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Working through threat and crisis

kdiamant's picture

I found Blackburn’s discussion of “negotiating threat lovingly” (95) interesting and helpful, and it reminded me a lot of what Kumashiro said about crisis. Blackburn writes about how youth perceived to be LGBTQQ and allies experience threat on a regular basis, but that what she had not previously realized was that, in efforts to combat homophobia, she was actually threatening those whose ideas she was challenging. Blackburn writes that she started to wonder whether threat was always good or bad. Like Kumashiro says for crisis, she comes to the conclusion that threat is something to work through, rather than avoid. She writes that working through threat lovingly requires a process of inquiry and “[believing] in others’ knowledge” (95).

I do find it really useful to think about crisis or threat, challenging what is so engrained in a person, as something to be constantly working through. At the same time, reading the idea of threat in the context of LGBTQQ people and allies who experience threat, as well as those whose ideas were being challenged, it feels like maybe the way that threat is experienced and should be dealt with might be really different depending on the power dynamic in play. Should LGBTQQ people and allies be expected to deal with feeling threatened in the same loving way, inquiring and believing in the knowledge of those who hold beliefs that are threatening to them and act in potentially threatening ways? I feel really uncomfortable with this. I think that, for this reason, I prefer Kumashiro’s version of crisis. Kumashiro says that “learning things that reveal the partial and oppressive aspects of our knowledge of and actions in the world can lead us into crisis” (30). In crisis, we are asked to look at ourselves, the power that we hold, and the potentially oppressive nature of our knowledge or actions. It is important to deal with it in similar ways, working through it, understanding multiple perspectives. I am not sure if dealing with discomfort/crisis/threat in this way completely solves the problem, but at least it deals with the issue of power in some way. I think it is really essential to recognize issues of power in threat, and to realize that threat may be experienced very differently depending on both the power of the threatened and the power of the people who they feel threatened by. 


BlueBird's picture

Spaces to Speak?

As I was reading from Blackburn, I was truck by chapter three, “Preparing for and Asserting Agency in Schools.” It raised a lot of questions for me not only about the creation of safe space (i.e. does a safe space have to be an exclusive space, in other words, not a public school system?) as well as raising questions about who can educate and advocate. I understand the importance of allies, and I know that we have had reading that discussed the idea that those who are of the similar backgrounds in one regard may not necessarily connect better with students of similar backgrounds because there are other aspects of their identities that may be different, but I wonder what it means, in terms of power shifts, to have someone who is treated as victim in many cases facilitating a conversation and what that means for the people who are learning.


The role of the Speaker’s Bureau is important not only so people learn about others around them, but so that the others can have a space to not be, well, others and be leaders or facilitators in conversation about their own identities. In terms of being of the same identity as students when educating, while other aspects of identity may differ, it is important that students see that people of typically marginalized or otherized identities (if I can use poetic license), can be advocates. This is something that is not replaceable if there is no common sense of identity across educators and students.


I began thinking a lot about Speaker’s Bureau and creating safe spaces in classrooms. The role of the teacher in the book seems to be creating a safe space and making sure to intervene in oppressive behavior so that schools become safe space. I fully agree that teachers should interrupt oppressive behavior, no questions asked, but I also wonder how much interrupting this behavior means silencing another’s voice in the classroom. I am not sure that silencing another’s voice, even if it is hurtful will be beneficial in the long run to students (although I agree that bullying is bad). I understand avoiding threats and the need to educate people about an issue, but nobody can ever learn about the realities of others if there is no space (hopefully it would be a safe one that models reality) to “mess up” around diversity questions or learn about the perspectives of others, even if they appear ignorant or hurtful. By no means do I want anyone harmed by open dialogue, but there is something to be said about learning from each other through discussion and clarification rather than simply being told what is right and wrong. This is especially important if there is a space where one identity dominates (say a racial identity) and there is no space for the voices of others. In short, I think I am thinking about the way that safe space and education about a background can be a space of silence for others, either because they do not know how to reconcile their identity with what is being said, or because they are afraid to speak up. In this case maybe the role of teachers should be more neutral in facilitating space, however I do believe that teachers should actively create an anti-oppressive space. Maybe this means creating a space where it is comfortable to take risks?


I am not sure if this made sense…

BlueBird's picture


Hi, I just wanted to say that I posted my post in the wrong spot on accident (and I put it in the right spot)!