not so isolated…

not so random…

#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.


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.

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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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