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IDEAS FOR LESSON PLANS

Over the past few weeks I have been cross-referencing the syllabi and have some suggestions and questions for CFS...

*Week 4/16/13 of the graduate course is discussing the welfare state for older adults--i.e. welfare identity--> maybe in CFS they could read some Theda Skocpol to discuss the gendered welfare state--pretty feministy! ha!  It could be cool if they read something by Anaya Roy to discuss microfinance, we talked about it in my class with Professor Fairbanks this semester.  We didn't get to dive into the gendered politics of this, but it seems to operate in contrast to Dean Spade ideology that is anti-capitalism.  Even though Roy is trying to provide an alternative to neo-liberal capitalism, it's reliance of wealth, ownership, and consumership--worthiness of who deserves to be supported by microfinance is all very much embedded in identity politics.

*Instead of the Gender Workbook... I am having a hard time locating a book that is focused more on the big picture.. pieces like "Master's Tool" and "Feminism" Political Praxis" seem too tangible to soon at this point... over the summer I plan on returning to some of my political theory books about identity politics.  Maybe Behdad or Spade might be cool here?  I'm not sure...

*What is going to happen during the section on feminist disability studies for your class?  For crip time are you going to do the same exercise?  We talked about Bryn Mawr so much at this point in our class and the relationship between time and identity in reference to BMC...  would there be a way to talk about caregiving/wellness/balance/ and time--at Bryn Mawr it seems that both (self)-caregiving and time are not very compatible in our rigorous academic environment?  What institutions do this?  Why does this happen?

*The end of all of your syllabi are synced really well--especially the graduate school course and yours.

 

*In the 4/2/13 week of the graduate school course focuses on diversity and the experiences of adults and older adults... in the syllabus there was a reading on medicine and stigma...

Since I think we did talk about this to some compacity in CFS last fall in the reference to the normative "construction" of gender.. pretty much all the time like it was always relevant since we constantly debated worthiness of bodies--stigma...

I think it could be cool if we talked about this in terms of personal experience--What is the relationship between identity and medicine--specifically how does one's identity impact the ways in which they are able to interact with Bryn Mawr's "healthcare system"--i.e. Health Center:  Medicinal and Counseling and the Gym

-I think that this would be a site of community for many people possibly?  I have heard many people complain about stigmatized treatment at the healthcare because of their class, race, gender--I think it might be interesting and allow them to relate to the 360's general curriculum

 

I think that is all I have for now... maybe I should post this so I can reference/add/remove from the list--I just didn't know if it was private?

Right now this is a rough breakdown of each lesson plan and some ideas with the readings:

 

LESSON PLAN 1

I am not sure if this would work well more in the beginning or end of the class--it seems that it could go somewhere around feminism unbound in your class... I think that this is the same time that there is discussion about the US welfare state in the Social Work class.  Essentially through this exercise I want to be able to bring the meta to the tangible--commit some form of resistance/activism... through a medium other than a typical essay. 

Rationale:  I think that often times it is very easy for us to place and remain passive within the "ivory tower" of academia, I was very inspired by Anne's notes from the Dean Spade's lecture at the college as his calls to active disobedience and usage of normative/linear paths for justice.  After having conversations with several students and reading the notes, it seemed as if people were very motivated to look at Bryn Mawr and use tactics of coalition building to create change within our undergraduate population.  Given that many of the readings for Criticial Feminist Studies are rather theoretical, I want help students facilitate different ways to express their identity and the politics surrounding it.  I want this to be accessible, sustainable, and interactive--MOST OF ALL FUN!!  I have been very inspired this year by fellow black feminists on twitter, I think that this year specifically more activist of marginalized identities have been able to use this as a medium to discuss and create discourse both within and outside of their actual communities.  In recent news the notion of #hashtagactivism has been very controversial, many doubting that there is no actual change happening--this is all talk.  However I do believe that this dialogue has the power to create change, through twitter specifically there is active listening and speaking amongst a broad group of people--that is inevitably sustained by building connections and relationships with others.  For this exercise I want students to use "non-linear" mediums to express their identity, with the intent to commit an act of resistance/civil disobedience/activism.  I also want this to be sustained--however this does not mean that the content of their medium cannot evolve/change/shift in direction. I want them to ACTUALLY express these theoretical ideas of identity and political activism, through their our presence/identity. 

Goal for this lesson:  Explore different mediums to commit an act of resistance or activism deriving from student's own self-affirmed intersectional identity. These mediums do not have to be created for this project specifically, I would actually prefer for students to use an already established medium/platform.

 

Ideas for mediums:

-Curated playlist/imagery sets

-Video/Film/Documentary

-Twitter: #hashtagactivism

-Any other social media sites

*Please bring up any issues with accessibility!!!!

 Readings/Additional Materials:

**I was really interested in Dean Spade's notes... I have a couple of questions that I would like to elaborate on but I think that the overall message of consciousness and activism through tangible field work empowering.  I felt that his discussion on American identity a bit problematic and maybe something to be discussed in class--possibly through one of his texts?  It was the part when he said that when settlers embraces he American identity they are essentially embrace colonialism...  I guess I am taking issue with the term "settler"--enslaved Africans became forced settlers building and acting as the economic foundation for the United States.  I am a Black-American, this is the identity I embrace because I have been displaced by colonialism--I have no other "home" "nationality" than American, but I don't think I can be identified as a settler?

I'm not sure... what do you think?  Does he have a text/article when he specifically talks about this? 

**Suey Park interview:  http://www.salon.com/2014/04/03/cancelcolbert_activist_suey_park_this_is_not_reform_this_is_revolution/

**Master's Tools?  Audre Lourde

Classroom Breakdown:

10mins:  List all of the mediums that you think you express/define your identity--whether you think it is fragmented/distorted or holistiC 

15mins:  Break up into groups and share lists

Discussion Questions: 

*Which medium do you think expresses you identity in the most "accurate" way?  Why?  Did you create it... meaning was it not required of you in some capacity?

**Big Group:  Discuss the readings and conversations in groups**

 *Is distortion inevitable?  Why is it attached with such a negative stigma?  Why are expected express ourselves in the same way, if we do this through numerous mediums--often simultaneously.

Lesson Plan 2:

Rationale:  Although the topic of affinity groups are often controversial--I believe that this is due to a lack of knowledge of what purpose they serve and the assumptions about inclusivity and exclusivity in relation to membership.  Given the amount of hostile racial discourse in relation to affinity groups and allocation of resources that has resulted in language thematically embedded in "us versus the other" rhetoric, I thought it would be interesting for students to interact across different respective identities as groups tend to remain homogenous--racially.  Although I think that Bryn Mawr as an institution and individual students are believers, participants, and advocates in calls for allyship across different identities, I think that this term is often left undefined and unable to build/sustain actual community and understanding.  In this assignment I am asking for students to attend a group meeting (preferably some sort of racial affinity) that they do not self-identify with.  During the meeting I would encourage students to LISTEN, do not attempt to assimilate these voices.  This does not mean I do not want students to participate in discussion, however I would remind you to be conscious of your tone and word choice--be aware that these spaces operate as many students only "safe space".  I know for myself Sisterhood is a place where I can speak unfiltered--without having to explain, defend, or substantiate feelings/opinions about race, specifically my identity as a Black-American woman.  I believe that this activity will expose students to a different identity, illustrating the heterogeneous narrative and nature of marginalized affinity groups/identities.  After the meeting, I would encourage students write notes immediately after in order to have fresh and accurate notes (data)--it is also important that they ask to participate and inform members of the group of the assignment.  Please write down your notes, then write a brief reflection on your experience. 

 

***I also think that this would be a good time to discuss the adaptive unconsciousness reading--as I think that Ann Berlak's narrative would be good here.  And I also think that this relates to "ethical listening"--maybe we can tie it in to their assignment or it can be an extension of it?  Might be cool to have people of different affinities in classroom pair up and do this with one another?

Goals:  Simulating a short observing-participant exercise, by attending a affinity group meeting that is different than their own.  I hope this that will allow for students to be pushed outside of their comfort zone.  Although many of identify with a group that would be considered to be marginalized, it is also important that we recognize different of lived experience and narrative.  We will also discuss theoretical terms and explore academic works (listed below).  I hope that this exercise will also help us define community--is Bryn Mawr a community?  If not, can a community be fragmented--fractured?  Is community-sameness-homogeny against radical feminism--is difference politics compatible with community and feminism?

Reading:  "Cosmopolitan Canopies" Elijah Anderson,"Politics of Difference": Iris Marion Young, an excerpt from Ann Berlak

 

LESSON PLAN 3:

Rationale:  Wendy Brown's essay on "feminism: unbound" was thought-provoking, I felt as if it rested on an informal but also understood definition of feminism that was a bit provincial.  Although feminism has been a hot topic for the past few years, there has also been rise of intersectional feminism.  This has manifested in an emergence of feminists that have been historically, still VERY currently marginalized.  However given that these people remain outside the mainstream bounds of feminism, it is interesting that their mediums have been "non-traditional".  This is a shift from the academic "stamp" that continues to represent white socio-economically privileged cis-gendered women, these acts of claiming "feminism" through speech, music, and general media content have been contested and challenged. 

As a member of the BEYHIVE, I have been inspired by her album and self-claimed feminist identity.  Beyoncé is more than just the QUEEN *bow down* of music, she was able to cultivate and essentially brand her own feminist ideology and mantra into the pop culture.  Of course there has been much debate on whether she is a feminist or not, but her ability simultaneously use multiple mediums of expression to declare herself as a feminist is feminist within itself.  Since there is no real definition of feminism, I believe that if we are able to recognize it's fluid nature this would allow for more inclusivity, intersectionality, and praxis within feminist discourse.  In this assignment I would like for students to address the topic of "FEMINISM: UNBOUND" though a media project.  THIS IS VERY FLEXIBLE.  What is feminism: unbound--does it exist?  if so for who?  Where--Bryn Mawr?

Reading:  maybe my mantrafesto?  **I want them to watch videos--I will discuss in person, maybe they can share some of their fave visual media displays of feminism on serendip for inspiration?

***I don't expect students to do all of these, almost just pick one they like, let them know when it will be due--I want it to go with the course material...

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"Unbinding Bryn Mawr: Where the Personal Meets the Political"

As we have been attempting to “Unbind Bryn Mawr” through our independent study, but also in Critical Feminist Studies, I have been struggling to let this plan come to fruition.  I use the word “let” consciously because I want to hold myself accountable for my lack of communication and/or words that I have yet to contribute to this conversation.  In order for this paper to make ANY grammatical sense, I want to first give a quick synopsis of my racial autobiography in the context of my time at Bryn Mawr.  Although this may seem redundant—as we have discussed many of my past experiences in person—I think that my experiences not only parallel those of Ann Berlak’s and Sekayni Moyenda’s racially autobiographical narratives, but I also feel that I must “unbind” myself too—to immerse myself in “unlearning oppressive pedagogy”.  For the sake of time and space, I am going to use last week’s town hall on race as a micro-level example of my orientation towards the college and race.  This epistemic resource will then be elaborated on within macro-level frameworks of pedagogy and hegemonic forces presented by Ann Berlak, in relation to my experience with professors.  Berlak’s framework also illuminates a racially adaptive unconscious, in which I will define and apply within the context of Bryn Mawr’s community.  I am not sure if I will be able to provide solutions, except to possibly use this framework within the classroom?  In conclusion I am proposing that we implement this pedagogy in the classroom next fall as a way to expand on intersectional and difference feminist discourse. 

I want to start of my narrative by first stating that I did not attend the town hall and I do not intend to assert opinions of the voices/stories shared by students, administrators, and faculty/staff.  This account is only representative of ME, as I do not speak for any other students, specifically ones of color. 

It was difficult to be excited about the town hall meeting last week…

I was apprehensive to the format of the town hall, in addition to the voices (loudest) heard in the forum that have traditionally been overwhelming white.  Initially I thought that this meeting was going to be a traditional town hall format enabling for a more widespread communal discussion, however in class prior to the forum I was told that discussions would mainly take place in small group discussions.  Although many of my classmates (predominately white cis-gendered females) found this format problematic as many of them found this as an act of the administration placating the community.  However I felt that maybe this is where more minority voices could be heard—acknowledged?  I knew that for my white friends that their longing to “expose” Bryn Mawr were acting in ally-ship, but I wondered at what expense would this act cost—more importantly whose?  Who was this going to be more taxing for?  How do these stories, re-telling of lived experience trigger us?  Who has the right to tell these stories? 

Although skeptical, I was excited that the administration was taking the steps necessary to facilitate long overdue conversations about race at Bryn Mawr.  I say this because in my time here there have been many “racial incidents” such as Perry House, an unconceivable amount of racial micro-aggressions, “rumored” mishandling of club-funding, limited faculty of color, and the catalyst for the town hall: defamation of a professor of color.  I could sit an explain each of these incidents however I don’t know if the actual “facts” or “rationale” behind these incidents even matter at this point.  Of course it is important to hear an accurate backstory, as many of these points of conflict prove to be a lack of- or misunderstanding in- communication, however the feelings and opinions that emerge in these times illuminate a fragmented vision of inclusivity and community that is often racialized.  I would also argue that these themes seem to sustain and embed themselves as institutionalized racism, in which repeated incidents marginalized students feel silenced and disenfranchised.  Many times in these cases we turn to quick fix solutions, resulting in some form of compromise—often times financial.  However these incidents manifest in debates and discourse, embedded in self-affirmed identities—which I believe to be inherently personal, emotional even.  I want to make clear that this racial climate impacts OUR entire community—including those existing outside the “Bryn Mawr Bubble”.  However I would argue that the emotional and mental toll experienced by students of color is more significant, as this is where we can locate the epicenter of tension that is often invisible to the larger college population. 

As a Black-American woman—student—it is often times difficult for me to articulate the amount of energy my body exerts in discussions about race, academic and socially, given that I am aware how powerful my voice is as a Black-American woman in many of these spaces.  I must admit that speaking in these spaces, specifically academic, because many times I am able to substantiate my argument with evidence that is able to transcend racial barriers as we consider it to be “vetted” or “fact”.  However this academic year I have been pushed beyond these borders, enabled to build a relationship between my own lived experience/identity (micro-level) and social theory that both perpetuates and attempts to dismantle society’s hegemonic forces (macro level).  I guess I have always done this, but to speak about this experience authentically has been draining—emotionally and mentally.  I am in space that is uncomfortable—and I am unable to find the words to articulate it.  It is ironic how I am so comfortable with Anne, as I would be lying if I said I do not spend much of my day biting my tongue at my white “feminist” friends.  It is not that I do not appreciate their input and passion, but there comes a time when privileged voices must make room for the marginal—if they CHOOSE to speak.  Maybe it is specific to me, but sometimes I get frustrated at the lack of consideration for how these discussions linger with me—they become a part of me, not just something we talked about in class.

I would say that this praxis enables a vulnerable learning space, in which we are most often fearful to confront and forced to hold one another accountable.  It is not the micro-level discussions, classroom debate, communal (undergraduate) discourse surrounding race that worry me, but how we are able to bring them into a tangible macro-level ideals.  How can we still remain within the bounds of academia without undermining the power of lived experience as it relates to the way we learn?  In response to this question I have chosen to unpack Ann Berlak’s expansion on the racially adaptive unconscious in her essay, Challenging the Hegemony of Whiteness: Undoing Whiteness in the Classroom.  It seems as if these ideas have acted as a catalyst in my thinking about our independent study—and our ambitious task of “unbinding Bryn Mawr”.  Albeit exciting, this notion felt overwhelming due to time constraints, but also because we only be able to tap into small facet of our community.  As I began to read about Berlak’s claims for the racially adaptive unconscious as an overlooked site in our understanding of difference, privilege, and power—I felt as if I was finally given the language to express what I was looking for!  I believe that Berlak’s use of the adaptive unconscious in relation to her commitment of “unlearning oppressive pedagogy” has illuminated the simultaneous and layered processes in which we think and retain new information. 

After reading Berlak I began to think that it seems that many of our attempts to dismantle privilege, specifically through academic discourse, reinforce hegemony itself.    It is frustrating to feel as if I have to validate my own feelings as a Black-American woman I must reference the perspective of the white male patriarchy—albeit in academia.  This is not to say that there are not numerous scholars of color that are also available for me to reference, however in relation to the my experience with the some of the social sciences adherence to their respective “academic cannon’s” discussions can remain to be embedded in a very privileged in perspective.  I am also questioning the way I have been taught—even who I have been taught by?  I have always been the minority in school, which I believe impacted my identity to be more defined as a Black-American woman—always being placed/playing that role.  However it is interesting to me that I have had only 5 teachers/professors of color since I was in ninth grade that I believe inhibits my learning experience, but the two most important teachers in my academic career, have been white women—both named Anne—J!  My eleventh grade English teacher Annie Thrower-Patterson and my Critical Feminist Studies Professor Anne Dalke have expanded my perspectives on race the most out of any people that I have met, but most of all there was a trust built—an ally-ship.  I feel accepted by both of these people, who have proved their trust to me by also being authentic in their experience.  I would argue that this is because my experiences in their respective classrooms were arguably one’s of “unlearning oppressive pedagogy”. 

Similar to my teacher and professor, I felt that Ann Berlak’s words indicated an authenticity about her experience as she chooses to only speak for herself (47).  In addition to this, her tone throughout the piece was never absolute—leading me to believe she was also open to introspect and actually listening, as an act of building ally-ship in the journey towards racial equality.  Although these characteristics of Berlak’s narrative are not necessarily based on content (her actual experience), but instead her word choice and diction I believe that they are equivocally relevant because they are indicators of self-awareness and accountability—which are vital to her role as an ally and actor in “unlearning oppressive pedagogy”.  Berlak’s ability to hold herself accountable, without excuses of innocence due to ignorance, reinforces her self-awareness about her social status and power as a white woman in the fight to dismantle racial hegemony.  Berlak’s reformed pedagogy is intended to enable marginalized/once silenced voices emerge in the classroom environment, possibly even in the sphere of educational academia itself (47). 

I believe that Berlak’s model uses tactics to build alliances across difference, enabling people of differing backgrounds to create coalitions to fight social injustice on both micro- and macro-level systems/structure.  I believe that this ideal is AMAZING, but I know that many teachers/professors do feel as if they practice this in their own classroom and teaching, when they in fact do not.  Specifically from my own personal experience, I have had very few professors that honor, celebrate, or acknowledge perspectives from racialized lenses as valid claims.  Of course this would be without the supplementary evidence to prove how these immeasurable emotions and opinions (journeys?) that are considered to be valid by proven [traditional] method depending on the academic discipline.  It is interesting to study yourself—to really see how society, history, and academia have told your story—how they have misappropriated my identity.  Although many of these social theories are in fact attempts to dismantle and unpack stereotypical black identity, however is our act of generalizing and limited variance in identity oppressive within itself?  I question whether we can ever unlearn these early embedded societal hegemonic ideals because of socialization.  However if allies in all context are able to acknowledge this actual “ACT” of unlearning, would this provide accountability for allies which is necessary to build coalitions in our community? 

In my exploration of these works I believe that this lack of emphasis on the significance of the racially adaptive unconscious in relation to understanding the social psyche of race for the individual, but also the macro-level racially adaptive unconscious of our greater society—and groups (canopies?) existing within it.  The racial adaptive conscious is unable to negate racist tendencies to given its categorical and sophisticated nature, regardless of how we undo them.  She says:

“The central theory is that we have two non-redundant information-processing systems that are relatively independent of one another.  These two systems have evolved in different ways and serve different functions.  One of these, the adaptive unconscious, operates almost entirely out of conscious view.  The adaptive unconscious is far more sophisticated, efficient, and adult-like than the unconscious portrayed by psychoanalytic theory.  It can set goals, interpret and evaluate evidence, and influence judgments, conscious feelings, and behavior.  People can think in quite sophisticated ways and yet be thinking ‘non-consciously’.  In fact the mind relegates a good deal of high-level thinking to the adaptive unconscious.  Wilson calls in adaptive unconscious because it has evolved to enable human survival.  It permits us to notice danger and respond to it quickly (Berlak 50)”.

I believe that this concept is also applicable to macro-level structures, such as academic institutions like Bryn Mawr.  It seems as if this lens would illuminate Bryn Mawr’s racially adaptive unconscious, possibly illuminating where these institutional issues lie.  As an attempt to “unbind” Bryn Mawr, I believe that using Berlak’s praxis of the racially adaptive unconscious and “unlearning oppressive hegemony” will tactfully begin to mediate this discourse through dialogue and acceptance of difference.   

As many institutions similar to Bryn Mawr attempt to unlearn/undo injustice (in both micro- and macro-level senses), maybe our inherent structure of learning at an elite college/university will never be able to truly be inclusive to students of color.  I truly believe that the administration of Bryn Mawr is trying to dismantle these structures, but it is almost as if these problems are so systemic that are questions are inept to solve the problems at hand?   I believe that we must try to illuminate truth through historical narrative and sociological legacies, in order to supplement our “unlearning of oppressive pedagogy”.  In critical feminist studies our discussion of Bryn Mawr’s first-wave feminist past, illuminated an allegiance to an essentialist ideal of women—that was not created for women of color, let alone people of color.  Granted these issues were reflective of the racial climate of the time period as they are now, but if we are not willingly to problematize these racial hegemonic forces then we are not committed to diversity and equality of difference.  As stated many of these tensions are due to misrepresentation of identity and marginalization of voice which remain to be intergenerational, as these were grievances expressed in the first- and second-wave movements of feminism.  Bryn Mawr is a micro- level example of society that is in fact idealized and remains relatively within our bubble, however I believe that Berlak’s pedagogy would unbind Bryn Mawr by tapping into our racial unconscious. 

I hope to provide a greater understanding, perhaps insight into the ways in which the adaptive unconsciousness influences the ways in which we are unable to completely “unlearn” racial hegemony—as it has been so deeply engrained into the fabric of every social institution and practices that define it.  However I hope to argue that this awareness of the adaptive unconsciousness will allow dismantle the notion that these disparities can truly be “fixed”, given that we have yet to problematize the how/why the most progressive/”aware” institutions and individuals are still able to perpetuate hegemony without accountability.  I am weary as to who I can trust in this fight—Recently, I came across some words from Suey Park in an article for www.Salon.com, she says : “…I don’t want any ally who is going to use my emotional labor with no guarantee of aiding my liberation.”  The consideration to not misappropriate or speak on behalf of others—as generalizing is a common tendency in these conversations as we have grown lazy in our ability to articulate nuance and variance across seemingly racially distinct “monolithic” identities—or maybe this is just our adherence for homogeny, community. Ally-ship is found on trust, a mutual commitment to authenticity and vulnerability, especially in the context of race.   I say this because I do believe that allies are often stereotyped, misunderstood in their intentions in ally-ship—however I believe that this is also a cost of marginalized voices feelings used as tools in their labor. 

In conclusion, I believe that this these bound of ally-ship in correlation with Berlak’s practice of “unlearning oppressive pedagogy” and adaptive racial unconscious would be executed fairly well in Critical Feminist Studies.  I believe that the class within itself questions traditional ideals of feminism and the ways in which gender and sexuality intersect with multiple identities.  As I believe that this class operates within frameworks of intersectional feminism and politics of difference, maybe our class can operate as an example—possibly idealized—microcosm of Bryn Mawr.  I believe that this pedagogy will enable participants to hold themselves accountable for their role within these power structures, allowing for a more honest dialogue for participants.  I believe that putting these ideas at the forefront of the discussion will enable a cohesive, fluid, and intimate dialogue at a quicker pace, as we will hopefully bypass/touch on typical surface level discussions about race.  If allies in academia, like Ann Berlak, are able to acknowledge our learning as an initial act of undoing oppressive learning, as she prone to mistake and constantly holding herself accountable—I believe that this will result in actual social change.  I hope that this will begin to the status quo that has been perpetuated, in which many professors/academics are already aware of racial injustice but remain complacent in their own pedagogy of tradition and historically “valued” voices of our academic sphere.  More importantly I hope that this “experiment” will be shared amongst our community—especially faculty/staff—as I believe that this will begin to build relationships for a cohesive community, thus truly embracing diversity if identity and perspective.   

 

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RD: ADAPTIVE UNCONSCIOUS--TAPPING INTO THE UNENCUMBERED SELF

**THIS NEEDS MAD WORK.  Last night I had to deal with an unexpected crisis--my apologies Anne I will have this cleaned up by the weekend.

I really enjoyed the use of narrative to act as a catalyst for larger dialogue by both authors.  I guess as I say this I am thinking that this would be every author’s intention, but given their active use of “autobiography” I believe that this allows the reader to relate to either Ann or Sekani on a deeper level.  Even if the reader falls somewhere in between these two juxtaposing perspectives, I believe that their honesty and illumination of their adaptive unconscious in conjunction with their conscious efforts to “undo” racist pedagogy is very genuine.

Ann Berlak’s narrative was very familiar to me as a reader, given that it was very similar to that of my peers in high school.  As a Jewish (white) cis-gendered female ally, I was not surprised by her socialization of color-blindness and inherent inability to understand racism on both a micro- and macro-level structure—although she experienced it every day.  Initially when reading her narrative about her socialization of color-blindness (B1 39)  I gave a  BIG ASS EYEROLL, however her honest—unencumbered—words indicated a realness about her experience and journey through the seemingly impossible act of “unlearning” our racist hegemony and pedagogy.  Her tone throughout the piece was never absolute—leading me to believe she was also open to introspect and actually listening, as an act of building ally-ship in the journey towards racial equality.  I also believe that her ability to hold herself accountable, without excuses of innocence due to ignorance, reinforces her self-awareness about her social status and power as a white woman in the fight to dismantle racial hegemony.  Her reformed pedagogy is intended to enable marginalized/once silenced voices emerge in the classroom environment, possibly even in the sphere of educational academia (47).  However, I question how this will work in a system of academia that people of color are inherently questioned on their experience and credibility as they are deemed unable to contribute rational and objective perspectives?    

These disenfranchised groups are presented as homogenous entities, which is even further perpetuated by the lack of conversation/shared learning of one another that would enable the professors and students to honestly share ideals and hold one another accountable while *INSERT QUOTE HERE MAYBE*   As a sociology major I often find myself frustrated at the way sociological method is interpreted/executed by the author/researcher because I believe that sometimes in order to control for validity, variance, and correctness (different word?) it can be racist within itself.  How can sociologist, specifically white sociologists, represent people of color—specifically Black children (especially boys)—analyzing their behavior if the sociological cannon continues to consist predominately of old white men?  And in many cases race is never even mentioned, specifically in the American context in which citizenship is supposed to define the individual before any other status…  

I believe that the most significant part of Berlak’s racial autobiography was the  goal of “unlearning oppression pedagogy” I believe is the most SIGNIFICANT part of her text because of its similarity to the “politics of difference”.  I say this because she defines this model as a tactic to build alliances across difference, enabling people of differing backgrounds to create coalitions to fight social injustice on both micro- and macro-level systems/structures.  I believe that this ideal if AMAZING, but I know that many teachers/professors do feel as if they practice this in their own classroom and teaching, when they in fact do not.  I say this because it is rare to experience a professor that honors, celebrates, or even acknowledges a racially oppressed perspective.  I do believe that this is also due to the power dynamic of professor and student, but also the mutual lack of realness and personhood acknowledged for one another.  If more teachers were to acknowledge the power differences in the classroom, that I believe would create more of an equal footing by somewhat dismantling the intended relationship of the teacher and the student to supporters in academic interest and overall passion in mobilizing change.  By acknowledging the different backgrounds and orientations of students, especially in relation to material I believe this would have a huge impact on students and teachers as it would be more fulfilling academically but also personally.

I say this because many times when reading about the social theory or ethnographic data regarding students of color and education, I remain frustrated at the author/researcher’s lack of humanity for their subjects.  Many times it feels as if subjects are being talked about, instead of talked to about their experience—sometimes it can seem that the same structure/academic trying to dismantle racist hegemony will always inherently be institutionally racist due to their structure.  *INSERT QUOTE FROM ANN BERLAK’S OTHER PIECE*unable to actually penetrate the racially adaptive consciousness of race that  derives from an oppressive perspective, which in case people of color cannot be analyzed due to the lack of nuances and understanding of various everyday disparities experienced by/placed on students of color in the academic sphere. In conclusion I believe that my experience as a student of color that within the academic sphere we continue to perpetuate racial hegemony by predominately using the lens/frameworks and tactics created by the white male patriarchy.  Accidently I read Ann’s narrative before Sekani’s, which I immediately connected and empathized with her because her journey was relatively similar to mine and emulated many of the thoughts/experiences/emotions that have become institutionalized in my life.

Although I completely support and DO NOT question Sekani’s narrative in which she defines many of her experiences and thoughts as “internalized oppression” or an inability to recognize white racial hegemony, I believe this is also due to her nature to give people the benefit of the doubt.  She is not naïve to assume that everyone is treated fairly, as she has experienced personally, *INSERT QUOTE*.  I believe that her ability to recognize unfairnessM because SHE WAS AMERICAN, while unable to recognize this macro-level structure of institutional racism is due to literal unknowingness of how racism is enacted/enabled in both spheres.  Therefore her provincial scope was of course due to age but also her mother’s ability to regulate her access to language and greater knowledge about racism that existed beyond her known bounds, so is that really internalized racism? 

In addition to Ann and Sekani’s respective narratives I also read Ann Berlak’s essay “Challenging the Hegemony of Whiteness by Addressing the Adaptive Unconscious”, in which she analyzes and reflects on her implementation of her model: “unlearning oppressive pedagogy”. 

The racial adaptive conscious is unable to negate racist tendencies to due its categorical nature that are almost inherent, regardless of how we undo them. Unbinding Bryn Mawr’s adaptive consciousness:  we inherently place students and ourselves within the space/limits of first wave feminism regardless of how much undoing has been/will be done.  If we do not acknowledge this past whole heartedly, illuminating the countless unheard narratives of faculty/students of color at Bryn Mawr college due to this legacy/massive intersectional oppressive institutionalized structure that seems to go even beyond the bounds of Bryn Mawr, as it is just a micro-level example of academia.  If allies in academia are able to acknowledge our learning, as Ann, as an initial act of undoing oppressive learning, prone to mistake and constantly holding herself accountable, I believe that this will result in actual social change.  This will dismantle the status quo that has been perpetuated, in which many professors/academics are already aware of racial injustice but remain complacent in their own pedagogy, modeled after a white ideal unable to adjust to their rhetoric of “allyship” and “awareness”.  This is dangerous.  This resistance to change inherently places students of color (and faculty of color) in a box, I believe this is where adaptive consciousness might come into play?  As many institutions similar to Bryn Mawr attempt to unlearn/undo injustice (in both micro- and macro-level senses), maybe our inherent structure of learning at an elite college/university will never be able to truly be inclusive to students of color.  I truly believe that the administration of Bryn Mawr, all of the actors/players here, are trying to dismantle these structures but it is almost as if these problems are so sesemic that we must additionally try to illuminate truth to our learning of oppressive learning, recognize the trauma that will be experienced *INSERT QUOTE* and create productive and critical pedagogies that enable particpants to hold themselves for the racist power structures that be and their role in them. 

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