Chapter 8 hit home in some ways for me, because I have been wrestling with the idea of safe spaces in social justice education. I don't see how to both have an honest conversation where everyone can participate and also have a safe space. This is not to say that I don't think there should be ground rules. I think there should. However, I just don't see any way to create a space that is both safe and challenging for participants. These conversations about isms are SUPPOSED to be uncomfortable in some ways. And safe spaces don't allow for substantial discomfort. So how do the authors of this week's chapter bring these two ideas to bear on each other?
They talk about creating instead Brave Spaces, where participants can challenge each other (respectuflly) and really have those conversations about power and privilege. One thing the author pointed out that I don't think everyone remembers is that the discussions we have as a part of this come from our own dominant and subordinated identities. Each of us has both, and so each of us needs to think a bit more on what we're doing.Why are we resistent to having a certain conversation? Are we too tired to formulate our thoughts? Are we not sure what our opinion is? Are we resistent because the new idea introduced threatens our world view? If we want to jump into a conversation we can ask ourselves about that too. Why are we so eager to be heard? Are we defending our power and privilege? Are we eager to share with others so they can learn from us, or do we want to prove our point and preserve the status quo? These are all questions we need to ask when we decide when to participate and when not to participate.
I think, and this is just my opinion, that we NEED to challenge ourselves and our world view. If we don't, we're not learning much. This is something that is hard for me to do. I have this problem where I don't actually notice my whiteness and privilege. I KNOW I have it when I think about it, but it rarely crosses my mind. (One of my goals this year is to make myself more aware of my privilege and use it to further my social justice aims.) I need to challenge this view that I have that hard work pays off because it doesn't always, dependant on your group (dominant or subordinated). I'm not sure where this part of my world view comes from. It could come from the same place my privilege comes from. It may also come from my idealist nature. (That's the way the world SHOULD work, so it must work that way.) I'm having a hard time placing it. I want to say it's my idealism at work, but it could easily be my privilege since I don't tend to notice it.
Those are some of my takeaways from this chapter, and I've expanded on them quite a bit this week. I had several hours of tossing and turning last night (I had a bad asthma day yesterday, and so, since struggling to breathe wears me out, I slept most of the day. Then I went to bed at my normal time last night and woke up at three am wide awake. So I used the time to read some of the chapter and reflect on it while I tried to go back to sleep.), so I got quite a lot done in the middle of the night. (It's about the only time I HAVE for reflection.) Anyways, I'll be blogging again in a few minutes about an article Brice found and wanted us to share our thoughts on, so I'm gonna post this, then get to work on the next thing.