From another isolated incident newsletter archives
It has been a busy month with lots of isolated incidents. I call this newsletter what I do because you can’t have multiple isolated incidents without having a pattern and our persistent lack of logic when describing these patterns supports the very systems of oppression that at least in rhetoric so many of us don’t want to support. I ask you to draw comparison from Prop 8 in CA and SB 1070 in AZ. Both cases dramatically increase state jurisdictions and beg for federal response. Both pit marginalized groups against one another and leave the dominant groups sitting pretty with their entitlements. Nah… it is just another isolated incident.
Reflections from the Road:
I talk a lot about empathy — providing a space for yourself and others to experience multiple sides of an experience. It is important to provide a space for you to really understand what you are feeling. It is also important to provide space for the impact your own experiences may have on others and try to understand many possibilities that the other folks may be feeling.
Example — AZ SC 1070 — How scared must some people be of rapist, murderers, and kidnappers that don’t have identification therefore cannot be held accountable to heinous crimes? How dependent are AZ law enforcement agents on witnesses, neighbors, friends, and family members to make reports, give tips, and take responsibility for justice? How scared would I feel if I was often perceived as someone that may not have documentation to be inside the United States? How unrecognized is my own sense of entitlement of being a US Citizen — I had no choice about where I was born — the same with many others — AND I don’t have a perceived skin color or facial structure that would lead to someone questioning me.
A space of empathy requires patience and honest dialog.
Bystander behaviors are another form of dialog we tend to have with ourselves or others and can require patience. This is when you don’t really do something when you know that something really needs to be done. Maybe you figure someone else will do it, you worry about peer pressure, who knows, but you have a dialog about the situation and you decide not to act and possibly wait for someone else! There are lots of examples of bystander behavior, people walking by someone dying on a street, last year a woman died in an emergency waiting room and went unchecked for hours, earlier this year a woman was gang raped while a huge crowd looked on — yet no one came forward as a witness. Sometimes, we don’t step forward because it might be unsafe or too risky for us to do so, yet we know through that inner dialog that we should. The more we patiently await for someone else to do something the more we question and reaffirm our decision to not do anything.
Let’s put these two together now…
I recently was on an airplane where a suitcase appeared to have fallen off of the conveyor belt used to load luggage into the cargo area of the plane. I sat in my window seat and watched several airport ground crew notice the bag, check the bag tags, and leave the bag where it was. That bag was not making it onto this plane. I debated telling a flight attendant, but what could they do from inside the plane? I starting thinking about the owner of the bag. What if there is medication in the bag? Is this how baggage gets lost? What would happen if I were to land and my luggage was lost! I started thinking that perhaps the suitcase was brought to the wrong plane. Maybe it isn’t supposed to be on this flight and is awaiting a ride to the right plane. All of these things are possible and me not doing anything or the ground crew doing what looked to me as not doing anything could be like bystander behavior and requires patience AND the owner of the bag, the ground crew member that might have made a mistake, etc., could have very different feelings during this simple moment in time.
This is a great example of both/and. There isn’t THE way.There is A way. To confront or resolve a situation may or may not be appropriate in every case for everyone. Both experiences are lived and there may be even more elements that I am not thinking of or feeling. This knowledge requires empathy, reflection, and patience for others and for yourself.
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.
Why do I spend so much time talking about history? Slavery is over.
This is a simple answer in that it is all about context. Sometimes we pull from our history to explain and justify our current actions and inform our pending decisions. The memory of history is drawn upon out of convenience and retrofitted to a current need. Much like statistics, historical facts and events can be rewritten to demonstrate what is needed. History is only remembered, retold, and re-explored through a biased lens. There is nothing from history that can even be told in its fullest more accurate form much like our present is full of many perspectives. We must pull from these re-writings to learn from our collective past, to inform our future decisions. I think it is important to mention that history is never over as the full story is never truly known. Moreover, we repeat our patterns of behavior so we just keep doing the same things over and over again that benefit some and lead to real pain for others. The link to these patterns is a sense of responsibility that we all have to choose better, act better, be better people. Lastly, slavery isn’t over. There are more people enslaved now that ever before in recorded history. Until every person is free to choose a place of employment (or not), be paid a living wage, and have the ability to aspire to grow, develop, and innovate for themselves the life in which they wish to live — slavery will persist to be a reality in many lives. Until each person that is disconnected from this reality realizes the amount of underpaid (if paid at all) labor that goes into creating what others use once and toss aside — slavery is real and it is our responsibility to acknowledge the historical responsibility that is the foundation of our collective standard of living.
LEAD with PRIDE! Campus Pride Summer Leadership Camp
At the heart of a remarkable leader is a passion and a vision for change. Campus Pride believes in kindling this passion, nurturing the soul and inspiring “voice and action” among student leaders. The Campus Pride Summer Leadership Camp promotes progressive critical thinking and leadership concepts built on a foundation of social justice and civility. Expert faculty and presenters encourage activism and individual growth to be an effective change agent and leader on campus. The only camp of its kind for LGBT and ally college students, the five-day camp experience works to develop stronger undergraduate student leaders and safer, more LGBT-friendly colleges and universities. Learn more.
Social Justice Quotations That Keep Me Going
“Civility does not …mean the mere outward gentleness of speech cultivated for the occasion, but an inborn gentleness and desire to do the opponent good.” Mohandas K. Gandhi: An Autobiography: The Story of my Experiments with Truth
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