Yesterday I wen…
A few weeks ago, I went to the optimist office to order some glasses, a pretty standard errand and therefore no obvious pitfall to watch out for, or at least in my opinion. There I sat patiently waiting for someone to help me and then WHAM out of the blue I hear it: Christmas music. And I’m not talking about your “red nose reindeer” or “holly jolly” stuff, but the full fledged “little baby Jesus” variety. My feelings went from surprise (after all it’s not even the day after Thanksgiving yet), to anger (why are they choosing to play this stuff- another example of the majority culture being obvious), to a feeling of not being welcome and lastly to disappointment in myself for not feeling empowered to say or do anything about the situation.
Basically I went through most of the stages of identity development in the span of about a minute. Of course, this could happen because I’ve already experiences this model through many identities (white, women, GLBT, Jewish, upper-middle class, to name a few) and been through the stages at a much less blazing speed, but all the same it was a bit disorienting. Ultimately what matters is that I ended up feeling marginalized and unable to respond in a way that explained my feelings and left me empowered. Despite all my work in the identity development arena, I still find myself puzzled at times. I also think that any opportunity where I am marginalized is an opportunity to think about where else this occurs both for me and for those I work for and with and how I can speak on not only my but others behaves when it comes to these feelings.
So I leave you with these questions:
What are you doing to create welcoming environments for students, co-workers, and visitors?
Is there a point where trying to make everyone comfortable become generic, uninviting, sterile?
When was the last time you felt marginalized and how did you respond?
And as always happy thinking!