A year ago on Martin Luther King Day, it was still President Obama and President-Elect Trump. The nation as a whole was living in a jittery state of uncertainty about exactly how January 20 would change us, and as yet unaware of the extent to which January 21 would play a role in reframing the context for the Trump presidency.
“Please join us in wearing black tomorrow in solidarity with men and women asking for equality, respect and meaningful change within all industries. Pass it on. #WhyWeWearBlack #Time'sUp” - Alyssa Milano (Jan. 6, 2018)
Ms. Milano’s tweet referred to the Golden Globe awards, where many women were planning to wear black as a political statement, drawing attention to both the #WhyWeWearBlack and #TimesUp hashtags. On Sunday, it was announced that eight stars had invited key activists in the #MeToo movement to attend as their guests, including the movement’s founder Tarana Burke. In turn, Ms. Burke released a joint statement on her Facebook page: “(...) Our goal in attending the Golden Globes is to shift the focus back to survivors and on systemic, lasting solutions. Each of us will be highlighting legislative, community-level and interpersonal solutions that contribute to ending violence against women in all our communities. It is our hope that in doing so, we will also help to broaden conversations about the connection to power, privilege and other systemic inequalities. (...)”
This morning, Sarah Littman shared an article entitled “A+E Chief Nancy Dubuc: Abuse of Power Begins With Unconscious Male Bias (Guest Column).” Among Ms. Dubuc’s takes on the Harvey Weinstein scandal: “We're hearing that there have been attempts to report on this for years, so how does something time and time again rise to that level and then when it's finally reported, everybody gets to say, "Oh, I had no idea"? Something there doesn't make sense.”
The thing about viral campaigns on social media is that, while it can be argued they may raise awareness to some degree, they can also make it possible to feel good about doing something without actually doing anything of major significance. The recent surge of #MeToo posts seems to be a welcome exception, if nothing else sparking innumerable conversations that go far deeper than a simple click-and-share.
I hope this finds you well. In honor of the International Day of the Girl, my students will be hosting several Hangouts to connect girls around the world. The conversations will be self-directed by the students who attend, with student facilitators. We hope to provide an opportunity to unite girls across borders on the ways we are similar and bring us closer together by celebrating our differences.
(This post was written after encountering yet another courageous link admiring yet another courageous blog about the importance of courage. While that blog, and thus this post, is centered on the diversity of gender and sexuality, I want to explicitly recognize that many marginalized people have been saying exactly the same thing for years, be it non-white people on “courageous conversations about race,” disabled people on “inspiration porn,” and so on.)
It builds up over time. Sometimes, you ignore it. Other times, you shake your head. Or mutter, “I don’t think so.” Or suddenly close your laptop and jump up and stride away. And then, every so often, you crack.
I understand that in our society, how we dress is linked to respect. Though I love wearing gym shorts and a tank top, there are certainly occasions where I wouldn’t do so.
Alfie Kohn is one of my educational heroes. His thoughts and work have infused my practice for decades, as well as that of a number of my colleagues, and from our first days in 2004, these principles have provided key foundations and touchpoints for our middle school program. I follow him on Twitter, and read nearly everything he shares.
I started a blog post back in mid June entitled “Beyond Intentions,” but time and time again I would crank out a few sentences or even a paragraph and then grind to a halt, staring at my screen with an increasing sense of despair before acknowledging I was - once again - stuck. Stabbing at my laptop’s keys (apologies to our IT team, Tod and Jason!), I would erase everything in my Google Doc and, with a mental sigh, find something, anything else to do.
(title courtesy of Nancy Flanagan)During the early summer heat wave in Europe, stories were turning up all over the Internet about boys wearing skirts to school and men wearing dresses to work. Jake Steward (our English Department Chair) sent me an email one day with a link to an article I hadn’t yet seen (though it began to crop up increasingly frequently), “ Teenage Boys Turn Up at Devon School Dressed in Skirts.” At one level, these boys may not have made that choice if (in order of ease of remedy) a) their schools had a dress code that permitted boys to wear shorts, b) their schools had air-conditioning, and/or c) climate change wasn’t contributing to ever more extreme weather patterns. But at another level, there was fairly rapid and widespread buy-in to the skirt protest. I’m honestly not sure that would have been true just five years ago, no matter what the weather.