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.
(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.
Because we are on spring break this International Women’s Day, the question of whether and how we might be participating in the national “day without women” never really came up. I’ve heard of public school districts where sufficient numbers of women have requested the day off that they have simply cancelled classes for the day, and here at my wife’s school (a girls school which is still in session), some of the kids have expressed their desire to participate.
Suppose our own school were in session and had made plans to participate. What might a day without women have looked like?
by Gabrielle (Bri) Rooks '18
For as long as I can remember, image has been everything. What people think about us seems to be the main focus for many. We tend to put ourselves in categories. Sometimes we start to label people before we know them. Say you are walking down the street and you meet someone for the first time. The first thing you probably notice about them is what they look like and what their actions are implying. This automatically triggers us to put a label on them. It so common for us to look for differences that we tend to lose sight of what we have in common. When we see someone with a disability that keeps them in a wheelchair, we automatically start looking at them or treating them differently based on that one thing that “defines” them. The only thing that makes you different from that person is the way you are choosing to look at them. In a community, there are categories that people fall under based on the definitions we have created. For example, there is the higher class, the middle class and the lower class in a community. Looking at a specific community such as a school setting, you find categories for the jocks, the geeks, the popular and so on. Who decides these categories, these labels, these stereotypes? Who establishes the things that define each of us? Well the answer to all this is quite simple — WE DO! We put ourselves in these categories. We are the ones who give each other labels. We are the ones who stray away from what is not “the norm.”
I will be out of town on Saturday morning Dec. 10 and unable to attend the weekly Vigil for Racial Justice. But I stand nonetheless in support of our student who was twice subjected to racial harassment last weekend in our town, and in support of all our students of colour. I stand alongside others from our school who feel the same way. And I share here, scheduled to post the moment the Vigil starts, the poster I made for the first morning I attended.
I look around and notice more and more conferences paying more and more attention to race, class, and multicultural competence. Last year’s Teaching and Learning Conference was a great example of a huge step forward, and this year, they consolidated that step forward with a good number of awesome and thought-provoking keynotes, panels, and sessions with noted educators of colour such as Renée Moore, Pedro Noguera, and José Vilson, and perhaps most significantly, 11-year-old Marley Dias. Ms. Dias found herself frustrated by the dearth of books featuring Black girls in her school; when her mother asked her what she intended to do about it, she didn’t hesitate for a second. In November of 2016, she launched the wildly successful #1000BlackGirlBooks drive, more than quadrupling her initial goal. (Teaching and Learning 2016) You can find her website here.
The total feminist failure I am, I haven't planned anything for International Women's Day. Help. - Queen Lilipop (tweet posted Monday, March 7, 2016)
Well. The total feminist failure I am, I hadn’t even known International Women’s Day was upon us. It wouldn’t have taken me long to realize it, though, as my timelines today have been flooded with tweets and posts (many of them from Queen Lilipop!), and as Facebook offered up a memory of the year I went to Radnor University to demonstrate on the bridge in support of Zainab Salbi and Women for Women International. One of my first clicks was on this video posted by The Global Goals and shared by Girl Effect which laid out four major areas for global goals over the next 15 years. Their goals led me to reflect on the progress we are making and the work yet to be done.
As the new year begins, for whatever reason, countless teachers have been jumping on the #oneword bandwagon - in fact, it was the topic of a #satchatwc conversation just this morning. Actually, it was also the original topic for this post, until I saw my friend Rusul Alrubail write, “I don't have a #oneword this year. What shall a girl do?” and I quickly decided (resolved, if you will) to reorganize.
As it turned out, Alaine Jolicoeur, our French teacher-intern, and I wanted to attend the exact same sessions at Saturday’s GLSEN-Massachusetts conference and, as it turned out, we both had good instincts as that made for just about the perfect flow for the day. It began with keynote speeches focusing on affirming the wonderful spectrum of people attending as well as the inclusive theme “both/and,” moving on to a morning session dominated by trans and non-binary kids telling their stories and sharing methods of self-care, lunch, a session on intersectionality with a mix of kids and adults, a session attended entirely by educators on supporting K-8 kids, and finally a closing moment written and performed by those attending Trenda Loftin’s final workshop session.