of higher education, I realize that in the current social and political climate that it is difficult to talk about race and racism. It conjures up feelings of fear and helplessness.
It harkens up images of violence from the past and present seen in the media. It reminds us that it is difficult to make a difference as one person. I realize that these are not quite the emotions you want to feel as you leave an opening to a conference.
My comments likely inspired conference attendees to be pensive rather than encouraged and affirmed. Even though I know student affairs professionals and higher education administrators are doing great work in the field, I believe we have to speak truth from many different perspectives about the state of our country. I am not a militant, but I channel one when I teach. Naming my truth as a Black person living in this country can seem combative or aggressive.
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It is hard for me to hear it as militant because I am generally an optimist. I view the challenges I face with racism as opportunities to learn and develop. Living with the consequences of racism is just the reality of what I live every day. As a teacher, I am a fierce protector of creating spaces to name the truth even if it is uncomfortable.
Similar to bell hooks; I invite my students my children, colleagues, conference attendees, friends, family, etc. I boldly reveal to them how the current state of race relations in our country affects me and how I work to survive the dehumanizing aspects. To avoid the overwhelming feelings of fear and helplessness, I actively work to shift my own thinking. It is my hope that by shifting my own thinking that I can actively contribute to the change that I want to see in the world.
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I began my keynote address by sharing my state of mind. As an African American cis-female scholar, I have a complex and overwhelming story.
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Racism laces my day-to-day professional and personal life. As a scholar, I am one of the few African American full professors at my institution and in our field. I often feel isolated. As a parent, I am raising two African American male children.
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I fear for their lives daily. I wonder what would happen if we treated racism as a disease that we fight as aggressively as we do cancer. Considering my identity and experiences, it is impossible for me to show up as my whole self without feeling my rage and revealing how disturbed I am by the state of our nation. The events of late that include major acts of violence e.
These events reveal the fault lines in our country and our world. These lines show an increase in tension between polarizing views, particularly along racial lines in the United States. Further, these divides unmask that many of our citizens lack the skills to be in controversy in productive ways to solve social problems that lead to the persistent violence. It is my hope that we will learn how to communicate in meaningful ways about racism and other social ills that are products of the fear, hatred and misunderstanding of cultural difference.
In light of the protests and political unrest, I needed to find a way to shift my state of mind. I want to find ways to talk about the truths that are close to our heart and yet may be vastly different from our neighbors. I briefly describe and offer questions below for reflection.
I talk about my frustration, my deep sadness, and overwhelming anger. I name it. We all have a mode we get into when we are trying to accomplish something. You may put earbuds in to drown out noise. Maybe you find a place of solitude away from people and distractions. It is all about positioning yourself to be productive without anything or anyone interfering with your goals or train of thought. But I often wonder if we do that with God.
We can get so regimented in life we lose our sensitivity to where the Lord is leading us.
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As a church community, we are embarking into a six-week series with one goal and one prayer encapsulated in one word: Interruption. Interrupt our status quo. Interrupt our bias of what we think of the Holy Spirit. Interrupt our hate of ourselves and others.
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Interrupt our plans. Interrupt the things we feel captive to. Holy Spirit, interrupt us and show us Your glory. John NLT. Sign in to add your private notes….