UW Graduate School

November 23, 2016

Self-Reflection and Dialogue

Many of us will be spending the long weekend with loved ones—both biological and chosen.  A time for sharing and holding space with family and friends is much-needed—not only because you have all been working so hard this quarter—but also because the current political climate has been difficult to bear (to say the least).

This time can also serve as a starting point for us to think beyond solely expressing gratitude—and beyond feeling despair—to in fact being self-reflective about initial ways to show up for social justice.  And to put that self-reflection into dialogue with loved ones.  Here are a few examples (not exhaustive by any means):

Learn.  If you’ve been curious or interested in supporting communities most impacted by multiple oppressions—Black and Native communities, Trans and Queer communities, Muslim communities, People with Disabilities, and Undocumented families are just a few examples—an important first step is to learn about their diverse histories of community resistance and resilience in the United States.

Listen.  Attend public events where the voices of marginalized communities are truly centered and amplified.  Listen with humility.  Sit with, rather than respond to, what might feel like a knee-jerk reaction to interrupt or be defensive—and just listen.  Hear from multiple voices within a single community—as no individual can represent the whole.  Here are concrete ways listening can be used to further social justice.

Dialogue.  If we are to end systems of oppression like racism, sexism, transphobia, ableism, or xenophobia, conversations about these issues must be initiated within our own communities—amongst our own families and friends.  I know what you’re thinking, “You want me to start a conversation about oppression with family during the holiday?”  Not necessarily, because when and how you chat with family and friends depends on the context.  We do know that ignoring the reality of oppressions will not make these issues go away.  It is through the recognition of this reality that we can begin to move forward. And always remember that you can practice self-care during the holiday.

Take good care this weekend, and we applaud you not only for your commitment to intellectual and professional pursuits but for your community engagement as well.

With Respect,

Kelly, Jaye, and Ziyan
Core Programs Team