who is representation and diversity for?

Hatfield examines and criticizes the ways in which archival institutions and systems ritually exclude transgender voices, even in LGBTQ spheres. Hatfield attributes this to the lack of transgender input that archival institutions often disregard. In order to responsibly represent a large community of people, Hatfield suggests that a member of said marginalized community is the one that creates the media and information that is exported. Looking at webcomics as a medium that engages participatory and convergence culture, Hatfield suggests that archival and library communities should engage in similar ways that center marginalized voices. I see this need for representation in many areas of my life.

I attended a Students of Color Conference at Gonzaga University, for example, where I heard a woman present on “Decolonizing Your Syllabus.” Decolonize Your Syllabus is a movement that was started by Dr. Yvette de Chavez, a professor of American Literature at the University of Texas, Austin. When teaching Introduction to American literature, De Chavez created a syllabus entirely highlighting black, indigenous, and people of color voices. She was told that she needed to “diversify” her syllabus with white writers, the true American authors. De Chavez and other professors joining her movement understand that there is a greater need to not only diversify our syllabi, but decolonize it. Diversification is simply adding in marginalized voices as alternative view-points to a dominant ideology. Decolonization is when we begin to use BIPOC (black, indigenous, POC) scholarship as the lenses in which to read the world through. This adopts their language and viewpoints as valid and important within academic discourse. Programs like Encounters seek to only showcase BIPOC authors as texts to address a checkbox of racism and sexism, through texts like Souls of Black Folk and The Second Sex. They do not use their thinking to analyze the Whitman bubble or the larger global community. What kind of first year experience is Encounters trying to provide? These texts and their lose interpretations that are entertained in classes are simply used as checkboxes that Whitman can use to say that all students engage with global issues, to comprise a liberal arts education.

Sad.

I must push further to question, when we center marginalized voices in these spaces, in the name of education, who is the group in question? Although I understand that education is the first step to engaging with issues of social justice, we must question who the burden of education is on. I felt as if the need for dominant groups to educate themselves without looking to marginalized peoples to teach them was missing. There seems to be a lack of accountability on the end of individuals to educate themselves. If I’ve learned something at Whitman, it’s that my learning here didn’t come from the institution; my learning came from finding ways to deal with this institution. Whitman won’t be the ones to teach you how to be “woke” or socially engaged. It is a personal responsibility that we all have to work towards collective liberation. When one in our global community is harmed, we all are.

 

my fav comic from Alyssa: https://www.autostraddle.com/oh-hey-its-alyssa-53-accommodations-428670/

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