Email to Alice,
On Saturday night, I sent Alice an email that began like this, "Hello Prof. Alice,
I decided to read the June Jordan article because it really interested me in class, but I still have a few burning questions, especially after our last class. How can one not betray themselves, and still achieve an ends within a society where who they are is contrary to the power structures in place. In other words, how can I work against the system within the system? Should I play along with them in order to achieve my ends? Or should I toss it all aside and be me, write like me, and talk like me?"
I was really stirred up by the class, but what broke me was this article. I'm a political science major with an education minor and I'm thinking of focusing my studies, and eventually my PhD in power, social justice and politics. This is extreamly broad but what keeps me up at night are systems of power, why they exist, why some people have it, why some don't and what can be done to reconsile the resulting inequality. The article about police brutality while studying injustice abroad and the idea that justice might just be a pleasant, but still distant dream really spoke to me. I have always been aware of the way I speak, and write. Even as I'm writing this, I'm aware of my tone and style and how I've been trained, explicitely almost, to write this way and speak this way in order to be successful and later on to be understood. But, I can also speak another way, one that is less seemingly cohesive but is still understood. Yes it involves slang, and double, or triple negatives, missing words, and a tone that many find rude or disrepectful, but it's part of who I am. My language/tone isn't the only thing that has been assimilated out of me, but this is what I will choose to focus on for now. I am working on an initiative that is aimed at embracing the diversity at my college, but how can anyone fully embrace diversity,and the languages that go along with that, without sacrificing their carrer in academia?
I guess, if I'm summerizing my questions and concerns, it's how can I be me, but be successful when society, and the system that I am working within say that a part of me is bad? How can I accept every part of me at one point and then have to reject it in order to get ahead? And in order to have meaningful impact in the word and teach others to embrace differences and learn from them, do I have to betray my beliefs, work within a system I don't agree with so that others can be more free? These are all tough questions, but I hope this course helps me with that more. Even with my initiative, me and my friends/collegues are always ranting to each other about how we want things to be, and then have to edit ourselves in order to meet what we would like to see as our ends.