White Like Me Notes- Part II

Posted on February 10, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A continuation of the note-able quotes and my additional thoughts from White Like Me by Tim Wise:

Instead of feeling guilty Wise says that white people should be resistant to prejudice: “The power of resistance is to set an example; not necessarily to change the person with whom you disagree, but to empower the one who is watching and whose growth is not complete”- This line speaks to what I think is perhaps the greatest good within higher education. It speaks to my original hypothesis on the connection between the principles of social justice and higher education linked here

The question that remains is “How do I plan to empower those who are watching?”. To this I say that I will intentionally create an office space where all members of the campus community can feel welcomed and respected. I will aggressively seek out professional and personal development opportunities that will push my comfort zone with issues related to diversity, privilege and oppression. I will open myself up for critique and be secure enough in my intentions to admit when I have acted in ignorance.  I will be gracious enough to admit my mistakes and accept the fact that I am limited by my own experiences and education. I will never assume that I have learned enough or have done enough to stop learning about social justice issues or fighting for equality. I will seek out, respect and take into account diverse experiences and knowledge when creating programs and offering support to student populations- I will empower others to have their voice heard. In all these ways, I will set an example for those who are still developing.

At the end of Wise’s book he compares a belief in a higher power to a belief in justice. Neither can be proved- it all comes down to faith. One must have faith that the fight for justice is worth fighting even though it will never end and it will never answer any particular question. I think that displaying a faith in justice is another way that I can set a positive example for others who are still developing their own perspectives on social justice, privilege and oppression. With this being said, I fall back on the ethic of care model, which helps me acknowledge that my concept of justice is unique to my experiences and identities and therefore may not line up perfectly with another person’s definition. Despite these differences, I will keep the faith in my concept of justice. I will continue to believe in an ever-evening playing field that responds and rewards those who use their skills, abilities, and privileges to enhance and empower the lives of others.

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    The challenges, successes and ideas of a budding (student affairs) professional

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