Best of N.A.H. April 2017

On the 1st of each month, I share links to some of the best posts from my blog, Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian.

Here are selected notes from April 2017.


“Fear is a formidable opponent. In my work as a social justice educator I work with students, staff members, community members, professors, and other professionals for whom the very nature of their environments or professions demand that they be “competent”, and speak from a place of confidence and security in their areas of study, work, or expertise.

In a way, many environments as they are traditionally constructed are inherently designed to foster a climate of posturing and superficiality where folks put on a mask and pretend that they know information about individuals or groups of people under some guise of cultural competence that they don’t actually have. Social justice elitism, or the use of language as a tool to shame and exclude other people who don’t know as much is another form of posturing.”

“You Can Keep That”

“As we started someone shared “this is the least important to me, because I am the least important to it.” I did the mic drop motion as an affirmation. I acknowledge the immense privilege that comes with being an American citizen. I also acknowledge that all the privilege that comes with it, does not negate my experiences as a Black person in this country who knows the answer to DuBois’ question “How Does It Feel To Be A Problem?”; whose everyday experiences can keep me questioning every interaction, from getting doughnuts to examining larger systems.

For me, I realized that I picked citizenship not because it was not important, but because of all the other identities in the room, I realized that it was the least felt; and is the least felt on a consistent basis because of hypocrisy, because of white supremacy.”

In Dialogue, “Ground Rules” Are Meant to be Liberatory

“While data and statistics have their place, speaking from personal experience is a crucial element in intergroup dialogue. It is through sharing our personal experiences, even though they may be different from others’ experiences that gifts us the opportunity to gain valuable context into what led them to their current worldviews, a deeper understanding our own worldview after listening and reflecting, and at times, an improved sense of connection, among other outcomes.

Still, one of the hardest shifts for me to make at my initial introduction to intergroup dialogue and my subsequent training as a facilitator was moving from speaking from the head, to speaking from my heart….

In my continued work with dialogue I have noticed the same difficulty with some participants and facilitators in training with making the shift to leading with the heart. Many of us are accustomed to debate; to feeling pushed against a wall, and feeling the need to push back in return, and at times that dynamic is brought into dialogic spaces, but dialogue cannot be had unless we as facilitators co-create the space with participants that are conducive to it. One way to co-create that space is through the establishment of “ground rules” or guidelines.”

More notes from the archives can be found on The Best Of N.A.H. page.


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones, MSW, LLMSW

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Relando Thompkins-Jones

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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