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Kumashiro Response

stalada's picture

Kumashiro's work really spoke to me as interesting to think about in relation to Bryn Mawr College (and perhaps other small liberal arts colleges), especially in light of recent events that have been happening around campus. In particular, I found it a perfect time to be reading this work, with today being a community day of learning. When thinking about frameworks for anti-oppressive education, I think about my experiences at Bryn Mawr and wonder if Bryn Mawr functions on such a framework - or hopes to function in such a way. Today's events speak to me as an aim to do exactly what Kumashiro hopes for anti-oppressive education frameworks, by "recentering education on issues of social justice, that is, on a social movement against oppression" (Kumashiro XXIV). From my understanding, the community day of learning did EXACTLY that. We stopped all other classes, to re-center our learning on important issues of social justice. While I personally have many issues with the institution of Bryn Mawr College as a whole, and with select staff, students, and faculty, I feel empowered as a student today to be part of an institution working (or trying to work) in an anti-oppressive framework. 

Perhaps this community day of learning came far too late, I would say it most definitely did. But it happened. The various problems on this campus are reflective of larger problems that occur outside of the Bryn Mawr bubble, and change can occur every single day, just as Kumashiro hopes. I become increasingly frustrated by the people who tell me things such as "that's just how it is" or "that's never going to change," or "people will always be that way" because my question is this: WHY? We are ever-changing and moving creatures and just because something is difficult or has been long standing does not mean that it should persist. It certaintly does not mean that we should not aim for change. Kumashiro also states in his Introduction, "anti-oppressive education is premised on the notion that its work is never done" (XXVI). And he is correct. Today's community day of learning was a step in the right direction, but Bryn Mawr has a LONG way to go. I think we all do. We can all take more steps in the direction of an anti-oppressive education framework. 

I think in trying to take these steps forward, we need to have some REAL discussions about how the teaching and learning here at Bryn Mawr college supports and upholds systems of oppression every single day. I can think of a few ways myself...