Collaging for Social Justice by Marcellus C. Taylor

The work of social justice requires a proclivity to situations of vulnerability and introspection. Often the discussion of social justice-related topics end in fatigue and further disagreements (Furman, 2012; Shields, 2010). Colleges and universities must develop engaging pathways that allow for an introductory conversation to the beauty and complexity of social justice. The methods of collaging and collage quilting can serve as initiators of a continual conversation on humanity, dignity and inclusion. In my experience these activities have created change in the minds of folks who purposefully, (or unintentionally), were neutral, (or opposed), to the concepts of social justice.

Heron (1992) suggest that there are multiple ways of knowing of which presentational knowing is one of them. According to (Yorks and Kasl, 2002),  Presentational  Knowing is “the intuitive grasp of the significance of imaginal patterns as expressed in graphic, plastic, moving, musical, and verbal art forms” (pg. 187). Collaging is the “process of using fragments of found images or materials and gluing them to a flat surface to portray phenomena” (Butler-Kisber & Poldma, 2011 pg. 2). Collage quilting happens when multiple collages are placed together to form a single image. Collaging grew in its artistic popularity in the  early 20th century in part due to the artistry of Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp (Davis & Butler-Kisber, 1999).

The process described below highlights my use of collaging and collage quilting as an introductory conversation for social justice. After the collage and collage quilting activity had concluded, I led a brief (20 minutes) talk on the historical underpinnings of social justice movements in America, I also gave out resources that students/participants could use for independent study of the topic. Finally, I made fliers of events and activities on campus that would further increase their knowledge and practical understanding of the phenomena collaging and collage quilting are not the only ways to lead an introductory workshop on social justice, but it can be a transformative process for all participants.

The Collage Making Process

1) Each student / participant was asked to bring a magazine to the session/workshop from any genre. I encourage the facilitator to bring at minimum 10-15 for different genres.

2) I (the facilitator) provided the paper for collaging.  I used an 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 paper that I cut down from the original 8 1/2 x 11 size.

3) At beginning of the session/workshop I asked students an overarching question

Examples

What is social justice?

Who is social justice for?

What do you know about racism in America?

4 ) After I  asked the question, I  gave each student/participant a  8 1/2 x 8 1/2  paper.  I encourage you to use multiple colors it adds to the aesthetics.

5) I then challenged each participant to use the magazines and design a collage as their way of answering the question from above. I told them that they could cut out images, words or a combination of both and glue them to the 8 1/2 x 8 ½ aforementioned.

6)  I allowed time for participants to design their collage. I suggest a minimum of twenty minutes and a maximum of forty minutes.

7) After all the students/participants finished their collage, I went around the room and asked them to share out about their collage and how it answers the overarching question. I recommend that the facilitator share their collage after students/participants share out.

The Collage Quilt Making Process

After everyone shares out,

1) I place each collage on a large white paper. I used a gigantic roll of white paper as the background for the quilt.

Before you place the collages on the “quilt “, I would write a hashtag at the top of the “quilt”, this allows for post collage engagement and can be a tool to bring in voices from outside the session/workshop

2) I then placed them by rows of 3 (the below image is 3×4).  If you have an odd number you can play around with the design or the facilitator can make more than one.

 For ease of facilitation, the facilitator(s) should make their collage(s) before the session/workshop.

3) After the collage quilt was completed I asked each student/participant to note any themes they see on the collage quilt.

You can discuss the importance of themes and how a collection of various ways of knowing can lead to community building and understanding. 

Materials List

1) Glue Sticks

2) Scissors

3) Magazines

4) 8 1/2 x 81/2 paper cut outs (You should have enough for each student/ participant and a few extra).

5) Large White Paper Roll

6) Painters tape to hang the collage

7) Good Working Music for when participants are collaging, I use the musical playlist from the film Hidden Figures https://youtu.be/6teUDy1XS7A

Figure 1: A Collage Quilt centered on the theme of curriculum

 Quilt M. Taylor.png

Bio:

Marcellus C. Taylor serves the Penn State Harrisburg Community as the Assistant Director of Student Life in the Office of Student Life & Intercultural Programs. He received his master of education in Training and Development from Penn State Harrisburg and is currently pursuing a doctorate of education in curriculum and instruction from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In addition to his role at Penn State Harrisburg, he is an Empowerment Coach and author. His research interest is in the areas of Black males in educational doctorate programs and the impact of Student Affairs practices on Black male undergraduate holistic development. . To contact Marcellus please email marcellustaylor09@gmail.com.

References

Butler-Kisber, L., & Poldma, T. (2011). The power of visual approaches in qualitative inquiry: The use of collage making and concept mapping in experiential research. Journal of Research Practice, 6(2), 18.

Davis, D., & Butler-Kisber, L. (1999). Arts-based representation in qualitative research: Collage as a contextualizing strategy. Paper presented at American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting, Montreal, Quebec (session 1)

Furman, G. (2012). Social justice leadership as praxis: Developing capacities through preparation programs. Educational Administration Quarterly, 48(2), 191-229.

Heron, J. (1992). Feeling and personhood: Psychology in another key. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Shields, C. M. (2010). Transformative leadership: Working for equity in diverse contexts. Educational administration quarterly, 46(4), 558-589.

Yorks, L., & Kasl, E. (2002). Toward a theory and practice for whole-person learning: Reconceptualizing experience and the role of affect. Adult Education Quarterly, 52(3), 176-192.

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Masculinity’s Effects on Gay Men in College, By: Daniel J. Foster and Stephen T. Britt

Author’s note: It is important to acknowledge the cisnormative nature of this essay and to draw attention to the issues of trans men and gender nonconforming people in the context of masculine identity development. Also, we cannot ignore that this essay doesn’t explicitly focus on bi, pan, or queer identified men, though some of the research would suggest similarities to gay masculinity development. These identities and their relationships with masculinity are also vitally important in this discussion. Masculinity is a complex issue that warrants hundreds of pages of exploration as its impact is far reaching. In this essay, masculinity development of gay men is addressed; other identities are not forgotten.

 

Toxic masculinity has become a topic of discussion in many circles in recent years, and for good reason. Our patriarchal society expects a certain portrayal of masculinity, and that portrayal does not include anything even remotely perceived as feminine, and for men who challenge the “norm” of heteronormativity, such as gay men, the fight against toxic masculinity can be arduous. So, gay men in college, who are already forced to reconcile a gay identity, may also be required to undermine their authentic selves in order to achieve the hegemonic masculine ideal, and thus have more intense struggles than their heterosexual counterparts when it comes to masculine identity development.

The effects of masculinity culture on the development of gay men are apparent.  Just as heterosexual men, gay men are still expected to embody the masculine ideals set forth by society.  These ideals, though, leave little room for individual expression.  Men of all orientations must develop their own authentic masculinity.  However, for gay men, the disconnect between development of a gay identity and what is said to be masculine can create a chasm that may lead to a multitude of mental health issues.  The precursor to many of these mental health issues, and in turn, a significantly higher rate of suicide, is an identity crisis described as internalized homophobia (Szymanski, Kashubeck-West, and Meyer, 2008; Williamson. 2000).  This internalized homophobia is problematic as it creates a dichotomous relationship between sexual orientation and gender performance, creating competing ideas of what it means to be authentically one’s self.

Homophobia is a tactic used by many adolescents and maturing men as a form of hegemonic masculinity performance (Richardson, 2010); however, Kimmel (2010) further explains the idea of homophobia as less a fear of the homosexual and instead describes it as a fear of the feminine.  Further, Kimmel argues that homophobia is a fear of being emasculated by peers and being seen as less than masculine.  It is the fear of the non-conformity to hegemonic masculinity that drives homophobia in men (Swain, 2010).  Gay men are no different than their heterosexual counterparts when it comes to homophobia; though, for gay men homophobia is both an internal and external battle (Williamson, 2000).  Gay men must appear to be both gay and straight simultaneously if they are to be successful in society.  Gay men are expected to be equally as masculine as their heterosexual counterparts or more so in order to be an accepted part of the hetero/homonormative culture (Anderson-Martinez & Vianden, 2014).

Taking in to account that gay men must be conscious of this traditional masculinity alongside their differing sexual orientation there is an identity crisis.  D’Augelli’s model of lesbian, gay, and bisexual development as cited in Evans et. al (2010) provides the introduction to this idea of conflict in his first process of identity development.  D’Augelli’s process states that a person must first recognize their feelings for a person of the same sex and begin telling others of this attraction.  For gay men this is problematic due to the culture of hegemonic masculinity men are expected to follow.  Men are expected to perform their gender as anti-effeminate, dominant, and aggressive (Kimmel, 2008) and thus being in a same-sex relationship is contradictory to societal gender roles (Edwards, 2005).

Society says there is a masculine and a feminine party in each relationship, but in the context of gay relationships both men are expected to be masculine and thus each man must reconcile what his masculinity means within each relationship and how he will perform that masculinity.  The subordination of the feminine in masculinity culture and the notion that to be a truly masculine you must be heterosexual (Swain, 2010) then causes a dichotomous relationship that can and, in many men, does create an idea of internalized homophobia as Anderson-Martinez and Vianden (2014) suggest.  It is here that many gay men struggle.  There is a quest for homonormativity that cannot be met in many cases, as the very goal of homonormativity is to not contest the idea of heteronormativity (Duggan, 2002).  However, same-sex relationships are inherently challenging to heteronormativity due to their non-heterosexual nature.  The forced reconciliation of masculinity with sexual orientation is difficult at best, and many gay men struggle with this, often to the point of mental health issues (Szymanski, Kashubeck-West, and Meyer, 2008).

Suicide, suicide ideation, and depression are no laughing matter.  In the LGBT community there have been a number of highly publicized suicides in recent memory.  There has been much work done to show the links between homosexuality and mental health disorders, and the findings are staggering.  Hershberger, Pilkington, & D’Augelli (1997) found in their sample that over 40% of LGBT youth attempted suicide at least once in their lifetime which was congruent with similar studies conducted by D’Augelli and Hershberger in 1993, as they self-cited within this study.  More recently, Marshal et. al (2011) found that nearly 28% of their participants who identified as other than heterosexual had a history of suicidal events as opposed to 12% of those who identified as heterosexual.  Additionally, Mustanski, Garofalo, and Emerson (2010) found in a study of diverse students aged 16-20 years, the prime ages of college men, that students who identified as non-heterosexual had a higher probability of attempting suicide at some point at a rate of 31% of respondents.  Also, the study found “One third of participants met criteria for any mental disorder” (p. 2426).

King et al. (2008) found a higher risk of suicide attempts over the course of a lifetime in gay men when compared to their heterosexual peers.  Similarly, Bostwick (2010) found a higher than normal rate of depression and anxiety among the same group compared to their heterosexual counterparts.  The struggle with masculinity culture and identity development is easily observed when looking at these statistics, especially considering the ideas of the fear of femininity discussed by Kimmel (2008, 2010), Swain (2010), and Anderson-Martinez and Vianden (2014) and the subsequent propensity for internalized homophobia.

All of this is to say that toxic masculinity culture has profound effects on men of any identity, and for gay men the toxic masculinity game could have intense health affects. As university administrators it is imperative for us to provide programming and resources for all of our students centered on diverse, positive masculinity representations. For men in college, especially gay men, having positive representations of masculinity modeled and taught could make profound differences for gay men in college. Utilizing our Greek students, our student leaders, and our already in effect programming to combat toxic masculinity is a must on our campuses. We have to find ways for men to have discussions in diverse spaces to process and build their own authentic, positive masculinity representations, our world needs it.

 

Danny Foster (He/Him/His) is a Residence Director and Orientation Coordinator at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Danny has a passion for LGBTQ+ issues and hopes to further explore the impact of masculinity throughout the LGBTQ+ community as he further pursues his academic interests. You can reach Danny on Twitter at @FosterDJ2 or by email at fosterdj2@gmail.com

Stephen Britt (He/Him/His) is an Undergraduate Academic Advisor in the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. He enjoys exploring the intersection of academic advising and career development.

 

References

Anderson-Martinez, R., & Vianden, J. (2014). Restricted and adaptive masculine gender performance in white gay college men. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 51(3), 286–297.

Bostwick, W.B., Boyd, C.J., Hughes, T.L., & McCabe, S.E. (2010). Dimensions of sexual orientation and the prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 100(3), 468-475.

Duggan, L. (2002). The new homonormativity: The sexual politics of neoliberalism. In R. Castronovo and D. D. Nelson (Eds.), Materializing democracy: Toward a revitalized cultural politics (pp. 175-194). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Edwards, T. (2005) Queering the pitch?: Gay masculinities. In M. S. Kimmel, J. Hearn, & R. W. Connell (Eds.), Handbook of studies on men & masculinities (pp. 51-68). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Evans, N.J., Forney, D.S., Guido, F. M., Patton, L.D., & Renn, K.A. (Eds). (2010). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice (2nd Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Kimmel, M. S. (2008). Guyland: The perilous world where boys become men. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Kimmel, M.S., (2010). Masculinity as homophobia: Fear, shame, and silence in the construction of gender identity. In S. R. Harper & F. Harris (Eds.), College Men and Masculinities: Theory, Research, and Implications for Practice (pp. 23-31). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

King, M., Semlyen, J., Tai, S. S., Killaspy, H., Osborn, D., Popelyuk, D., & Nazareth, I. (2008). A systematic review of mental disorder, suicide, and deliberate self harm in lesbian, gay and bisexual people. BMC Psychiatry, 8, 70. DOI:10.1186/1471-244X-8-70

Mustanski, B. S., Garofalo, R., & Emerson, E. M. (2010). Mental health disorders, psychological distress, and suicidality in a diverse sample of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths. American Journal of Public Health, 100(12), 2426-2432.

Richardson, D., (2010). Youth masculinities: compelling male heterosexuality. British Journal of Sociology, 61(4), 737-755.

Swain, J., (2010). Masculinities in education. In M. S. Kimmel, J. Hearn, & R.W. Connell (Eds.), Handbook of Studies on Men & Masculinities (pp. 213-229). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Szymanski, D.M., Kushubeck-West, S., & Meyer, J., (2008). Internalized heterosexism: measurement, psychosocial correlates, and research directions. The Counseling Psychologist. 36(4), 525-574.

Williamson, I.R., (2000).  Internalized homophobia and health issues affecting lesbians and gay men. Health Education Research: Theory and Practice. 15(1), 97-107.

Finding my humanity in teaching higher education, By: Dr. Stephanie Bondi

I was beginning to think I’d lost my humanity.  I push the dog.  Scream at the kids.  I roll my eyes at people I overhear talking about things I disagree with.  I feel overwhelmed, incompetent, exhausted, and afraid a lot of the time. Maybe you can relate to some of this. I’m glad to report I’ve begun to find my humanity again.

Last December, I invited folks with a White identity teaching in student affairs preparation to do a training together. We used Sandra Kim’s online program Healing from Toxic Whiteness.  We also held virtual discussions every couple weeks to process what we were learning together.

I’ve learned many things from the training and the community we’ve built.  It’s honestly helped me to reconnect with my humanity. Kim explains how we’ve actually been socialized to interact with each other in dehumanizing ways. For example, we don’t listen to each other.  We think we know what someone is going to say before they start.  We often think we know how things will end and react prematurely. We plan out a whole conversation from beginning to end before it happens. I see this too often in myself.

In the training, Sandra Kim explains the compassionate activism approach. She explains how colonialism and White supremacy have led most of us to know only certain ways to interact with each other.  We know how to judge ourselves and others. We know how to ignore the pain of people of color and other people in minoritized groups.  We know how to talk at each other but not listen to ourselves and each other.

A piece of losing my humanity is using coercion in daily interactions. As I’m writing that I’m thinking it makes me sound pretty awful. Before this training I would have denied that I’m coercive. I certainly never decided, “I want to be coercive. Let’s get started.” But as Sandra Kim explained, sometimes we’re so passionate about something, or we so much want the pain to stop that we coerce ourselves and others.

Let me give an example of coercion. One day a colleague made a comment that landed on me as very racist.  I was sure that the person hadn’t meant it to be, but because of their background, they weren’t aware of the impact that it had on me and probably others. I was nearly sick to my stomach thinking about how I could approach this person to bring it up, but I felt I must.  I imagined the conversation in my head—what I’d say and what they’d say. Over and over and over. I noticed the pit in my stomach and the tightness in my chest. I was a mess for hours as I stewed what to say and how to say it.  As I noticed what was going on for me, I figured out I was mostly worried the person wouldn’t agree with me because either (a) I wouldn’t be able to explain how the comment was racist or (b) because I wouldn’t lay out an effective argument about why they should feel the way I do about it. This is the coercion that I mentioned.

As a teacher, that philosophy of coercion and control informs my curriculum, lesson plans, and interactions. I’m usually thinking “how can I get students to the place I want them to go.”  That’s teaching, right? There are all kinds of tools we use: incentive, requirements, and evaluation.  It sounds funny when I write it out here—teaching is about control–yet I know it to be the ways I often think about my teaching.

Sandra Kim explains a method of compassionate activism which, instead of control and coercion, includes elements of consent along the way.  It begins with the self. Using this method I can ask myself, “Do I want to talk to my colleague about what they said?” instead of doing it because I worry I’ll be a bad person if I fail to talk with them.

In that scenario, I followed the steps that Kim explains in the training.  First, she explains how important it is to do that self-work which involves not coercing or shaming oneself.  It also includes paying attention to pain and how that may motivate us as individuals to move towards or away from different interactions. Only then, once the self-work has been done and one has addressed within oneself the “emotional charge” then an individual has much greater capacity to connect with another person.  In my situation, I needed to notice and pay attention to how I was taking on the responsibility to change another person’s mind and I was fearful that I would not be a good person or ally if I failed to do so.

In order to connect with others, Kim explains we need to ask the other person to share more about their internal reality.  We also need to invite their participation rather than expect it.  Expecting their participation ignores their agency as people and is dehumanizing. It also has a likelihood of being ineffective as people who feel pushed into a situation often resist.  In the situation with my colleague I described earlier I finally went to talk with them. I went only after I realized that I didn’t have to coerce them into believing what I did. I realized I only had to talk and listen to them. I thought to myself, “That’s easy.  I can do that.” In that way I had also released the emotional charge inside me that was swirling.  That kind of human connection—talking and listening– is natural to me and aligns with my values. Once I was able to work through my own emotional charge, I had much greater capacity to listen to and have a human interaction with my colleague.  I’m pretty sure that if I had talked to my colleague before coming to clarity about what was going on inside me, I would have been talking at him instead of interacting with him as a human.

There’s another layer to the situation. There are the power dynamics.  I’m not always tracking those from my mostly dominant social positions as a cisgender White woman teacher, who doesn’t have a disability, from an upper-middle class background.  I hardly think I’m being coercive when I’m talking about my passion for social justice to students. I hardly feel like I’m being coercive when I talk in the classroom about how important it is that we notice how some groups’ needs are met and others are often not.  I’m just passionate.  But taking this course, I’ve noticed that it sure does feel like coercion in the classroom with students and at home with my kids. When I talk about it with passion and no invitation on how other people feel, amidst that power dynamic, it can feel like my way is the only way.  And the students and kids in these situations get turned into the objects of my lessons.  Anyone like to be the object of a lesson?  Doesn’t sound appealing to me.

So, now I’m working this philosophy into my life and my teaching to be on the lookout for my coercive efforts. To pay more attention to how my positions of power may be playing out. I’m focusing on being a better listener and inviting, rather than expecting, people to engage with me. Offering invitations rather than expecting people to engage with us is not the same as allowing people to abuse us or bully others. Kim states that as individuals and groups we can set boundaries about behavior that is having a negative impact in certain spaces and that we can do this still in a humane way, acknowledging the other person’s reality. It’s a slow process for me to unlearn engrained habits.  It’s worth it because my humanity is priceless. And importantly, in my fullness I am so much more capable of being present with people and advocating for justice.

 

Bio: Stephanie Bondi is on a journey to find more of her stolen humanity.  She teaches at University of Nebraska – Lincoln in the student affairs program and is mom to Rylee and Reece. Contact her by email at sbondi2@unl.edu or on Twitter @s_bondi

My First Cabaret, By: Ryan Keesee

It was at the ACPA 17 Cabaret my friend and I made the deal, you enter, I enter. I watched and attended the ACPA Cabaret my second year at that point. I learned how the event supported local organizations focused on the LGBTQA community as well as scholarships for this same population. Watching the performers, I thought it was something I could never do.

When the application for the 2018 show came along my same friend reminded me of our deal, we entered, and were accepted. I entered my stage name as Kinky Blessing. Kinky representing Kinky Boots which I wanted to wear. I always admired thigh high boots and thought about how fun it would be to rock a pair. The Blessing is an ode to my personal college group of friends. We collectively regard ourselves by many group names but we are currently owning The Blessing because this is the title given to a collection of Unicorns. Why unicorns? Well…why not, right?

I grew up in a lower socioeconomic home with my mother and sister on the perimeter of Atlanta or as natives call it OTP. Shania Twain was played…a lot! Who’s Bed Have Your Boots Been Under, Any Man of Mine, & yes….Man I Feel Like a Woman were played throughout the house on repeat. I remember helping with chores and singing to all of Shania’s songs and dancing throughout the house. My love of the songs and the femininity never struck me as something wrong then and I was never challenged until later in life. All I knew was that I loved Shania’s look in the Man I Feel Like a Woman video. When the chance came to select a 90’s song to perform, I instantly jumped to this selection and excitedly pulled together the Shania look.

The search for my clothes was an experience within itself. I specifically recall sitting on a bench in Goodwill trying on a pair of high heeled boots when I looked up and saw a young kid observing me. I perceived how they were trying to comprehend a guy with a beard jerking a pair of kinky boots on his legs. While I was in DSW trying to find THE right pair of boots, multiple stares and giggles were had. My thoughts during this experience were, “This is my lone, one-time experience. What of those individuals that face this everyday? What of those individuals that need a size 11, cause they’re impossible to find! How privileged and blind am I to have never considered this before.” As I pulled one pair of thigh high boots off I felt a muscle fade in my hip and worried a might’ve actually caused real damage in the process of getting my Shania on. I longingly looked at boots I wanted but couldn’t afford. I imagined how fabulous I could be if I just had that one pair of $150 gold studded thigh highs. I found my hat, wig, gloves, and bedazzlement at Party City. I vocally gasped when I found my top hat because it was velvet and beautiful! I hope it becomes a signature piece for me : )

All in all I pulled my outfit together. Then the contemplation came into play. What would my Uncle think? Seeing his nephew wearing studs and make-up? How might my mother explain it to her friends, “this was just a charity experience he was doing.” How do we explain any Facebook pictures to my nephew and niece? How rattled will my college friends be to see their friend dressed as a woman? Owning my identity as a gay man has come with its difficulties, and thus far I have handled it well enough so far; but, was I really ready to explain the world of drag to others? Above my concerns of judgement from family and friends I was even more concerned about the drag community itself. I felt and am, in a sense, an imposter to the scene. Although I received multiple nods as, “a new drag baby,” I was concerned how I may represent this community and if in doing so could I potentially cause harm. As I continued to share the news of my upcoming performance, I continually received phenomenal support. In the end, I resolved to remember the purpose of the Cabaret and appreciate the opportunity I had to contribute. As with other things, I was also prepared to entertain questions and challenges that could arise as a result of my participation. I was proud I had the courage to participate and grateful for the new knowledge and friendships it brought.

Performing in the show was a liberation of my own desire to let it all go and own those things that were deemed “feminine.” My hair I could flip, my lips were luscious, and I damn well fit in a corset. I had prepared a few choreographed moves in my hotel room that all but left me during the performance. My beautiful top hat refused to stay on my head and I may have had a few nipple slips. Overall, though, I felt amazing. I suspended judgement and just imagined myself dancing in my home with my dust rag in hand. It  felt good to let go of my own insecurities and own my Queen.  I received great feedback from the experience and one colleague even expressed how I slayed my performance which was all the validation I ever needed.

Beyond all of this, what made the experience was the people. While my time on stage was LIBERATING, the moments I enjoyed most were standing in the box cheering on our fellow Queens and Kings. There’s something to be said about the strong sense of community that exists within ACPA and within every single performer that poured their heart out that night. We pressed our faces to the glass, screamed, “Yaaaasss,” and offered hugs to each member that returned to our space after their performance. THAT was the Cabaret experience. Knowing we were all there for reasons beyond ourselves and owning that bravery was the galvanizing experience of it all.

To conclude the show, we all gathered on stage to sing, This is Me, from The Greatest Showman, which, if you know the song, is pretty representative of this experience. At one moment on stage, I stopped and thought how fortunate I was to be a part of something so impactful and fun. It truly ignited even more desire within me to continue understanding and advocating for this community. I’m excited to see the Cabaret continue to grow at future ACPA’s and hope to see many more new faces join in the fun. Collectively, I believe, it is an experience like no other to explore the Drag community and truly immerse yourself.

Until next year,

Kinky ; )

 

Ryan Keeseee (He/Him/His) Currently works as the Assistant Director of Volunteerism and Service-Learning at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter as @keesee22.

Discomfort Rather than Fear: A Reflection and Call to Action, By: Danny Foster

I’m uncomfortable.

As I reflect on the incident that happened at the Philadelphia Starbucks just a few days ago, and the subsequent reactions, I continue to be uncomfortable for a variety of reasons. I am a queer, white, cis-male; I am from an educated middle-class family and I hold a graduate degree. I am one of the most privileged people in the United States, and that privilege allows me to say “I’m uncomfortable” over and over again rather than “I’m afraid” or “I’m unsafe,” I feel that’s an important point to make, here. I am uncomfortable because I continue to have to examine how I have been complicit in systems of white supremacy. The Starbucks incident again has me examining my actions (conscious and ingrained). I have never had to fear the police, that doesn’t mean I am always comfortable around officers or scared in their presence, but it does mean I have never had to think “will I go home alive after this interaction?”. That is why I am uncomfortable.

This isn’t the type of post where I give all of the answers or any answers at all, really. This is simply a call for my white colleagues, friends, peers, and communities to continue to be uncomfortable and to use that discomfort as your call to action. It is not enough for me to be educated.  It is not enough for me to have read some really great research by scholars of color. Guess what? It’s not enough for you either

The Starbucks event is not an isolated incident, it is a symptom of something much larger, more systemic and systematic, but because it didn’t result in death, because a white woman recorded the incident, because a few (not even most) white people in attendance questioned the police, and because the two black men were meeting to discuss real estate opportunities with a white colleague it has become palatable for the (white) masses. It is an easy catalyst for white people (like me) to cry “Injustice” but for people of color this is a day in the life. Let this be your catalyst. We (white people) all have to start somewhere, but don’t let this just be your start. Use this as your assignment to do more. Research the murders of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, and the countless other people of color murdered by police in our country. Look at the murders of trans people (specifically transwomen) of color. Dig deep in to our history of segregation, white supremacy, racism, colonialism, gentrification, and oppression. Read about racism. Read about history. Listen to people of color. Hear what is being said. Work to understand the fears of the marginalized around us. Take action in your work and communities. Protest. Be active in your communities and work places. Interrupt systems of oppression, hell, just interrupt the cisgender, white guy in your meeting so your colleagues of color have a louder voice in the conversation. Start small, but start!

We all recognize our role in racism at different points in our lives. Obviously, we want that recognition to be earlier, but if the Starbucks incident was your moment take it and run with it. Take it as far as you can and never look back. One thing, though, white people, learn to follow. We have, for too long, failed to listen to people of color and the most marginalized in our communities because we have always been “the leader.” Remember when I said to listen to people of color? That’s not just to inform you, it is also for you understand the needs of people of color and following through on those needs by using your privilege to amplify the voices. I am not the leader in this moment, and neither are you.

I’m uncomfortable. I hope for the sake of my friends of color I am never again comfortable. I will continue to question my complicity. I will continue to recognize my role in white supremacy earlier every day and dismantle it. I will teach my students that using their white privilege to help people of color and other marginalized identities is more important than their comfort, because for many racism is a life and death scenario.

I hope you are uncomfortable too.

 

Danny Foster (He/Him/His) is a Residence Director and Orientation Coordinator at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX where he lives with his partner, Dylan. Danny is passionate about Social Justice education and restorative justice in student conduct and hopes to one day be a Director for a Student Conduct Office.

Danny can be reached at fosterdj2@gmail.com or @FosterDJ2 on Twitter.

Racial Justice: A Reflection on the Black Lives Matter Movement, By: Allison Hunter

I would like to start by expressing that this is simply my reflection on things I’ve seen recently surrounding the movement. I will also give the spoiler alert that I hope this causes you to rethink your involvement with your students and the community around you. Okay, so here goes. It feels as if no matter where I turn, I am seeing post, articles, news feeds, or brief clips surrounding racial injustice. Even in my direct community, I see men and women of color being mistreated due to the color of their skin. We always say “It’s 2018 in America” or “This has to stop”, but I truly wonder if it ever will. I am very passionate about my experiences as a Black Woman growing up in North Carolina. I have personally been the victim of racial discrimination, but I don’t let it stop me. I use my experiences to push me to affect change for others.

In the later part of January, TV One, a station that focuses on discussing issues in, and the achievements of, the Black Community, announced that they would be airing a series called “Two Sides”. The series is produced by Viola Davis so I knew there would be an interesting twist. The basis of the show is focused on giving the families of many of the victims of police brutality a chance to express the truth of their loved ones case while giving the law enforcement agencies time to express their take.  Watching this series really has pushed me to be emotional about the state of our country. Each episode showcases the lives of the victims before their tragic death. There is a clear theme amongst them all, these were Black people with limited opportunities, living in the inner city, subject to the mistreatment of their local law enforcement. From the stories that have already aired, the Eric Garner and Ezell Ford stories, my sociological mind has been thrust into analyzing the many social structures that have failed these men. Based on the information provided it almost feels as though they were both targeted by the systems that are in place to keep them safe. This causes me great frustration and sadness. These emotions led me to pay closer attention to the lives of Black men around me. In the past week, I have been informed of instances where DWB or Driving While Black has impacted someone I know. It almost makes me wonder, what are we doing wrong as a people?

I have taken the time to reflect on our history as a community and it leads me to believe one thing. We have done nothing but what we were designed to do. Systemically, we were brought to this country to be the mistreated and impoverished. Thankfully, we have opened our eyes to the systems around us and we and our allies are fighting to change what history is trying to dictate as our future. How do we impact this change? I think that answer is simple. It may manifest differently for each of us but, as educators it starts with us. Taking the time to lead by example, hearing the voices of all our students for who the are, respecting their experiences, and admitting our biases is a huge first step. For me, I hope to inspire others to use their education as the key to open many doors and to mentor those coming after me. I know those don’t sound like concrete things but, it’s what I know I can do, along with my civic duty to vote and be involved in my community. What you do, is strictly up to you. But please do something. Don’t let people continue to lose their lives in vain.