not so isolated…

not so random…

July 16, 2015
by Jessica
0 comments

Just Because You Didn’t know Doesn’t Make it New

This has been a repeating theme over the last few weeks.  Just because you didn’t know about something doesn’t make it new. It is new to you. Yes. This doesn’t mean it is new to the world.

It is our responsibility to work on self awareness to the point that we can identify three things…
1) what do I know
2) what do I know I don’t know
3) what don’t I know I don’t know
People didn’t know that Caitlyn Jenner was going to happen let alone be the cover of a popular magazine.  The photographers and stylists were told that they would be working with a very tall person.  Now, they know. Oh.
There is WAY more information that we don’t know we don’t know that even the information that we know we don’t know.  This is something we must get comfortable with.  June 5th, on CSPANs Washington Journal, Mara Keisling, Executive Director of The National Center for Transgender Equality, was asked about who actually wrote the laws about the use of tax payers dollars paying for the medical needs of those in prison, her answer wasn’t intended to be snarky – it is true.  The answer is Thomas Jefferson.
My suggestion is to approach something new with an attitude that it is new to you – and perhaps not new to others.  Our entitlement to know everything is really a great moment to practice taking responsibility for our privileges.  When you ask yourself (or others) “Why didn’t I know about this?” Perhaps take a second to give yourself some space to breathe and reality that you were ignorant to something and now have a moment to become less ignorant. Being ignorant doesn’t immediately equate to being hateful – that is up to how we react to our new found ignorance.  Try to respond (at first or second) with, “Huh, I didn’t know that.”  It is a calmer place to enter into a learning moment or even a conversation.
We use this same skill in other cases where there is “less on the line.”  Like – when you meet someone that mentions a certain date and you immediately share that the same date is also your cousin’s birthday!  How exciting – neither of you knew that before right then.  And, let’s be honest, it usually doesn’t matter after that moment.  We are ok, not knowing everything until we come to a situation where we feel like we are supposed to know everything.  Bonus – we can control this reaction.
If you get a chance – watch the whole 30 minutes program – it might be educational for you if not helpful for you when educating someone else about this new topic for some.  Plus, when in doubt, just blame Thomas Jefferson.

Copyright 2015, Jessica Pettitt. Jessica Pettitt is the “diversity educator” your family warned you about. Through teaching, writing, and facilitating tough conversations, she has figured out how to BE the change she wants to BE. Now it is your turn!
As she travels around the country, you can catch up with Jessica on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamsocialjustice?ref=ts
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/pettittjess
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/iamsocialjustice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jesspettitt

May 21, 2015
by Jessica
0 comments

#TBT Throw Back Thursday (January 2010)

From another isolated incident newsletter archives

Another Isolated Incident — how many times have you seen some form of oppression — or maybe it is just something “weird” that happened to someone else? It is so much easier to believe that the event is an oddity instead of seeing the connections of a pattern of oppression in the world.  There is no such thing as multiple isolated events… it is oppression — loud and clear. So, what can be done in 2010? Doing anything different will get something different — one change at a time! Here’s to the on-going and continued dismantling of oppression — in all of its forms — from both our places and spaces of subordination and dominance.

Jess

Reflections from the Road:
Wake or Awake

I recently was reminded of a learning that I thought I had mastered concerning why I do what I do and who it is impacting. I thought for a long time that my actions and services were to make others better. I felt that by facilitating trainings and planning programs I created or held a space for others to learn and grow. I believed that this was my purpose in the world.

I still believe that I am able to hold spaces for the learning of others. I have added to this belief that the impact that I can control only extends itself to my learning. My actions leave a wake behind me and these experiences keep me awake in my present and into my future.

Last spring, I had the privilege of speaking at my alma mater and I had an experience while on campus that got my attention to examine my idea of impact and my control of impact. I thought that this learning was pretty firm in my way of being. When I was in college, I brought back a week long program of community service that had been a campus tradition several decades earlier. Last spring, a decade after I graduated, I ate lunch with several student leaders, one of which was sharing with me that she was working really hard to bring back this week long program focusing on community service. She even said that it had been a tradition many decades earlier. Immediately, I felt like she was stealing my legacy on campus. Did she even know who she was talking to? My program was so successful, how could she not know about me? How could the program have disappeared so that she has to “bring it back?”

I realized after some deep reflection that bringing this program back during my undergraduate years, had made a lasting impact on me and my life. Perhaps I hadn’t done enough development of future leaders, or maybe I did and just so much time had passed that my work had been forgotten by those left on campus. What was important was that I hadn’t forgotten. That experience stayed with me and stays with me — as it will with her. Good. I learned more about myself and then I moved on to the next self-lesson…

A few months ago, while at the Out & Greek Conference, I found myself faced with this same lesson again. One of the students in attendance, from an institution where I had worked, caught me in between sessions to ask me for advice about his campus. He shared that no one on his campus had ever done any programming on social justice for students. He even declared the need for similar work to be done with faculty, staff, and the surrounding community. This participant was all fired up about new initiatives that he was going to start once he returned to campus after the conference.

Immediately, I found myself running through the programs, focus groups, town halls, workshops, on campus for students, faculty, and staff, as well as the surrounding community (over 40) that I facilitated in the 9 months that I was on that campus. I compiled the faces of multiple people on that campus who actively confront and incorporate issues of social justice in and out of the classroom. I then remembered — wake vs awake. I have control only of myself. This amazing professional experience still impacts me today. Residual ripples of the work I did on that campus may or may not have lead to on-going or new programming initiatives, professional positions, etc., just as the work before me opens the doors of opportunity for my experience. In that moment, I was able to see the great eagerness this student had to do good work in his realm of influence and it renewed my own.

In my wake there are many nameless others, just as I am nameless to those who preceded me.  It is in my awake state that I can continue to learn and grow as I teach others and myself.

As a new decade begins, I resolve that I will focus on my awakeness in my present sense of self. After completing The Landmark Forum (which I highly recommend), I continue with one learning in my awakeness. I am a human being. I must be the change I want to be in the world. Once I am awake to this changed world, I can do all that is congruent with how I want to be. It is only then that I will have full peace and love. I will no longer live a life under the guise that if I have this and that, and do something or don’t do something else, that I will be happy. I am fully awake and welcome my fullest self into my future.

How to Be an Ally to Transgender and People with an Intersex Condition
Do not assume that a trans person is lesbian, gay, or bisexual, or that the person will seek to transition to become heterosexual.

Top 10 Issues I Get To Address While Holding A Microphone… That You Might Regret Asking Me
One of the scariest truths is that once I am given a microphone, I can and am often encouraged to “speak my truth with care.” This section highlights some of my most passionate thoughts about some of the toughest questions I get asked. Enjoy.

How do I make others care?
You can’t. It doesn’t matter how funny or clever or smart or cute I am, I have learned that I can’t make people care or join forces with me or even get energized. I can’t make this happen. I can try to energize and mobilize myself and role model for others, but ultimately, the only thing I can control is myself and that is a full time job. What is really cool about making change, is that I have learned that I can attempt to make change in my own life and can make progress in my own life without needing others, financial resources, or theme parties. All I need is just me, my understanding of how I show up, and at least 10% of my attention to make real change in my own behaviors, emotions, and judgments. I just have to make myself care.

WANT MORE?? visit www.anotherisolatedincident.com and sign up for my FREE newsletter!

Download my FREE app (iPhone and Android based) just search for Jessica Pettitt!
http://www.fewerpixels.com/portfolio/jessica-pettitt/

Participate in the next Go There! call… just click on “do something” when you are on my site.


Copyright 2015, Jessica Pettitt. Jessica Pettitt is the “diversity educator” your family warned you about. Through teaching, writing, and facilitating tough conversations, she has figured out how to BE the change she wants to BE. Now it is your turn!
As she travels around the country, you can catch up with Jessica on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamsocialjustice?ref=ts
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/pettittjess
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/iamsocialjustice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jesspettitt

May 14, 2015
by Jessica
0 comments

#TBT Throw Back Thursday (April 2011)

From another isolated incident newsletter archives

Another Isolated Incident

Here we go again! Am I talking about Congress on the budget, increasing gas prices, bombing Libya, or Britney Spears’s new album? Either way, history repeats itself and since we didn’t learn our lesson last time we act surprised and pretend that it is the first time for this to occur… therefore — another isolated incident makes as much sense as it doesn’t. Welcome to April!

Reflections from the Road:
It’s complicated and true

Facebook allows a member to list their relationship status as “It’s Complicated.” It’s complicated can mean many different things to many different people. There might be room for follow up questions, but sometimes the more questions you ask the more confusing it might be. This brings me to truth and the need for truth to be validated by others to have meaning. It is key to have validation from others — others get me — all of me is welcome or at least this part of me — and the more complicated the truth is the harder it is to get consistent validation.

I recently stumbled into this line of questioning and was really flustered and taken off guard. I decided to take this moment and figure out who else feels like this regularly and had a pretty powerful realization. It’s complicated and true.

In my newest keynote, If Not Us, Then Who? I tell a story about Zack, my seven-year-old roommate. Zack and his mother have lived with my husband and I for over a year now. They needed housing, and with California’s budget cuts, the extra income was a good fit for all involved, so as a married couple we got roommates. In the keynote, I tell a story about me not really liking children, and that I have learned a lot from Zack because I really listen to him. I show his picture in my powerpoint and generally get lots of “ahhhhhhs” from the young women in the audience. This time I started getting texts asking me about my relationship to Zack and why I would have a roommate. When I reviewed my texts, I almost thought that participants thought I had kidnapped him or something because that would make more sense to them than me having a seven-year-old roommate. Why would a married couple have roommates? I also came out during this keynote as a lesbian, which seemed to be ok, until I mentioned having a husband, and then everyone’s head exploded. I literally could hear gasps from the participants. “Yes, it is true,” I said, “I am a lesbian and am legally married to a man that I am madly in love with. If this is confusing for you imagine what it is like for us.” I then move on.

It is complicated and true.

I worried that these complications that are true in my life could have been avoided. I could say that Zack is my nephew, or use a picture of my nephew and say that I learned this particular story from a different child. That wouldn’t be true, but it wouldn’t be so complicated. Plus, I can have a nephew and not be considered a kidnapper. I could say partner instead of husband, but it has taken me 3 or more years to get used to using the word husband and I find myself now, very proud to be his wife. I could also pretend that I don’t listen to children and that I am single. That might make participants feel better by not even ruffling their feathers to begin with. However, this is complicated and false.

I challenged myself to listen for other groups or individuals that might feel like this and use this as a learning moment instead of re-writing my speech full of lies and omissions. I landed at biracial/multiracial identified people. I tried to imagine what it would be like to identify as more than one racial group that is possibly validated by outsiders and even insiders. A biracial person may “pass” as a member of one racial group and be validated by others in this group as a legitimate member. This then erases or silences the complicated truth of not passing in another group that is also true or at least not having others in another group validate your own complicated identity. Even more interesting to me is that racial identification of one’s parents or extended family isn’t always known for an individual due to adoption, passing parents, secrecy, and other complicated truths.

It’s complicated and true.

Ways Homophobia & Transphobia Affect Straight People

  1. Homophobia and transphobia can cause youth to become sexually active before they are ready in order to prove they are “normal.” This can lead to an increase in unwanted pregnancies and STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
  2. Homophobia and transphobia prevent vital information on sex and sexuality to be readily available in classrooms, medical offices, and other educational venues. Without this information, LGBTQI people are putting themselves at a greater risk for HIV and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

For more info, see Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price, edited by Warren J. Blumenfeld, Boston: Beacon Press: 1992.

Personal Assessment of Homophobia

Homophobia and Transphobia may be experienced and expressed by LGBTQI people as well as heterosexual people. There are many kinds of homophobia and transphobia that happen every day. We often overlook more subtle actions and exclusions because they may seem insignificant. They are not. Subtle homophobia and transphobia are still homophobia and transphobia.

  1. If someone you care about were to say to you “I think I’m gay,” would you suggest that the person see a therapist? What if they told you that the gender assigned to them at birth did not “feel right”?

Modified by CU-Boulder Safe Zone 2005. Adapted by UNC-CH Safe Zone 2003. Written by A. Elfin Moses and Robert O. Hawkins, Jr.; Downloaded from UC Boulder’s website www.q-resources.org/ally_ personal_assessment.php.

Be a Leader. Be Informed. Be Involved.

Campus PrideCampus Pride represents the only national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students. The organization is a volunteer-driven network “for” and “by” student leaders. The primary objective of Campus Pride is to develop necessary resources, programs and services to support LGBT and ally students on college campuses across the United States.  Campus Pride envisions campuses and a society free of LGBT prejudice, bigotry and hate. It works to develop student leaders, campus networks, and future actions to create such positive change. Learn more.

WANT MORE?? visit www.anotherisolatedincident.com and sign up for my FREE newsletter!

Download my FREE app (iPhone and Android based) just search for Jessica Pettitt!
http://www.fewerpixels.com/portfolio/jessica-pettitt/

Participate in the next Go There! call… just click on “do something” when you are on my site.



Copyright 2015, Jessica Pettitt. Jessica Pettitt is the “diversity educator” your family warned you about. Through teaching, writing, and facilitating tough conversations, she has figured out how to BE the change she wants to BE. Now it is your turn!
As she travels around the country, you can catch up with Jessica on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamsocialjustice?ref=ts
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/pettittjess
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/iamsocialjustice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jesspettitt

May 7, 2015
by Jessica
0 comments

#TBT Throw Back Thursday (July 2012)

From another isolated incident newsletter archives

Another month has gone by — how did that happen? I hear something about the rotation of the planets around the sun — but really — what happened to last month? WOW. Fortunately we are in the same new places and some of the same circumstances happen too. Patterns of old habits and the introduction of new stuff — question is how long can the new stuff be new before it becomes just part of the old? Welcome to yet another — another isolated incident!

Now what… Do something!

shelves

The summer time is often a catch up time for those of us who work in the education arena. In my life — around November I start thinking of all the things I am going to accomplish over Fall Break. I end up sleeping, resting, eating, lounging, laughing, and then poof — I am back at it. Shocked I then quickly make a list of what I need to do over Winter Break. I make folders, files, piles, stacks, check lists… I am all set. Somehow, I start having to gather things for taxes and thinking of the next year. I make resolutions, project timelines for the year, set up my new budget, and then before I know it, I am looking forward to Spring Break. As I am recovering from St. Patrick’s Day festivities, I stumble across the dusty lists, folders, piles, and such and get determined to make it to summer. Summer is also a great opportunity for professional development, trainings, conferences, and the like. Going through reading piles outdoors is not a bad life. Finding the bottom of your inbox jamming out to favorite high school albums until 3am because you don’t have anywhere to be tomorrow — this is bliss! It is now July. Sorry for the abrupt news flash — but summer is almost over. Now what… Do Something!

Please don’t put your conference materials up on a shelf somewhere to gather dust. Something that seemed pertinent in November may not be that big of a deal now — let it go. Little things like “organize office” sit on my to-do list for years… it is organized — it is on a list. What I want to focus on today is Do Something. You have accumulated a lot of ideas, methods, readings, plans, lists, and now — it is time to actually get something done. This is hard — it is a new element that has to become a part of your old pattern — so just pick one thing. Create something you believe in that will make your life better. Don’t waste the opportunity of fostering new ideas by letting them just stay ideas — let’s get to work on one thing!

My pal Billy Boulden is doing just this and I invite you to participate too! Billy and I first met in the Campus Activities context of NACA — in between balloon hats and college student faces painted like tigers, we would exchange greetings. It was nice to see a familiar (and unpainted) face. Then we co-facilitated a program together with some other amazing presenters and we got to know each other a little more. Now I am a part of an idea he had and that he is running with.

Billy has started Values or Not! as a blog and monthly conference call where we, within the fraternal movement — and beyond — can have reading groups, discussions, resource swaps, and the like on really tough subjects centering on our personal or organizational values. I heart me some Billy and I invite you to participate. There is a possibility that this won’t take off — won’t last very long — won’t come up with any grand conclusions — etc. — AND Billy isn’t just putting his IFI experience on a shelf — he is taking an idea to the next level. Let’s support him and let’s provide a space for us all to do something new. Before we know it — it is going to be summer again — we should do something now.

From Billy (bboulden@fsu.edu):

I will be starting a professional development conversation called Values or Not! The idea behind the program is that whether we are truly following our Values or Not! there are some important conversations that need to take place and are often taking place. I have enlisted the help of Jessica Pettitt (iamsocialjustice.com) to get the conversation started.

Here is how it will work. Topics will be determined and announced in advance. Some light reading material will be provided on the topic. Then, those interested will hop on a conference call and have at it. You could call it a facilitated conversation. Hopefully, it will inspire some professional development/learning and also determine best practices.

So join Jessica Pettitt, myself, and hopefully many others for Values or Not!: What makes a brother a brother? On August 8th at 4:00pm EST. This conversation will begin the dialogue on gender inclusiveness in fraternity and sorority life. We will discuss whether fraternities and sororities are sex based organizations or gender based organizations. How do we as professionals facilitate an environment in which cisgender students feel comfortable in joining the community? How do masculine and feminine roles play a part in our communities?

Now I recognize, this is a loaded conversation and actually several topics but we want to start the conversation somewhere. For the first call we will see where the conversation takes us and will use subsequent monthly calls to further elaborate on conversation topics until we decide to change it up.

Anyone can join the call so please feel free to share the information. I will be happy to post reminders about the call but if you want to get the reading material you will need to register by filling out this form.

I’ve invited you to fill out the form Values or Not!. To fill it out, click here.

Hope you consider joining us!

Social Justice Quotations That Keep Me Going:
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical disease with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.”
Mother Teresa [Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu]

From Rachel Maddow’s Show:
The wealth inequality chart

Wealth Inequality Chart

Read more…

WANT MORE?? visit www.anotherisolatedincident.com and sign up for my FREE newsletter!

Download my FREE app (iPhone and Android based) just search for Jessica Pettitt!
http://www.fewerpixels.com/portfolio/jessica-pettitt/

Participate in the next Go There! call… just click on “do something” when you are on my site.


Copyright 2015, Jessica Pettitt. Jessica Pettitt is the “diversity educator” your family warned you about. Through teaching, writing, and facilitating tough conversations, she has figured out how to BE the change she wants to BE. Now it is your turn!
As she travels around the country, you can catch up with Jessica on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamsocialjustice?ref=ts
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/pettittjess
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/iamsocialjustice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jesspettitt

April 30, 2015
by Jessica
0 comments

#TBT Throw Back Thursday (March 2012)

From another isolated incident newsletter archives

Another month! This month has been a very innovative month for me! I am realizing that I have a story about myself not being very tech savvy, and now I have an app (iPhone, Android, and Blackberry), soon a product on DVD, a consulting team, and other projects underway that completely utilize my tech knowledge and the know how of even more techie people. These aren’t isolated incidents — even though there are lots of them. I might need to change my self narrative. Having an app isn’t another isolated incident of technology — it is who I am.

Reflections from the Road: Vulnerability

This is particularly interesting for me as I think this is something I struggle with on many many levels. Vulnerability is as much about strength as it is weakness — humility and pride — empathy and bragging — hiding and sharing. All of these are true. Vulnerability is going where one is uncomfortable as often as possible for the mutual benefit of others.

streetVulnerability may be about bringing emotion to a particular context or relationship. I think about Hillary Clinton’s comment before the New Hampshire Primary several years ago where she showed some emotion and stated that running for president wasn’t just a goal — but something personal about her vision of the world. Newt Gingrich answered a question before 2012’s Iowa Caucus in response to his mother’s death that showed him as a Momma’s Boy with emotion and a moment of humility. Sometimes the emotion comes up in the listener — this makes me think about the side stories produced during the Olympics and professional sports shows that give the background to particular athletes. These side stories paint a broader, usually more complicated picture of the person participating in a sport that allow an observer to know a little more.

Sometimes vulnerability is about sharing struggles, challenges, weaknesses, regrets, mistakes, negative lived experiences and the like. There is a fine line here, at least in my upbringing, in that you don’t want to be the person who has always had it harder or worse than the person(s) you are in conversation with. You don’t want to risk being a whiner, grey clouds, whoa is me kind of person. You know the type — you hand them a bag of money and they complain about how heavy it is… this was the worst thing you could do in my family. Maybe the only thing worse would be to make others feel bad. Like sharing too much in a manner than makes others feel less than, unaccomplished, uncomfortable, awkward, invisible, under or devalued in exchange for your own boasting and ego inflation.

Vulnerability may also be about understating one’s experiences, accomplishments, etc., out of respect for others who have more to share. This could just be about being willing to learn from others. It could be an act of vulnerability to provide space for someone else to share their experiences that at times might look like permitting someone to brag or boast. It is all about perspective.

I remember when I was living in Oregon, I was trying to date online. In my profile, I stated that traveling was important to me and that I was looking for the same in the other person. I didn’t list off the countries or continents that I visited or lived in and looked forward to hearing my dates’ travel stories and sharing mine. When one of my online dates shared their world travels that began and ended with Idaho (no offense to Idaho), I didn’t know how to talk about Kenya, Mongolia, and living in Eastern Europe. So I didn’t say anything at all — I didn’t want to be rude. This isn’t being vulnerable or engaging in a conversation — this is shutting down and judging another based on my experience.

Empathy, even well-intentioned, can also be misplaced in vulnerable moments. Shortly after coming home from the Peace Corps in Bulgaria, right before leaving for graduate school, I was in my home town at the neighborhood Tom Thumb Grocery Store. My best friend in ninth and tenth grade was working the cash register as I was checking out and recognized me before I recognized her. I have worked as a cashier in a grocery store and it is a hard hard job that isn’t valued enough by others. Even with this knowledge, my former best friend was excited to tell me about her multiple divorces, kids, and how she was living at home and working on her associate degree. I found myself not knowing how to answer her when she asked, “So, what have you been up to?” I didn’t know how to respond, well, I graduated, fled the state of Texas to go to college, double major, teach, just got home from the Peace Corps in Bulgaria, and am just home for a few days before heading out to a summer job and then graduate school. So I said nothing. Actually, I think, I did even worse, and said, “Oh, well, you know the usual.” I am certain that I didn’t want to hurt her feelings or her ego — and what I did instead was close off any possibility of us having a real conversation. This is the very person who used to do my bangs because I didn’t know how to use a curling iron. We literally burnt a hole in my Beta version of Top Gun watching the volleyball scene too many times. We acted out the entire Dirty Dancing movie over and over again. We were tight. In my feeble attempt to not boast or brag, I judged her through my “better than you” lenses and closed our relationship off right there.

Vulnerability isn’t just about keeping connections or staying open to real conversations or even sharing too much about yourself. It isn’t about sharing emotions, crying, or awkward moments of discomfort. Vulnerability is about building a bridge to someone else and then bravely crossing it first to get to the other side. It isn’t about waiting for them to come to you. “Leap and the net will appear.” I have no idea where this sound bite came from, but it makes me think of Indiana Jones. In one of those movies, Indiana Jones takes a step in what looks like a giant canyon and there is a land bridge crossing to the other side. Vulnerability is risking losing it all to gain nothing. It is the pink under belly we hide from ourselves that others can see. It is in the space between the truth others know about you that you have yet to discover about yourself. Vulnerability is the difference between a welcome mat out of your comfort zone and being a part of a Welcome Wagon. It is me asking questions and listening to a native Oregonian about Idaho-based adventures. Being vulnerable is me asking about an old friend’s children and what makes her life so joyful that she beams.

Here is to building bridges, walking across them ourselves, helping others across, leaving trail markers behind you so others can follow, and just being present to taking it all in. Authenticity, Generosity, Curiosity, and Vulnerability — the building blocks to changing the world — I promise.

Social Excellence: We Dare You; How Handshakes Can Change the World

Phired Up’s new book, Social Excellence is a philosophy, a way to approach your days, a lifestyle. Characterized by handssocial excellencehakes, deep, meaningful conversations, and heart-to-heart connections, people who choose Social Excellence as their lifestyle understand that human connection is the key to changing the world. Learn more…

Social Justice Quotations That Keep Me Going:

“In order to prevent chronic discomfort, Whites may learn not to notice.”
Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” And Other Conversations About Race

WANT MORE?? visit www.anotherisolatedincident.com and sign up for my FREE newsletter!

Download my FREE app (iPhone and Android based) just search for Jessica Pettitt!
http://www.fewerpixels.com/portfolio/jessica-pettitt/

Participate in the next Go There! call… just click on “do something” when you are on my site.

 


Copyright 2015, Jessica Pettitt. Jessica Pettitt is the “diversity educator” your family warned you about. Through teaching, writing, and facilitating tough conversations, she has figured out how to BE the change she wants to BE. Now it is your turn!
As she travels around the country, you can catch up with Jessica on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamsocialjustice?ref=ts
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/pettittjess
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/iamsocialjustice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jesspettitt

April 23, 2015
by Jessica
0 comments

#TBT Throw Back Thursday (March 2010)

From another isolated incident newsletter archives

Recently at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Ryan Sorba was booed off the stage.  At a conservative conference, Ryan called out CPAC for inviting Go Proud to the conference.  Go Proud is an LGBT Conservative organization.  Sorba baited his booing audience by saying, “The lesbians at Smith College protest better than you.”  He justified his stance against homosexuality with the following logic. “Civil Rights are grounded in National Rights which are grounded in Human Nature which is rational and solely based on reproduction.”  This clear explanation helped me connect dots that I thought I was pretty familiar and got to reexamine through the Another Isolated Incident lens.

 

I call this newsletter Another Isolated Incident because that is what I hear over and over again when someone is trying to explain away a pattern of oppression.  After listening to Sorba at CPAC, I realized that I have been looking at conservatives as only a pattern of oppression.  I expect all conservatives to use what to me seems like rabbit hole logic, be homophobic, and uninvolved.  Not only was Sorba involved (what was he doing at Smith College?), but the conference attendees were engaged.  There was disagreement, controversy, discussion, and exchange of ideas a from different perspectives.  To be non-heterosexual and conservative must be tough.  This audience reaction was stunning to me because I forgot.  I blindly assumed patterns.  These patterns I can explain away or validate. Bypassing this learning moment for me, would be a huge mistake.  I can’t let learning lessons be another isolated incident.

Jesswebsite

Visit iamsocialjustice.com cuz the store front is open!
That’s right! Zoey and Jesse have been promoted and have learned how to use Paypal. If you order in the month of March — you have a special present!  For every dollar you spend, you will get a copy of a social justice perpetual calendar included with your order! Woot Woot!

Reflections from the Road: Invitation
Margaret Wheatley, in The World Cafe, speaks of the feeling of invitation as being, “rooted in the host’s awareness that everyone is needed, that anyone might contribute something that suddenly sparks a collective insight.”

Tonight I accepted my invitation. Kristin Skarie facilitated a discussion at LeaderShape Lead Retreat asking us, “Why do we do our work?” She invited us to build a just, caring, and thriving world. I’m on board.

First, I needed to reflect on the privilege that I have that allows me to do this work. Working for myself, I wake up, eat, work out, play, write, read, etc., when I want. Friends know when they call me to ask me what state am I in and whether I am on vacation, at a conference, or on a campus. I do what I want to do pretty much when I want. Money may be tight, and I need to remember this, it is tight because of the choices I make for my life and my spending/saving habits.

In February 2010’s newsletter, I highlighted the Double D Diner and my friends’ “One Less Meal” idea. Here you donate a meal and the money goes to a shelter. While we were in New Orleans, my friend and a small group did a “drop off” at a shelter. I decided to invite myself into realizing how far away I am from not having a roof over my head. Even when money is tight, I have lines of credit, friends, and family that would and could assist me for a while, before being homeless. Dear friends of mine, who are highly educated, employable, and super motivated to work and work hard, have been virtually homeless over the past two years and landed themselves their own place just recently. I have invited myself to sit in a paradox – I have a lot of resources and privilege that allows me to not have to worry about being in need AND I am not immune to financial disaster. Upon further reflection, I think I have had a life practice of preparing to face a potential disaster than actually dealing with crisis.

Why do we do this work? This is a tough question in the sense, for me, I had to break through the chatter like responses and get to the real answers. I wanted to find the answers that actually make me get on airport shuttles at 3am, skip meals to adjust to time zone changes, and collect 3 oz bottle of home.  Why do I really do this work?

I invite you to ask yourself the same question. Keep pushing to uncover your truth. This truth is steeped in privilege, education, access, inherited social privilege, as well as challenges, disasters, crisis; The truth is both love and fear.

After lots of excavating – here is my truth.

Why do I do this work?

  • I change life perspectives.
  • I hold spaces for the most silenced of voices.
  • I uncover the falsehoods of impossibility.
  • My work is a constant reflection of who I am being in the world.
  • My soul vibrates.

I am handing you a fancy envelope with embossed lettering. You are invited to reconnect, reengaged, reexamine, and return to your purpose. In the words of Pema Chondron, “We don’t set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people’s hearts.”

Top 10 Issues I Get To Address While Holding A Microphone… That You Might Regret Asking Me
One of the scariest truths is that once I am given a microphone, I can and am often encouraged to “speak my truth with care.” This section highlights some of my most passionate thoughts about some of the toughest questions I get asked. Enjoy.

What is the difference between an ally and an advocate? Diversity and Social Justice?
I get asked a lot of questions about semantics, and really I want to ask what the person is avoiding taking in by questioning language and words. Words are both tools of oppression and of freedom. Words are how we collective describe, understand, argue, debate, comfort, and unite as groups. With that being said, there is also a reality of multiple meanings and uses of similar words and then the on going redefining, reclaiming, and creating of words to clarify a group’s message. With this all stated… I use the words ally and advocate mostly interchangeably and at times using ally to describe someone outside of the community and advocate inside of the community. Advocate can also be used when being an ally isn’t a word that demonstrates the level of tangible action vs. empathy or emotional support that can be used to define ally. Diversity, to me, is about experiencing difference while not spending too much time outside of one’s comfort zone (movies with subtitles, new foods or music or articles of clothing, tourism, etc). Social Justice is about focusing of getting uncomfortable and taking the privileges from one’s dominant identities to actively work towards equity within communities of privilege. Social Justice work is never done and rarely makes tangible progress that can be measured or reach resolution.

Stop The Hate
Stop The Hate Train The Trainer Program supports colleges and universities in preventing and combating bias and hate crimes on campus as well as fostering the development of community. The only resource of it’s kind specifically for college campuses, the Stop The Hate 250+ page premiere training manual and three day, 18-20 hour Train The Trainer program was developed in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League, Association of College Unions International, Campus Pride, The Southern Poverty Law Center, Wilbron Institute, Matthew Shepard Foundation, the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence and the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention. Become a Trainer for your campus. Learn more.Stop the Hate

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Copyright 2015, Jessica Pettitt. Jessica Pettitt is the “diversity educator” your family warned you about. Through teaching, writing, and facilitating tough conversations, she has figured out how to BE the change she wants to BE. Now it is your turn!
As she travels around the country, you can catch up with Jessica on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamsocialjustice?ref=ts
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/pettittjess
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/iamsocialjustice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jesspettitt

April 16, 2015
by Jessica
0 comments

#TBT Throw Back Thursday (December 2009)

From another isolated incident newsletter archives

December 11, 2009

November 29th’s Meet The Press on NBC hosted a conversation with Preacher Rick Warren from Saddleback Church. I often find myself in agreement and in disagreement with Warren’s statements or lack thereof — and I was struck by something that I want to share with you.

I call this newsletter Another Isolated Incident because this is  typically what I hear people say when they want to dismiss an experience or event as an unusual happening instead of a pattern. It is the patterns of our actions and inactions that I believe we need to be clear about.

Warren talked about all believers of any faith or political persuasion having its fundamentalists. These extreme belief holders exist on all edges or fringes of any group. This is identifying a shared pattern across groups. What Warren continued to say moved me wholly.

A person or group can become rooted in the fundamentals because they have stopped listening. Once someone believes they have the absolute right answer or path of understanding that way of being is no longer available for more information. They have stopped listening. What a critical reminder of a basic social justice tool. Listen. Thank you Rick Warren for the reminder. By listening to Warren, I can continue to grow and learn — agree and disagree — and never become so locked into my own viewpoints that I can no longer hear. Thank you Rick Warren for the reminder. Now, talk to your friends in Uganda that want to execute gay men!

Jess

Reflections from the Road:
Leaving Doors Open

Remaining open is important to social justice work. Listening to others as if they are wise, as Francie Kendall would say, is significantly harder than one might think. We all know when we think we are listening. We think we are available — paying attention — present, but we know we aren’t. No one can fake listening.

I am reminded of this key tool when listening to my friends talk about war, troop levels, joblessness, global warming, hunger, HIV education, apathy and the like. I don’t want to be so certain that I have the right answer or all of the information. I want to remain open to both sides or many sides of a situation — take in all of the variables and trust while actively fighting against what seems so easy for me to shrug my shoulders and turn that trust into an ever widening blind spot of responsibility. I want to hold my responsibility, remain open, listen, process, decide, review, and repeat often.

A friend recommended that I read Pema Chödrön’s writings. I started with When Things Fall Apart. It was particularly interesting to read about the importance of hopelessness while a presidential campaign was underway based on and filling me with hope of a better future. I stayed in this place of contradiction and found my truth in both — being present in the now enough that I don’t need to hope for anything while also realizing that now could be so much better. I let this reading stir within in for almost a year and I have come to her next book The Places That Scare You.

Chödrön included a story (pg. 20) that I want to share with you now that I think pulls together the power of listening with the ever present sense of being stuck in my own social justice work and self reflection.

“A man’s only son was reported dead in battle. Inconsolable, the father locked himself in his house for three weeks, refusing all support and kindness. In the fourth week the son returned home. Seeing that he was not dead, the people of the village were moved to tears. Overjoyed, they accompanied the young man to his father’s house and knocked on the door. “Father,” called the son, “I have returned.”  But the old man refused to answer.  “Your son is here, he was not killed,” called the people. But the old man would not come to the door. “Go away and leave me to grieve!” he screamed. “I know my son is gone forever and you cannot deceive me with your lies.”

At what point does my certainty and ego create a self fulfilling prophecy where I inevitably appear right over and over again when all I have done is closed myself off from listening, growing, and taking in new information?  At what point do I dismiss my sense of responsibility by only being open — letting new information pass through me without ever letting it take hold, land into a more informed opinion, thought, reaction, behavior? If the old man described above is one end of the spectrum, would an apathetic flip flopper be the other end? A flip flopper at least holds opinions even if they change over time. Perhaps the other end of the spectrum is where apathetic and neutral or purposefully ignorant live. This quagmire is certainly a place of stuckness — closed off — not listening — absolutes — fundamentals.

When I was growing up, my closest friend would have these calendar like things in the living room next to her family’s decorated trees. The calendar had little doors that counted down the days until she could open her presents. Behind each door was a piece of chocolate. Perhaps, in the time that remains of 2009, we can spend some time with our emotions and thoughts. Each day, open a little door of an event, memory, and relationship, and pull out the gifts of those experiences. Listen through them again. What story have you convinced yourself of and what have you left open to write? Like a little nibble of chocolate before bed, I find listening to my past, brings me to my present, and leaves the door open to what is yet to come.

How to Be an Ally to Transgender and People with an Intersex Condition
Challenge your own conceptions about gender-appropriate roles and behaviors. Do not expect people to conform to society’s beliefs about “women” and “men.”

Top 10 Issues I Get To Address While Holding A Microphone… That You Might Regret Asking Me
One of the scariest truths is that once I am given a microphone, I can and am often encouraged to “speak my truth with care.” This section highlights some of my most passionate thoughts about some of the toughest questions I get asked. Enjoy.

Affirmative Action
No, I do not feel that Affirmative Action allows for admission or other such standards to discriminate against whites to advantage non-whites that are less qualified or able. The largest benefactor of Affirmative Action has been white women not women or men of color. By naming and acknowledging that a system is uneven and that there are groups of people being marginalized by the very system, one has two options, 1) create a new system or 2) create a sub system to assist with the leveling off of inequities for those groups. Anyone has the ability to perform at any given level to meet any given standard and that performance is rated through biased lenses that create and support discrimination resulting in many receiving benefits that have not been earned or for which they qualify as well as closing doors of opportunity to many that do meet if not surpass such qualifications. Affirmative Action is a flawed system and we should be able to develop a new system that is even better, but in the meantime, I am willing to fight for Affirmative Action and its attempts to provide equal access to employment, education, housing, and the like. For the record, I don’t believe reverse racism can exist. Racism is based on the taking away of power at minimum and the acceptance of inherited or unearned power from others based on socially constructed determinations and characteristics. It is not possible, within this system, for a member of a subordinated group to take the power away from the dominant group. There is the possibility, if multiple identities are taken into consideration, for a person with one subordinated identity and another dominant identity to operate from a place of power in that place of dominance, but it will not supplant power in place of that subordinated identity.

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Copyright 2015, Jessica Pettitt. Jessica Pettitt is the “diversity educator” your family warned you about. Through teaching, writing, and facilitating tough conversations, she has figured out how to BE the change she wants to BE. Now it is your turn!
As she travels around the country, you can catch up with Jessica on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamsocialjustice?ref=ts
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/pettittjess
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/iamsocialjustice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jesspettitt

April 9, 2015
by Jessica
0 comments

#TBT Throw Back Thursday (June 2011)

From another isolated incident newsletter archives

“People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” James A. Baldwin

Another Isolated Incident

We are talking about patterns here. I realized that when Baldwin speaks of history, we could also use the word truth. We are constantly seeking truth and truth is in us. Here’s to another month of self reflection — maybe we will find it this time.

African American Studies — It’s not just a black thing

tshirtThis headline is from a t-shirt I saw recently when co-facilitating Texas A&M’s LeaderShape session. This made me think of how much of our well intentioned social justice work we — and most importantly to me — I, leave for someone else to do. I remember in my African History course the only black male professor at my school (the other black professor was female and taught composition) took me and the other white students on a journey of truth that I was not prepared for in the least. To this day I still have that text book, Before the Mayflower, by Lerone Bennett, Jr., because it rocked me to my core. It is only now that I realize that the few black students on my undergraduate campus were not in the class and I probably assumed they knew all of this already. How can I hold these two truths at the same time? Black people know everything about being black and it is their place to deconstruct racism, at least regarding black race relations.

I love it when I catch myself in an illogical circuitous argument. Perhaps, illogical circuitous arguments are just a white thing — or a dominant/privileged thing. Generally, that might make it feel all better — white people: illogical dogs chasing their own tails and answering their own arguments. Ludicrous — and fairly accurate.

***

I was asked to write an article about doing more social justice work on campuses with budget cuts looming. What is interesting is this isn’t a tangent — at least to me — because the previous string of thoughts were swirling at the same time as I got this opportunity. I think it is the same problem. When I go to a campus twice in the same month because the folks bringing me don’t know that the other office exists or that it is just “too complicated” to co-sponsor programs — we waste money, time, and lessen our impact on campuses. Granted the checks still get cashed and I have more access to different groups of students — but really — we could do better. Here are some other thoughts…

With budget cuts turning to budget slashes and college campuses carrying the social weight of social justice trainings, what are you to do as a diversity programming board or campus activities advisor? It is a tough reality check that “doing more with less” doesn’t seem to answer. After working in Student Life for a decade, here are some free (yes, free!) suggestions on how to stretch the dollars you have left without looking further than your desk or adding something new to your in box.

It’s Not Just A Speaker Thing

As a diversity speaker myself, I will disclose a secret. You have to pinky swear not to tell anyone. Ok? Lean close… here it goes… You are already doing Diversity programming on your campus. Shhhh… don’t get so excited with your rebuttals, let me explain. On your campus, there are more than likely several departments that bring in speakers other than Campus Activities. Think about your academic departments, campus wide speaker series, alumni programming, etc. Campus Activities could co-sponsor (money) or co-market (visibility) with these programs. I encourage you to attend and bring your friends as well. Ask yourself when is the last time you attended (not worked) a program. You get to learn something too. Also, when working to bring in a speaker, bring in a diverse group of speakers that also speak to a wide audience. Does your relationship/safer sex program include LGBT relationships? Does your MLK Week speaker address sexism? Do you only bring in speakers of particular racial or ethnic groups during specific times of the year? If so, know that they can speak the other 11 months of the year on topics that are relevant to your campus too! Bringing in a speaker during their “off-peak” time actually can get you a discount on the program as well! This may see odd, but it is rarely done on campuses. I more often hear that additional programming is needed than I hear about groups supporting all of a campus’ initiatives and utilizing outsiders for a larger purpose.

It’s Not Just A New Thing

Take a second to jot down your university’s traditions, honor codes, and sayings. How can you use what the campus already rallies around to reach a broader audience with a more inclusive message? Take Homecoming, for example, and ask yourself how can you welcome back all of the students that make up your campus? What can you do to honor campus pride with non-traditional students, veterans, student parents, commuters, and those that don’t play or enjoy sporting events? Utilize current themes and mottos to paint broader strokes of inclusion for all voices that make up your campus community.

It’s Not Just A Space Thing

If you work on a campus that believes diversity or social justice programming is the responsibility of someone else, another department, or that a new student group needs to be formed first — I believe you are wrong. Use what you have. What if weekly discussion questions are posted on campus, in the student newspaper, or on dining hall tables? Could you start conversations — even difficult ones — and trust your community to have a dialog? If not, perhaps, offer ongoing programming or resources on self-reflection, authentic dialog, intergroup conversations utilizing groups and academic departments already in place. Lastly, take someone to lunch! Start a “take the other to lunch campaign” — folks gotta eat right? If you can give discussion prompts and teach people how to talk to one another – not about what they know they disagree on, but to listen and learn about the people themselves — you are building connections and community! Being as though I don’t work on one campus, I host open dialog conference calls every month and have found that by providing a space, folks from all over the country benefit from great conversations. Sharing and listening is FREE!

It’s Not Just An Outsider Thing

What I find most exciting about social justice programming, is that everything that you need is already around you. No store runs or t-shirts required! Look around your office, campus, local community and see what is already happening. Moreover, find out from other people’s perspectives what is happening. To see other’s experiences on your campus — you have to ask. Why not ask for comments on a blog or facebook page? You could even go really old school, and have a blank bulletin board with a prompting question to solicit people passing by feedback, thoughts, and comments. For example, “Where do you feel safest on campus?” and see where people identify. Then, do a conversation program there or at least contact the students, staff, faculty, and community members associated with that space. On one campus, I got disposable cameras donated and asked members of my campus community to take pictures of “social justice.” This was open ended and I got lots of images to share with the larger community about the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful realities of that campus. I eventually took all of the pictures and connected them together into a social justice blanket that we displayed on the campus activities center to generate further conversations. You don’t always have to bring someone in from the outside to get an inside view of your campus experience.

Take a good look at your programming and budget situation. Once you have access to your campus resources, traditions, and ongoing programming, make it a priority to incorporate voices that are silenced but have lived experiences that are marginalized by the majority-based story on your campus. Remember, social justice programming isn’t about doing something new or more with less. Social justice programming is about reaching a wider audience with broader strokes of reality, complexity, and intersectionality that make our campuses unique from one another.

Mission: DREAM Summer

Jose Luis ZelayaJose Luis Zelaya has decided to dedicate his summer to help high school students achieve dreams of higher education. He plans to travel around the country talking about the DREAM Act, legislation that would allow undocumented students who have grown up in the United the States the opportunity to give back to their communities. Please read his story and help support his dream if you can.

WANT MORE?? visit www.anotherisolatedincident.com and sign up for my FREE newsletter!

Download my FREE app (iPhone and Android based) just search for Jessica Pettitt!
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Participate in the next Go There! call… just click on “do something” when you are on my site.


Copyright 2015, Jessica Pettitt. Jessica Pettitt is the “diversity educator” your family warned you about. Through teaching, writing, and facilitating tough conversations, she has figured out how to BE the change she wants to BE. Now it is your turn!
As she travels around the country, you can catch up with Jessica on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamsocialjustice?ref=ts
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/pettittjess
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/iamsocialjustice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jesspettitt

April 8, 2015
by Jessica
0 comments

And Then There Was Indiana

There is a fine line between discrimination and making a judgment.  What defines this line is our cultural sense of morality and a collective social obligation to abide by our laws.

right to reserves

As a bartender, I could “cut off” a patron based on my subjective opinion, now as a owner of my own business, I can decide not to take on a client because I am swamped, the price isn’t right, I’m on vacation, it’s my birthday, or just a subjective “icky” feeling.  In the United States, we have the right to own a business, we all do, but we , none of us, have the right to customers.  We earn our customers loyalty and build trusting relationships with them.  We also clearly advertise our services and who our target customer is and the customer does their own research and makes informed and subjective decisions on where to take their business.  This is assuming there are other options.  If there are no other option, and a customer can’t get served anywhere or a business owner can’t seem to get any business, this needs to be looked into.

 

Regarding the Religious Freedom bill that was signed yesterdayrainbow cake by Indiana’s Governor Pence, a tidal waive of backlash has occurred, and I think we need to take a breathe and look at the bigger picture.

It seems to me that it is mostly the liberal LGBT and Ally community that is outraged by the passage of this bill.  Let’s break this down a bit.

Gay Marriage Bakeries keep showing up in my social media feed as the burdened example.  Here is my counter argument.

I don’t need a cake to get married. I want a cake to be present at my wedding.  If there are multiple bakeries and they all clearly advertise their ideal customer, I will choose to spend my dollars and get my cake from a bakery that I want to support.

Sometimes laws push our culture’s sense of morality and sometimes the laws play catch up.  Some religious communities do not support non-heterosexual relationships and, I believe they should have that ability so that I too can have a protected space to freely express myself.  This is especially successful when there are lots of options.  This is the biggest difference between these types of bills and segregation and Jim Crow Laws – there were zero options and the laws were changed to push our culture’s morality to be more inclusive

religious freedomn laws mapFirst, this is the 20th similar bill in the US and there are 22 more bills from 13 more states pending currently.  The idea that no one should be sustainably burdened to express themselves I think is a GREAT one.  An individual ought to have the space to express themselves be it religious beliefs, or gender expression, or something else that is wholly personal without significant burden.  The hard part here is how to measure sustainable burden and locating the line between what is expression for one person and burden for another.

 

Next, it is mostly Protestant Christians that are also white and upper class that areindian hands

writing,passing, and implementing these kinds of bills.  Can these bills be equally applied to all religious expression? Sure. But will they?  Laws, like wizardry skills can be used for both good and bad.

 

It is important to mention that the privileged groups fighting for these bills are up against the most privileged groups fighting against these bills.  Not to mention that some upper class highly educated Gay and Lesbian people and their Allies also identify as Protestant Christian.  Other’s are still fighting for equitable access to employment, housing, health care, food, education, and the like.

 

Freedom of religion is an important piece of our cultural morality.  Instead of focusing on the specifics of thought indiana circlesand conscience, our opinions of these concepts, and the access to gather and build community, I would challenge us all to support and protect our moral practice of freedom of choice and self-expression.  If this gets limited – we are in real trouble.

With this stated, there is a difference between a cake or something you want and something or a service you need to live.  These laws only apply to public/private business entities not governmental services.  If there are other pharmacists that I can choose from then I can go to one that is in line with the services I need.  However, if I am having an emergency and am receiving medical care in my time of need, life saving services need to be fulfilled.  At this point, I think that is on the side of the employee in that they should have

clear expectations of what they will be asked to do – if they can’t do that –they need to find employment elsewhere.  Yes, this can be taken advantage of and could result in harm, and it comes back to choice.

indiana popscicle

 

 

 

We pride ourselves on American Exceptional and expect some degree of assimilation.   Fly your freak flag as long as it fits these dimensions.  The role of government as a leader or as a representative leads to a pluralistic set of political views that should also be protected and not be substantially burdened to be expressed.  This is what a Democracy is about.

indiana bandThere are times when our collective culture and sense of morality needs assistance and government and legislation can jump in front of the parade and lead us towards justice.  Love vs. Virginia is a great example in that multi-racial marriage is legally protected even though socially this isn’t 100% accepted and multi-racial couples often experience bias, targeted negative attention, and discrimination.  These couples do at least have the law to fall back upon to seek justice.

This is an example of how the community can shift culture while still “obeying” legislation.  This clearly markets who is a target customer for this business. Ultimately, this is the market economy intersecting with our cultural morality.

Other times, our collective expectation is more inclusive and legislation pretendsindiana serves everyone that it is in the lead. Federal legislation on Gay Marriage will probably pass when the legal requirement wont be widely necessary.  Gay Marriages will widely be happening and already are before federal recognition has happened.

Bad ideas thrive in the dark.  Perhaps an open discussion about freedom of expression and our collective right to choice would get to bigger questions about our collective responsibility and morality.

 

What do we owe each other?

 

What do we feel entitled to from others?

indiana legailty

 

 

 

 

How is my outrage fueled by my own sense of entitlement?

 

Who am I leaving out of these conversations?

 

How can I personally expand choice?


Copyright 2015, Jessica Pettitt. Jessica Pettitt is the “diversity educator” your family warned you about. Through teaching, writing, and facilitating tough conversations, she has figured out how to BE the change she wants to BE. Now it is your turn!
As she travels around the country, you can catch up with Jessica on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamsocialjustice?ref=ts
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/pettittjess
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/iamsocialjustice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jesspettitt

April 2, 2015
by Jessica
0 comments

#TBT Throw Back Thursday (January 2011)

From another isolated incident newsletter archives

Another Isolated Incident

I decided to name this monthly newsletter Another Isolated Incident because that seems to be such a common turn of phrase to dismiss our responsibility for oppressive patterns in our communities. Another one is Random Acts of Violence. Please note that words have meaning. Words have impact. Any “shock” you might be feeling in light of the shooting in Tucson, behaviors of your children or Congressional Representatives, or even of your own reactions, actions, and inactions — use this “shock” as a moment of understanding for those in your community who feel that emotion or lack thereof every single day. Each of us are complex beings. We deserve to be seen and heard as complex and not one simplistic reflection of another’s perspectives. We live, compel, and maintain systems of oppression with our words, beliefs, sentiments, acts of kindness, blind spots, and marginalizations of self or others. When is it enough?


Reflections from the Road: Cheese

While on the treadmill, I had this image of a cheese grater pop up in my mind. Those who know me, shouldn’t be too surprised by this — I do love me some dairy products — but hang in there with me for this…

A cheese grater takes a large hunk of cheese and shreds it down into tiny shards of cheesy goodness. These shards may vary in size, but are roughly uniform and can not ever join back together on their own. With a little heat, these shards can lose themselves and literally melt into a new larger mass, but there may be consistency variations from the original large hunk. Other ingredients can be added to literally hold the shards together, think mayonnaise and the makings of pimento cheese spread (yum). The shards of cheese are still visibility different from one another and have become something entirely different from the original large hunk. Are you with me? If you need to get a snack I totally understand.

I thought of this image because this is how the members of dominant groups treat people — including other members of their dominant groups. When grating cheese, at the very end there is a pile of shards and a little bitty nub of cheese from the original large hunk. We are fighting to be a part of the little nub at the end. The shards are what is left when we look at others as one two-dimensional identity. Once two dimensional, they can stack up on each other, but cannot be a part of each other. Once we have experienced grating of any kind, we are force to shift between our complex identities and communities of membership to the one identity we guess is relevant to the other or to the space we are navigating. The nub at the end is still part of the original large hunk and we are shards of that community.

Perhaps the tragic events of early January can act as heat and we can actually unite our sense of self with our purpose and collectively our communities can claim responsibility for tolerating violence and unchecked language for so long. We will never be the same again. Or, perhaps in light of the horror that must have been experienced in the grocery store parking lot, we can apply a new ingredient and make something new together that holds us united.

I am responsible I would like to offer, that I will claim responsibility for my language, actions, inactions, etc., to return a sense of civility to my discourse full of respect and empathy. I ask that you do the same. Forward this article to others. Steal this image and share it with your Facebook friends. Black out your profile picture. Monitor your word choice and pay attention to how the shooter is being described. Let’s not shred him down into a “whack job” as heard on PBS’s News Hour. Make this commitment within the next week. Make it again in the future. Set a calendar reminder. Do what you need to do to remember to work against the grain, be a full complex person, allow others to be the same. February 8th will be one month since the tragedy in Tucson. Let’s reclaim our responsibility if not before, then by February 8th, 2011.

From Tucson – Thursday, January 13, 2011
By Hannah Lozon, M.Ed., Coordinator of Social Justice Education, Residence Life, The University of Arizona

I am sitting on an airplane, on my way to CO to lead a social justice retreat at the University of Northern Colorado. I am wearing my “Together We Thrive” shirt from last night’s memorial service for those fallen in my home city of Tucson, AZ. I am exhausted, drained, and coming off an emotional week, one that had more impact on me than I ever could have imagined.

It was around 12pm on Saturday, January 8 when I received a text message that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had been shot. I remember the complete disbelief as I thought, “no, it can’t be true!” as I ran to turn on the TV, grab my laptop, and start thumbing through Twitter on my phone. I felt air fill my lungs again when I learned that Giffords was still alive, but sat in dumbstruck horror as I learned how many others were dead or injured. How could this be happening, just a few miles across town?

It seemed the rest of my Tucson friends were feeling the same as I was. People immediately took to Facebook and Twitter with messages of “Speechless,” “This cannot be happening,” and “praying for Gabrielle Giffords and all those hurt and wounded.” I could not bring myself to break away from the TV, desperate for updates about people I had never met, but somehow felt like family.

For three days, 24 hours a day, it was the only story the local news media covered in Tucson. It was as if all life had stopped; the entire Tucson community had been rendered silent as we waited for updates on the wounded. I was overwhelmed by the strength of my emotion at the carnage that had occurred, and yet I could not shed a single tear. I vacillated wildly between sorrow for the families of the victims, wanting to scream as political figures started pointing fingers and blaming whoever they could, and sheer numbness as more details were released about the loss our community had suffered. I simply could not believe the strength of my emotion for these people I had never met — yet, being a Tucsonan, it was as if someone had attacked my family.

When I learned that the Obamas would be coming to Tucson for a public memorial service, I was incredibly grateful. As my campus prepared for the arrival of the Commander in Chief, I kept saying that I wished the incident which precipitated President Obama’s arrival hadn’t occurred, but that I was grateful our leader was coming to help provide solace for Tucson. I managed to make it into the McKale center Wednesday night — the service itself was nothing short of healing. As President Obama remembered each of the victims, and talked about the need to let our words heal rather than divide, I finally felt a tear trickle down my cheek. The service itself allowed Tucson to both honor our fallen, and rally together. I know many watching on TV across the country were dismayed at our incessant cheering — the truth is, we desperately needed to cheer, to scream for something we could believe in. It had been four days before I was able to feel anything besides numbness, and someone had finally given me permission to release.

I returned home that evening and watched the President’s speech again on TV — this time, I openly wept. It was as if someone had finally put into words everything that I had been feeling about the situation, but had been unable to tap into. He gave us permission to grieve in a way we had not been able to. The horror that happened to my city is nothing short of that — true horror. But I want to honor what President Obama said, about not using this as just another excuse to turn on one another. As a social justice educator, I have always believed that love is stronger than hate — I have to believe that in order to be able to do this work.

As I leave Tucson behind for the weekend for my trip to Colorado, I am grateful I was able to connect back to my emotion before I lead a retreat that is all about connecting to our emotional cores. Our work as social justice educators is about helping ourselves and one another create a human connection and learn to dialogue across difference. “Together we Thrive” is more than just a theme for a city working through a tragedy — we truly are all better when we work together to create change. We will learn from this tragedy, we will move forward.

A Cisgender Privilege Checklist

Cis-” as a prefix of Latin origin, meaning “on the same side [as]” or “on this side [of]“, with several derived usages:

  • In chemistry, cis- refers to cis-trans isomerism
  • In molecular biology, cis- refers to cis-acting
  • In gender studies, cis- refers to cisgender

The funny thing about privilege is that typically the privileged are mostly unaware of their privileges (it’s part of the privilege). The way the world treats them just seems normal until they get to hear other people’s experiences.

This checklist was developed as resource in relation to Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Much of the source matter comes from: Cisgender Privilege.

Government/Bureaucratic issues

  1. When there are boxes to check on various forms, my gender will definitely be included. I do not even need to acknowledge that there are other genders than those listed.
  2. I can expect my government-issued identification to accurately represent who I am. If my identification does not, I expect to be able to remedy this quickly and easily, without added expense, undue delay, arbitrary criteria, or a necessity to present evidence or medical documents.
  3. My gender is not dragged into everything that happens to me. If I am involved in a lawsuit or attempt to access government-services that are not related to my gender, I can assume my gender will not be brought up, if it is, it will generally not be a hindrance.
  4. My gender will not make me immediately suspect to those with government sanctioned power (lawyers, judges, police, bureaucrats, etc.).
  5. My gender does not make me necessarily unfit to be a parent in the eyes of the law, regardless of what state I’m in.
  6. I expect my gender to not unduly affect my ability to travel internationally.
  7. I expect access to, and fair treatment within sex segregated facilities such as: homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, drug rehab programs, prisons, hostels, and dorms.
  8. I never have to wonder what to put down on legal or official forms when they ask for “sex” or “gender”.
  9. In no country in the world is it illegal to be my gender.

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Copyright 2015, Jessica Pettitt. Jessica Pettitt is the “diversity educator” your family warned you about. Through teaching, writing, and facilitating tough conversations, she has figured out how to BE the change she wants to BE. Now it is your turn!
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