At West Chester University in Pennsylvania, the department of psychology, ethnic studies program and the Dean’s office co-sponsors Progressive Pupil’s Coping with Microaggressions workshop and a screening of the film Black and Cuba featuring a Q&A with Dr. Robin J. Hayes. The programs were spearheaded by Dr. Janet Chang. For more information about how you can bring Progressive Pupil programs to your campus, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of us women, people of color, and members of the LGBT+ community dread these first few days of the new year. The prospect of returning to campuses, nonprofits or companies where we are isolated, harassed, and blocked from success can be disheartening. In my own life, discrimination fanned the flames of doubt and shame I internalized through living in a society where I rarely saw anyone who looked like me-or loved like me-enjoy professional success.
If you’re steeling yourself against microaggressions, mansplaining, or other inappropriate discriminatory behavior, remember two things.
1. It’s Not You.
Discrimination is not something you can prevent with professional excellence, code switching expertise, or fitting into racial or gendered norms of behavior. It is driven solely by perpetrators’ allegiance to White supremacist, sexist and/or homophobic beliefs. (Whether that allegiance is subconscious is not your concern). Discrimination is illegal precisely because it has nothing to do with your actions.
2. You Are Not Alone.
Chances are you are not the only person at your campus or organization that desires a more inclusive atmosphere. To the extent that your feedback is solicited or you have decision-making authority about diversity-related programs, suggesting more trainings and cultural events might jumpstart the constructive conversations about equality and inclusion your organization needs.
I am hopeful for progress. The more we speak up, the swifter change will come. Happy New Year.
Yours in Solidarity,
Progressive Pupil announces its programming line up for the 2017-2018 academic year. With the award-winning documentary Black and Cuba, prize-winning one-woman show 9 GRAMS (recently featured in The Advocate) and always thought provoking workshop Coping With Microaggressions; our programs contribute to learning at universities, nonprofits and corporations throughout the US and abroad.
Download catalogue .pdf here
“How do you get students to accept help?” a teacher asked me.
She was one of a diverse group of dedicated, intelligent young educators who help high school students from smaller income neighborhoods attend college. During our recent conversation, it was mentioned that some of their most hard-working and focused students arrive at a university, confront challenges with course work and then—heartbreakingly—refuse to seek or take advantage of help that is available.
They are so determined to do it on their own, her colleague explained, “because they want to help their families.” These educators’ compassionate concerns and the heavy burden their students are carrying stayed with me. When a teacher asked me, “How did you manage to get the help you needed?” I realized that during my entire career as an African American, working-class, queer woman student (Pre-K through PhD) I never did.