I’d like to think that I am an advocate for social justice, inclusion, and learning. Am I always perfect at all of these things? Definitely not. But I’m open to being challenged, to acknowledging missteps, and to growing from the experience.
I’ve been reflecting on a conversation we had in class a few weeks ago regarding the desire within student affairs to create inclusive environments for all people. In that conversation, the statement was made on whether our inclusivity silences the “exclusive” voices. In thinking about that statement, I wondered, “Where/How do those viewpoints fit in the work that we do?”
I stand by my belief in the detrimental consequences that occur when there is a lack of recognition in the unearned access and resources or privilege, we have. I think I’d be remiss to overlook that. But I’ve thought about what that means in spaces like a student affairs classroom, where certain voices that are often “the loudest” in our society go unheard in that space. Is it not the point for us to learn from one another?
I believe that as long as a value/faith/belief is not harming another, that individual can continue on their way. But how do we evaluate what that harm piece looks like. For example, blue cheese. I’m not a fan. But if someone loves it, that’s their prerogative. But don’t force feed it to me or I will not be a happy camper. Not social justice related, I know. But now let’s think of it the context of social power. Let’s talk about marriage equality. If you believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman, that, again is your prerogative. But I don’t believe that these individuals should have the power to impose that belief and hinder the rights of others. And we could go into a whole blog series to discuss this topic alone but that’s now what this post is about. For today, at least.
So how do we navigate these differences in our values/beliefs? Do we recognize that values differ from individual to individual and leave it at that? “Agree to disagree?” Personally, I don’t think that’s the best option. Or do we find a way these values/beliefs intersect so that we create collaborative environments that move us forward to create positive social change?
What I do know is that it’s up to every one of us to be open to learning from others to understanding what our own identities and lived experiences mean, and to figuring out how we can all uncomfortably but lovingly coincide with one another.