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.
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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.
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