Note: We received so many entries for this first round that we have decided to replace this issue’s scholar-activist entry with half of the stories we received. We will feature the other half of the stories in our next issue.
The rain and gloomy weather seemed appropriate at the start,
as students first huddled together outside Campbell Hall.
But as our voices echoed,
as we made way to Storke Tower –
caused the sun to break the clouds.
We walked out of class and work this Friday January 20th 2017,
joining hands, arms, steps and voices,
as we made way through our campus communities.
United against Trump,
against gender violence,
against the intolerances.
Our faculty, staff, and students together chanting,
from our hearts,
from our minds.
From our brilliance, our intelligence, and our power,
the chants were loud,
our anger, our resistance, and our hopes ever roaring.
And as I stood and listened to my community,
my brothers, my sisters,
my student family,
express fear and concern for our lives,
I heard snaps, loud claps and witnessed many raised fists to the sky.
We students, we social justice advocates,
we share our dedication and hope for equitable futures,
for dismantling the injustices,
for resisting the racisms.
Today, tomorrow and the next,
Me, we, and UCSB will not rest.
Written by Jenny Sperling – University of California Santa Barbara
At my institution, it would be an understatement to say that many of us have been shaken this year – not just by events during the presidential election, but also by the constant stories of violence against Black and Brown faces. While many faculty members felt as though the divides are just too much to overcome, some of us felt otherwise.
With this in mind, and feeling a bit brave, we organized an event called “Bridging the Chasm: Social and Political Dialogue that Matters”. While we initially wanted to have an event that honored those who feel frightened by the events in our country, we instead decided to have a more inclusive event, with voices around the table that may not ever share a room normally. This conversation included a student of Muslim decent; an advocate for those who are transgender; a pro-life advocate; a leader from the campus multi-cultural and diversity organization; a feminist; a retired US colonel; a student who represented Black Lives Matter; and voices from a variety of political affiliations. We were hopeful that we might have civil dialogue, but worried that the event would devolve into more acts of hate speech.
At the end of the conversation, I can say that we were proud to have had two hours of civil, thoughtful, critical discourse. While we certainly did not solve any problems during that time, we did bring together viewpoints that are often difficult to hear, depending on your own beliefs and values. We stripped away some fear of the “other” and hopefully broke down some barriers to healthy, productive, hopeful conversation.
Written by Dr. Danielle T. Ligocki
Assistant Professor, Teacher Development and Educational Studies
The Morning After
The morning after –a space in which one finds themselves after a rough night. The morning after requires a “thing” to cleanse away the remnants from the night before. But for this morning after…there’s nothing to take. Nothing to do or say. On this morning after, as I prepare to go to work, I know the person who shares my space also knows it’s the morning after. She knows there’s nothing to say to a person like me from a person like her who said they voted for HRC – but secretly, she knows she didn’t. She and the other women know today is that morning after when 53% of them and a percent so small of women who look like me are responsible for this morning after space…And now we’re wondering…Now we’re cautious and suspicious.
This is not that, “I thought I knew you and you knew me and even though you live in that skin that says regardless of your credentials or mine, you’ll win, and we’re okay anyway,” space. No…on this morning after, we’re not okay. An unexpected line’s been drawn. And since it’s that morning after, we’re silent because we know what morning after today is. It’s a morning after that’s brought a heaviness for which there are simply no words. We’re silent on this morning after and when we get to this day’s end, we sigh, knowing we’ve survived.
Written by Tanji Reed Marshall, PhD Candidate, Curriculum & Instruction, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
It is nearly impossible to find silver-lining amidst the fear and uncertainty that the election of Donald Trump and his cabinet have aroused in the hearts of many educators. Yet, we know as critical educators, it is our work to persistently navigate that trying terrain that lies between hope and despair. In the days following the election, 26 members the Curriculum and Instruction Department at the University of Texas at Austin gathered together without a plan, but with a sense of urgency to address the threats that this election poses to the well-being of many of our students and community members. Within the course of the meeting we, professors and graduate students, formed what is now known as the Coalition Against Racism, Hate, and Violence. Together, and in anticipation of the dangerous and uncertain future, we drafted a statement in order to be clear about what we stand for and what we stand against. Most importantly, we collectively made the decision to stand in solidarity as concerned educators and with those who have been historically harmed and are presently targeted by emboldened violence and hateful rhetoric. Our work will continue to be amplified, to be unambiguous, and to move in a direction of hope for a more just society, as we stand alongside one another in sustained and active resistance. The community, trust, and solidarity we are working to build inspires hope – a silver-lining of sorts – that reminds me of what is possible when people choose to engage in unified resistance.
Killing Their Souls
This past spring I attended a session within an academic conference on Women of Color in academia. The theme of the session was how academic institutions advertently and inadvertently, through both policies and procedures, impose racism, sexism, and other discriminatory ‘-isms’ onto their students, faculty, and staff members. The women of this session discussed how their intersectionality of identities was at odds with the dominant culture of their professional institutions and this schism caused not only personal distress but also trauma. They boldly proclaimed that many of their ‘souls were dying’. These provocative claims have resonated within me for months. As I sat there, in that cold conference room, I asked myself what is killing their souls and were their souls really dying?
The idea of the slow death of one’s soul has haunted me for months. I have asked myself repeatedly as an educator, who colludes in the killing of one’s soul? Have I ever played a role in the killing of a student’s soul?
This school year as the presidential election has transpired; I have taken this opportunity to make not only history but also civics come alive for my students, their engagement in this year’s election process was extensive and they greatly enjoyed it. But the as the ballots were cast and president elect was named, I saw the lights in their eyes start to dim. This was not the outcome that they expected, but more importantly their new president seemed to be in direct opposition to who they are as young people of color. Some cried daily, as what were believed to be idle threats about the ‘building of a wall’ or ‘helping the blacks’ or ‘grabbing women by their genitalia’ became more real.
On the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, I could feel the tension within my classroom boiling up. My students were on edge and their nerves had gotten the best of them. Their eyes were low and their spirits were noticeably crushed. In that moment I understood what it meant to watch one’s soul die, it was happening right in front of my eyes within their little bodies. Before I could even start their day of learning my administrator came into my classroom and asked why I wasn’t showing the children the inauguration.
I was appalled. I did not think it was necessary to explain that for this population of students, who did not possess the skill sets need to situate this event in their lives, showing the inauguration was grossly inappropriate. It became my job to protect their souls.
How could I, not only as their teacher, but also as someone who looks and feels like them, allow them to watch someone who has said racist, demeaning, discriminatory, and obscene comments get promoted to the highest office in our country. Although this act of resistance was minute, on this day I could not play a role in the killing of their souls.
Written by Martha Ann Wilkins Ed.D