“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace…peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal..” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
I envision a world where equitable and inclusive communities that are respectful and inclusive towards the needs and concerns of people from a variety of cultural backgrounds can be established and maintained as a result of conflict resolution through non-violent communication and social action.
My passion lies in a desire to address equity issues in education, and much of my experience involves working with underrepresented students in pre and post-secondary education, and with people with disabilities.
I hope to continue to have experiences that will strengthen my ability to be able to serve these populations, while being able to continually expand my knowledge base and skill set in order to be even more inclusive and impactful in my efforts to make connections and build understanding between groups across differences.
My approach to working toward social justice pays attention to the importance of building relationships, education through consciousness raising and the sharing of personal experiences, the search for connections to others in those experiences, and addressing conflict and inequality through peaceful actions. I seek to improve intergroup relations by honestly acknowledging and addressing dynamics of power, privilege, and oppression while trying to establish common ground by emphasizing the interconnectedness and interdependence between groups.
“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
I seek to live a life that is fruitful in working toward improving the human condition by working toward advancing intergroup relations and understanding; to intentionally live in a manner that shows respect for all human beings by fostering caring, mutually respectful relationships. This can only be achieved by having a commitment to continuous learning.
I understand that social justice work begins within, and my personal growth and development will be a life-long process. Through ongoing self-reflection and assessment, I strive to remain consciously aware of how my social identities intersect and affect others in terms of how I perceive them, how I may believe that I am perceived based on my identities, so that I may present myself in a way that eliminates barriers in communication. In this continual self-reflective process, I also strive to recognize triggers that prompt an emotional response within me so that I can become more self-aware of how my thoughts impact my actions. I also work to think critically about any biases that I may have, so that I may come to recognize roles I may play that are oppressive to others, as well as find ways that I can act against oppression through social action. It is my hope, that by living “intentionally”, my actions will match my values and aid me in impacting the lives of others in a positive way.
The following are among a few of my guiding principles.
The inherent dignity and worth of all people.
While I have had and continue to have experiences of being “out in front” in terms of leadership, I value the notion that no action is too small that works toward making progress in improving the lives of others. For example, when I consider my work with students of color, it is my hope that my actions today will make life easier for future generations, as others have done for me through their own sacrifices. Instead of being concerned with being “out in front”, sometimes I think a part of our purpose can be to help others figure out what their purpose is.
Enrichment through Communication with a Focus on Equity and Inclusion:
“Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968).
It is only after engaging one another peaceably through both dialogue and action that we are able to begin breaking away from ideas which ultimately prevent us from working together for the good of humanity.
Reciprocity in Relationships:
I believe that we are teachers and learners, and that relationships can be mutually beneficial. As I know that I have skills and experiences to offer, so do others with whom I come into contact with.
Community, Collaboration and Interdependence:
I am a firm believer that success is rooted in building positive, mutually beneficial and collaborative relationships.
“A single straw of a broom can be broken easily, but the straws together are not easily broken.”
I also believe that we are not islands, isolated to ourselves, but that our destinies are interconnected. In continuing to search for and use the greatness within myself, I also seek to see the greatness in others and to be in a constant way of collaborating and that is as inclusive as we are interconnected. This is no small task, and can be a life’s work in itself when considering the weight of those words. However, I think the lifelong process of becoming can be just as important, if not more so, than the end result.
Courage and Humility:
Having the courage to take risks and be confident in my abilities, while simultaneously being able to acknowledge that I do not have all the answers. Operating in a system where we are so often expected to be “experts” on a particular topic makes it necessary for us to be able to have courage and humility me to be able to be honest with others in terms of seeking assistance and deeper understanding.
Personal Growth, Professional Development and Continuous Improvement:
Including critical consciousness. My experiences have shown me that in the process of working toward social justice outwardly, it is also important for me to continue to critically examine myself; shedding attitudes/behaviors that are oppressive, to make room for those that are more inclusive and humanitarian. In everything I do, from facilitating dialogues, to sending an email, or interacting with new people or close loved ones alike, I try my best to ensure that my actions are demonstrative of my value and respect my fellow human family members, and my commitment to social action in the form of service.
This list is not all-encompassing, and continues to change and grow as I do. However, having a “roadmap” or sorts helps me to remain focused in challenging times.