*Expanded and revised October 11, 2018
Powerful image. Courageous piece. It pulls the curtain down on white privilege in the academy. Dr. De La Torre is on point, "Scholarship can never be cutting-edge if one is ignorant of all aspects of their discipline." I would even say that it involves a lot of personal sacrifice. The beauty of this challenge that Dr. De La Torre lays out with respect to diversity, coupled with issues of equity and fairness, is that it's about figuring out how we can all get along better in the world.
How much can we empathize, care, respect, and feel love for one another as a diverse humanity without one party requiring the other to hide, occlude, or feel shameful toward specific aspects of their being, including their ways of knowing and being in the world.
I write this at this very moment that Hurricane Michael wreaks havoc on the Florida panhandle and southern Georgia. Are y'all keeping tabs? Sadly, and with a deep sense of anguish that is keeping me up tonight, I still have Hurricane Harvey, Maria, Irma, and Florence in mind.
Is the world taking note of what is happening to us here environmentally in the U.S.? Perhaps they're enmeshed in their own environmental challenges and ecological crises, too.
My message to all this evening is that we are an enormously diverse humanity—by race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, culture, language, religion, nationality, and so on, on the one hand, and that we are all on a collision course with Mother Earth, on
This means that us humans aren't only not always good with diversity, but that our relationship to the only Earth mother that we have is fundamentally flawed.
We can begin changing this around by working on policies that reduce our carbon footprint. Tax the polluters. Require transparency in local, state, and national energy policies. We can also cultivate subjectivities that are more ecologically progressive and Earth-focused, and social-justice oriented, too.
It all ties together, of course. If we see (and are taught to see) women, people of color, immigrant children, African Americans, indigenous peoples, poor people, gays, lesbians, transgendered persons and so on as (reducible to) objects—or numbers on a piece of paper, in the Cloud—this maps on perfectly to an already, equally objectionable, objectifying posture that far too many hold toward the planet. And much to our own peril, I fear.
Ok, my abuela, my grandma' epistemology is kicking in right now. I'm due soon to be a grandma again. So I'm elated, of course. But I am also very reflective of the world that we are leaving for the coming generations.
And I don't want to feel fear or be discouraged. And I don't want anyone to feel this way as a matter of course either. What kind of a life is that? Yet that sense of dread, anger, estrangement, and hostility is at times so fierce that it threatens either to kill or to engulf.
Pardon the water metaphor.
Ok, bad taste...but it doesn't have to be this way, my friends.
I refuse to let the evil spirit that got unleashed in this country with the Trump election to penetrate me. To get anywhere near my family or my soul.
And this IS what what that bad, evil spirit wants. It seeks not to uphold diversity, benevolence, or democratic values, but to deny, weaken and de-spirit those constructed as "other."
The same ol' punishing stuff that's hurting not just the kids, but everybody, prevails. It's sad and pathetic to think that one of the primary preoccupations of federal and state government education agencies have after such disasters is with getting all the students tested. Or they're focused on turning everything into charter schools, allowing the for-profit, charter sector to come in and take over. This is "disaster capitalism," as coined by Naomi Klein that preys on communities at their most vulnerable.
Alienated students is what we often see in the schools, most especially in those schools that are subtractive, erasing children's cultures, languages, and community-based identities. By the fourth grade, sometimes earlier. The children get de-spirited.
Many are already so afflicted. Too many forces opposing them and their families. Poverty, food deserts, gentrification, ICE, and microaggressions at so many turns. Macro ones, too. And yet our families largely remain strong, buoyed by high hopes for their children and the planet.
And this IS a resource, my friends. The incredible resiliency of our communities that we all so need to tap into.
From a consciousness-raising perspective, the trick here is not to think of this as a radical break from the past, an extreme moment that we're in.
Yes, it is extreme but we need to understand this as a logical extension and consequence of conquest ("invasion") and colonization and the colonial imposition on native peoples and their descendants of a culturally-specific way of knowing called "Reason" that however much we might dress it up, still ends up being consistent with oppressing native people and slavery, and forms of dispossession and dehumanization that continue into the present. For 526 years, to be exact, beginning with when Columbus first set sail.
Like Dr. De La Torre, we all must have courage right now not because we're endowed with any particular or special faculties or capacities, but rather because fear and discouragement—even if they're not entirely avoidable—are luxuries that neither we, nor the geo-historical or geo-political moment that we are currently in, can afford. We need all hands on deck.
I am confident that if we all just did our small part, our granito de arena, we might could re-make the world—even as it re-makes us.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.
The American Red Cross is always a good organization to give to given their years of experience in relief work. I am sure there are others.
And please do read Dr. De La Torre's cogent piece below.
This is an important read.
Several years ago, during a tenure-track search, I asked two questions – two questions which I ask of every scholar applying for a position with our institution. The first is innocent enough: “How important is racial/ethnic diversity in your scholarship and teaching?” Not surprisingly, all enthusiastically answer in the affirmative. Then I ask my second question: “Which scholars and/or books from racial and ethnic minorities do you include on your syllabus and why?” Here is when the squirming begins, revealing the candidate’s lack of academic rigor.
|Courtesy of NSF.gov.|