I wanna sing. I wanna shout. I wanna scream til the words dry out.
I have done a lot of thinking lately especially with the act of terrorism and overt racism that occurred in Charleston, SC yesterday. I have thought about my identity with all of its intersections. I have thought about my future, my career. I have thought about the role I will play in my students growth and development. I have thought a lot.
I’m pretty sure I will complete a concentration in Diversity, Equity and Culture during my time at Miami. In knowing that, I allow my voice to be heard when matters of social justice come up. Whether it is racism, homophobia, islamophobia, immigration, etc, I share information and my thoughts about these injustices and social issues. I know many others who do the same as well. Student Affairs is a place where these conversations are occurring and should be occurring on a regular basis. When the events of Charleston happened, it saddened me to see my peers and future colleagues reactions. Some were silent. Others were outraged. Debates occurred. There was no dialogue. Emotions were running high I completely understand. It shocked me to see peers ask for “logical” arguments instead of ones dipped in emotion and lived experience. How can we as student affairs professionals serve our students and have these conversations about power, privilege and difference if we cannot have them with our peers.
It hurt me to see a divide between my white colleagues and my colleagues of color. As someone who is only just entering the field in a grad student/new professional capacity, it hurt to see people who will be my mentors, colleagues and possible supervisors debate in such a manner. As a person of color, it is hard to think of my white colleagues downplaying acts of racism, transphobia, homophobia, etc. It also hurts me to see my colleagues of color attacking our white colleagues for not understanding. Being a Black Student Affairs Professional has to be hard. Being black in America is hard point black, period. No marginalized group should have to teach others about their oppression. On the flip side, the members of each group should be willing to talk about their experiences at least some. The knowledge has to be out there somewhere.
You’ve got a heart as loud as lions so why let your voice be tamed.
For my white colleagues: Know that some things don’t involve you. The whole #BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter thing is so frustrating. #AllLivesMatter was a way to involve white people in the conversation. Of course all lives matter, but black lives, trans lives, muslim lives have been shown to have little value in our country. Saying #BlackLivesMatter or #TransLivesMatter or #MuslimLivesMatter does not take away from anyone else. It’s a declaration that these groups matter when our society is telling us otherwise. Be an ally. Being white carries such a huge amount of privilege in America. You don’t have to worry about how people are perceiving you. You don’t have to fear for your life every time you get pulled over by the cops. You don’t have to deal with constant micro-agressions on a daily basis. Your race is more than likely one of the last identities you have to think about. Our society was built to put “white” on a pedestal. People of color are constantly thinking about their race, how they are being perceived and what racial stereotypes are being placed on them. Seek knowledge. Ask questions. Educate yourself. Listen to our voices. Hear our stories. Help us make a change. Silence in acts of oppression is consent for oppressors to continue putting down those groups. Don’t be silent.
It’s bout time we got some airplay of our version of events.
For my colleagues of color: This is a trying time for us in America. We are outraged. We are hurt. We are disgusted. We are tired. We must take care of ourselves. We must let our voices be heard. However, we cannot turn away our allies. The same people who are seeking knowledge could be our biggest allies. We’re emotional. Emotions run high when acts of injustice occur. We cannot continue to debate with our peers because our voices won’t be heard. The conversation will then become us vs. them and we don’t want that. Our white colleagues don’t experience the world the same way we do. They have privileges we don’t. In order for them to become allies, we can’t instinctively attack them when they are seeking knowledge. We have to breathe deeply. Be there for each other. Talk about our experiences. Let our voices be heard. Call others into conversation instead of just calling them out. We must learn from the mistakes of the past to enhance our present and ensure for a bright future.
I am super excited to be entering this profession. I know I have plenty of amazing colleagues in the field. I dream of the day when our differences will be celebrated instead of the thing that divides us.
Here is an Emeli Sande song that inspired the title of this blog.
So put it in all of the papers. I’m not afraid. They can read all about it.