Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Art of Effective Facilitation: Engaging Whiteness in Higher Education

Chapter 5

Chapter 5 is about whiteness and how it plays into racism. The chapter says something that interests me:

We are all responsible for racism because it continues to exist.

This really speaks to me, as a white person. Until RAPP, I was pretty much oblivious to the institutionalized nature of racism. I didn't know, I didn't see. And then I heard my RAPP buddies talking about it, and realized it is still there, it's just more subtle than it used to be. When I was on campus the first time, from 1990-1992, I was very aware of racial tensions. It was hard not to be. Insults were exchanged, and sometimes blows, over racial insults and slurs. It was not a riot, but the racism was overt. But now... Now it's much more subtle, and you can ignore it if you choose to. It was a hard thing for me to admit I have privilege, but now, if I can use that privilege to do something good, I'll be happy to have it.

The chapter also talks a little bit about one of my favorite topics: Intersectionality. I love how everyone is different in the way that their identities intersect with each other. There could be two people with the same identities that are totally different because those identities intersect differently. And I think that's an awesome thing. It's an amazing feeling to be able to be yourself. I've learned that over the years, to be myself. Trying to be someone you're not is uncomfortable and difficult. You end up lying to others about what you think and feel, and presenting a false front to people. I tried to fit in for a lot of years, but now I'm out of the closet, so to speak. I say what I think and think what I say. If you don't like me, that's your loss. That's part of the reason I'm so proud to be partnered with Ali. As a trans man, he is being who he is, even when it's so difficult. I find that his courage inspires my own, in many ways. It makes me more willing than ever to be myself, even if I am a bit weird.

The last thing I want to talk about from the chapter is the way whiteness is homogenized. For some reason, many people, both white and of color, dismiss white people as all being the same, not being a diverse group in their own right. This is seen in people talking about a diverse group when it's white people mixed with people of color. It's like white people can't be diverse among themselves. I don't really think this is done consciously, but it can be a problem. We do need to realize that whites can be as diverse as people of color can be. We need to recognize, as facilitators, that all people are diverse. It seems to me (and this is just my opinion) that there are whites and then other. And other is a diverse group, while whites is not. We're all lumped together, despite having different antecedents and characteristics. I hadn't realized it till it was pointed out to me, but diverse can have many meanings.

No comments:

Post a Comment