The Social justice, Equity, Accountability, and Transformation (SEAT) event at Springfield College that is built-up of community members from various schools, coming together in collaboration to create a plan of action with the goal to inform its viewers — including topics that correlate to social justice, identity, power, privilege, positionality and transformation.
Those who were in the audience of “White People: Teach Thyself!” got to listen to some personal experiences that Dr. Patrick Love went through as he embarked on his journey to better educate himself about the BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) community.
Before the audience was a maroon screen marked with several bullet points listed on it: Reflect on your personal race awareness journey; Practice race and privilege mindfulness; Excavate personal bias; Explore extant literature and media; Create a personal action plan. The bullet points Love created are steps one has the option to take to gain a better understanding of the BIPOC community.
“It is my hope that you will choose for yourself what you will take,” Love said.
The first step is to reflect on your personal race awareness journey. Ultimately tying together with the presentation, a picture of a trail that is composed of many turns appeared.
“The journey is not a straight line,” Love said.
One of the personal experiences that were shared was a song that is titled “You’ve Got to Be Carefully taught,” sung by Richard Rodgers. This song played quite frequently over and over at Love’s house, containing lyrics that insist that one should fear those of a different color. After drilling the song into Love’s head, he recalls his father saying “that is not how we think in this house.”
The next step is practicing race and privilege mindfulness. This step requires a reflection upon the unfair burdens placed on Black people in society. Love shared an article, written by Peggy McIntosh, titled: “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Prior to reading this article, Love described his privilege as “pretty invisible.” Reading that article made it clear.
“It was an eye-opener for me and my doctoral colleagues especially,” he said. “It was the first clear description and challenge to us to look at the other side of the coin.”
In this case, the coin in reference has two sides. One side represents bias and discrimination, while the other represents privilege.
“It generated uncomfortable emotions in us [such as] shame, guilt, and embarrassment that we had to work through.”
The article had a lasting impact on Love as it created a clear, more vivid understanding of his privileges that were invisible to him no longer.
The next step is excavating personal bias, meaning one must use “finer tools,” to sift through the bias that lays just beneath the surface. To better the connection between the audience and excavating personal bias, a riddle was presented before the viewers.
“A father and a son get into a car accident, the father dies. The boy is taken to the operating room and the surgeon says, ‘I can’t operate on this boy, because he is my son.’ How is this possible?”
The surgeon is the boy’s mother. Thirty years ago when Love first heard of the riddle, he asked some of his strong, female, feminist friends and they did not think it was the boy’s mother at first, because they were as influenced by the gender bias as others in society.
“There are other biases that still exist within me that I have not yet excavated, and that is my life long quest,” Love said.
The next step is exploring extant literature and media, which to some can actually be the first step.
“My own awakening, mainly in high school, came through literature.”
He referenced the book, “Black Like Me” — it’s about a white man who chemically changes the color of his skin, and travels to the deep south for six weeks to experience life as a Black man.
“As a young teenager, I found very accessible and just connected; it moved me powerfully,” he said.
Love explained how literature and media are everywhere today and that it is easy to become educated, as long as one is willing. By following all of these steps, the last thing that is required to do is to create a personal action plan; figure out what is necessary to become more educated.
“You need to be open to being transformed, it isn’t just about learning about what it’s like, it’s about changing yourself in the process of this education and development,” said Love.
There are many ways to become educated, but it is truly up to oneself if they choose to accept it.
Photo: Springfield College Office of Multicultural Affairs