Radicalized by constant injustice

We are the people who must act now. We are the people who must make the invisible, pervasive systems of injustice transparent. We need to shine our collective light on what’s wrong and what’s been happening while also offering new ways to exist.

We are the people who must act now. We are the people who must make the invisible, pervasive systems of injustice transparent. We need to shine our collective light on what’s wrong and what’s been happening while also offering new ways to exist. We will do this through the collective action of our rising voices everywhere that they need to be heard. We need to recognize that the system is not broken. The United States of America is founded on ideals that degraded non-white people into non-human beings. The United States of American is founded on ideals that marginalized women and minimized their contributions. The United States of America is founded on ideals that turns  people into commodities. The United States of America is founded on the blood-soaked ground of millions of native people.

Those of us with privilege must listen and stand alongside the voices of the unheard. We need to recognize that we do not have the same life experience, but we can push to change that. All human lives should matter but, to paraphrase Animal Farm, some human lives matter more than others in our current state. To truly make all human lives matter we need more than body cameras on all police. We need more than the empty promises of politicians. We need to shape a new culture that recognizes the inherent worth of all human beings. To do this we will need to shed our values of humans as commodities.

The time to act is now. A graphic of Cornel West stating "Justice is what love looks like in public."We need to know what we want, take action to get it, and reflect on if it’s going the way we planned and including the voices of everyone. We’ve seen killers walk free after trials. We’ve seen killers walk free before even facing a trial. We’ve watched a father be murdered by illegal restraint on video. We’ve watched a 12 year old boy get shot before getting a chance to surrender. We’ve seen the injustice come to life in front of us in ways that wasn’t possible before now. This brutality isn’t new but we’re just now seeing it. It’s just now coming to our consciousness. We should be pissed because it’s happening and because we haven’t known before now.

We need to understand that this is not as simple as doing some trainings or watching a buzzfeed video about microaggressions. We’ve been shown the depth of the injustice. It runs deep and throughout our history. It’s not just on the individual levels but infused into our institutions and governments. It dictates every level of our cultures down to the most minute detail. Nearly everything we do or participate in is founded upon injustice. So those of us who have been privileged in our lives regardless of the reason have a responsibility. We have to listen. We have to notice. We have to speak. We have to stand together because we have to recognize the change that is necessary.

In the wake of the senseless deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Rumain Brisbon (and many, many others) we can begin to see and that sight of constant injustice radicalized us. We know that we must grasp at the root of the problem and we know that’s not easy. We must stand in solidarity with each other to support the movement toward justice. We must all grasp at the root together in order to truly create the beloved community that we all deserve.

Social Justice Educator

I strive to be a social justice educator. This means that I try Three arrows combine to make a circle. Theory, action, reflection all rotate around the work praxis.not to order students or participants to find a singular way to being critically conscious. The paths to critical consciousness are varied and I have to help people find their own way. This means that I do not assume that I know more. This means that I’m human and I’ll make mistakes and learn from them. This means that I work with participants to try to guide the way. It means we’re constantly and purposefully learning, acting, and reflecting together.

It means that I walk with them on their path to critical consciousness. It’s not an easy path. There are pitfalls. There are dangerous twists and turns that can lead one back into status quo thinking. I’ve seen students become confronted with new concepts of what it means for them to white. They are confronted by their privilege and what it means to the experience of their peers. I’ve seen students find ways to embrace this concept and begin to work against privilege and I’ve seen students turn away from furthering their understanding because there is a huge fear of what it means to accept the reality of privilege. The students know it would change how they interact with the people around them. It would change most students’ worldview and how they interpret the media, conversations, and the language that people use. It’s scary, but that’s why we exist.

Being a social justice educator means helping anyone work through that cognitive dissonance where what they’ve always known is challenged by the evidence in front of them. I have to shed the inherent power dynamic that is present between educators and students/participants. I have to recognize that I don’t know everyone’s experience despite the assumptions I have and biases I might carry, because I am not free from the biases that I have been trained to have. This power dynamic can sometimes make me feel like I should know more than my participants or that I should be able to answer all of their questions, but vulnerable honesty can be more powerful than giving someone a script or recipe to follow.

I pay attention to what is happening around me and attempt to highlight the underlying systems that create consistent injustices in the world. I create space to share rage, frustration, and sadness at the things that happen that we have no control over. I make myself vulnerable to expose how I’ve benefited from systemic oppression or how I’ve perpetuated it. Because understanding the benefits I’ve received and ways in which I unconsciously perpetuate systemic oppression gives me the tools to fight against it. I also hope that it gives others the courage to start their own self-critique of their histories so they can develop the tools to fight against the ways that they perpetuate oppression.

This work isn’t easy. It’s tiring. It can seem lonely. But with a community of folks who are working toward the same goal this work can be uplifting and rewarding. And it’s easier for me to do this work than to ignore what’s happening around me. I do this work because the weight of willful ignorance on my conscious would be unspeakably heavy.

The paths to burnout

I’ve had a relatively short career in student affairs but over the course of my 3+ years post masters degree, I have seen (including myself) a couple dozen new professionals accept positions directly out of graduate school and the results haven’t always been awesome. With that in mind, I’ve thought of a few examples of things that I’ve seen or felt take a toll on myself and my peers.

I’ve had a relatively short career in student affairs but over the course of my 3+ years post masters degree, I have seen (including myself) a couple dozen new professionals accept positions directly out of graduate school and the results haven’t always been awesome. With that in mind, I’ve thought of a few examples of things that I’ve seen or felt take a toll on myself and my peers.

Taking everything too seriously

In student affairs, we sometimes get stuck dwelling on the very A grumpy looking catserious situations that we work with. These incidents or interventions can stick with us for a long time. We tend to focus on these draining experiences rather than the inspiring or uplifting interactions with have with students who are engaging with their community in a positive manner or advocating for a change in policy or creating a new program/initiative that is going to make a difference. With that in mind, we have to know when to have fun. We play an important role at the university but that doesn’t mean that we have to be stuffy all the time. If you’re stuck in the serious and negative all the time you’re going to reach your limit more quickly and then you won’t be able to assist students and do the important stuff when it’s called for.

Not taking time away

Vacation days are time when your job is paying you not to work. Use them. Sick days are also for us to actually be sick and recuperate. Limiting your life to your job can be seriously detrimental to your health and prevents you from being the holistic person that we help our students strive to be. I’m not even asking you to take a week-long vacation but find some hobbies, make friends, and get away from campus to recharge. Explore your town, I’m willing to bet that there is something there for you to engage with.

Making unilateral decisions

People don’t like change. That includes our A heterosexual white couple sit on a couch. The man says to the woman, students and peers when we move into new positions. Little changes to routines for our students can be difficult to grasp. We need to make sure the decisions we make take into account the audience that the decision will impact. This usually results from not learning the culture around you and how to exist within that. Learn the students and what they need from you. Make decisions that are going to help you all succeed and accomplish your shared goals (that should also be developed within the context of your university and department values and vision)

Ignoring your successes

We all make mistakes and one of them is ignoring when we do something well and staying stuck in the mistakes. Supervisors are going to define success how they want to but you also need to establish your own vision for success so that you can meet your own goals. Be realistic but also find ways to push yourself. Also think outside of your position (check with your supervisor first though!)… One of my goals one year was to get trained to facilitate a diversity and inclusion workshop that is hosted in our Multicultural Education office and use that as a platform to connect with students outside of my residence hall. One way to continue this work is to write down three things that you’re grateful for or that you did well each day. This simple gratitude practice can help you focus on what success is at hand.

Ignoring your passions

You may find your position limiting in terms of working with your passions outside of your day-to-day work. Ignoring them and not connecting with them are going to wear you down and demotivate you. One of my passions is social justice education and college access and I’ve been very fortunate in working at a university in which these ideas can come together in a summer bridge program for 1st generation college students. I’ve also created programs focused on social justice education that give space for us to learn from each other. I’ve made space for the things that I care about to be present in my daily work even though it’s not in my title. Find ways to make that work for you.

Avoiding reflection

A huge part of our lives is making meaning of A moleskine journal and penwhat’s happening in front of and around us. If we don’t take time to reflect on what we’ve been doing then we aren’t able to adjust to do things better in the future. Reflection should be a huge part of any professional’s work flow, but I think it’s especially critical to entry-level professionals because you’re establishing your career. Learning from what’s happening around you (both positive and negative) can be better professional development than  attending conferences. Set a reminder to reflect regularly whether it’s daily or weekly or monthly. Think about what you’ve done and what was great and what you can do better for next time.

Not having a mentor

Mentors are so critical! They hold us accountable to what we want to accomplish and the professional (or even person) that we want to become. Find someone you look up to who you trust and talk to them about being their mentee. Talk to them about what your goals are in your position and where you want to go in your career. They can also talk through how their career started out


There a lots of ways to make these things happen and this is obviously not an exhaustive list. Consider what’s going to work for you. Think about setting up regular practices such as journal writing in reflection. Meditation can also be a day changer (it has been for me) and there are lots of apps available for smart phones that help guide you through meditations (my favorite is Stop, Breathe, Think). Another app that I’ve used recently is Lift. It’s a coaching app that helps establish new habits. Whatever you do reflect on how you’re feeling at work and what you can do to take care of yourself.

Reaching Men for Social Change

Over the course of the last two years I have been facilitating a workshop about how patriarchy negatively harms men. The workshop is facilitated through a feminist lens and asks participants to list the characteristics that make up what it means to be a man or the “rules” they know that men receive. We then frame the conversation of these rules in the influence of patriarchy and how these rules harm men and put men in a position to continue to do harm to themselves and those around them.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive from the students who have attended the workshop and has inspired me to look beyond just this workshop to how I can have a larger impact on my campus community with changing the harmful, outdated model of patriarchal masculinity to something that does not oppress women and gender non-conforming folks. bell hooks put forth a concept of feminist masculinity that I highlight in my workshop. She specifically highlights the concept of consistent self-critique of actions and behaviors. Which made me think about the lack of a space for that to happen with men.

I know that there are many spaces that are designated (or feel) they are only for men, but those spaces generally do not engage men to think about what the impact is that they’re having within society. The space doesn’t ask them to think critically about their internalized expectations of manhood that they’re learned throughout their lifetime through explicit and implicit messages from the world around them. There is no challenge. And because there is no challenge to that systemic message, the space implicitly encourages a world where “boys will be boys”.

What would an organization look like that supports men critically challenging the patriarchal masculinity that they’ve been trained to follow? There are lots of models out there. The Oakland Men’s Project is one example. There is also a student group at University of California that meets to challenge patriarchal notions. I’ve also seen organizations on college campuses such as Men Against Rape and Men Advocating Responsible Conduct. And then there are research studies, books, and articles that could inspire something when combined all together.

But I know that I believe the following and we need to address it:

Male supremacy negatively impacts how I communicate with my partners, friends, and comrades. It negatively impacts how I want, express, conceptualize, and make love. It negatively impacts how I live my life and how I organize. Male supremacy hurts men’s relationships to themselves, to women and people of other genders, and to the earth. It has shaped out emotional lives so as to effectively advance a violent, militaristic, misogynistic, anti-queer, brutally competitive economic system. I am enraged by the resulting damage I see in men’s lives all around me.

Chris Crass – Toward Collective Liberation

I know that there are a lot of different ways to attempt to mentor young men. It’s important to me that I start contributing in some way so I’ll be looking for ways to engage men in having a challenging conversation or pointing to resources. What ways have you engaged men in speaking about social justice? Particularly in their role in contributing and/or challenging patriarchal masculinity.

How does identity influence leadership?

We know that the traditional vision of leadership is broken (and we know that this isn’t an original idea) because it does not recognize the cultural implications of leadership. We thought of leadership as someone who was giving orders. This was someone who had a unilateral vision of what needed to be accomplished and gave orders for how things should be done. Leaders were generals, kings, CEOs. Leaders were somehow appointed by a higher power (not necessarily a spiritual power). We knew that we had to listen to these people because that’s the way it was. We had to assume that they knew best.

Due to structural power systems, the people who generally held (or hold) these positions are rich white men. This is due to the collusion of the US white supremacist, capitalist, imperialist, patriarchal forces. When hiring for a position we are usually focused on the experiences of the candidate from previous positions and we frequently forget the uneven distribution of experience that favors some over others. Which means that some people are habitually left out of new opportunities because they haven’t been given a chance in the past so they can’t get one in the present either.

The Social Change Model of Leadership Development (SCM) (which borrows a lot of ideas from cultures outside of the white male hegemony) recognized some of the issues that preceded it and was a way that higher education researchers responded to the singular leader idea. That helped continue to push student affairs educators to recognize that leadership is interdependent and that leadership can come from groups. We started to recognize that we need to be able to disagree in a manner that moves the group/movement/idea forward. This borrows some of the concepts from Anarchist politics and consensus building which is not a frame of mind that many within the US have which is due to our majority rules mindset. Bringing everything to a vote and having a majority rule on everything can be a major hindrance to progress within a group.

But even so we can come to consensus and make decisions as a group that ignores the realities of the white supremacist, capitalist, imperialist patriarchy. (The Supreme Court has been doing this recently). We need to ensure that we recognize the privileges and power that we hold that stems from our social identities that we frequently do not choose. I did not opt-in to White Privilege but I can choose to be conscious of it and opt-out through continuous action and critical reflection.

I was asked recently by a colleague what the next “big thing” in leadership education (on college campuses) is going to be and I think it’s going to be related to helping our students understand what the cultural impact that their identities have on their leadership qualities and skills because it matters. How you grew up influences how you see the world which has a could have a huge impact on how you work with a group and what you do with your skills in the workplace. While I mentioned the SCM, I think it’s important that we use that simply as a framework. We can help our students and ourselves develop our own understandings of our identities within the context of our society. We need to be open about what it means to be a member of a dominant group and what it means to be in an oppressed group. We need to explore privilege and advantages and how we benefit from them over those who don’t receive them. It’s critical that we start having this conversation to create a society where we can all be at decision making tables rather than how things are going now.

Positive Power Dynamics

“Time and again, despite differences in the context of the relationships, students characterized their worst relationships as unequal and unfair. These types of relationships made people feel diminished, inferior, weak, and violated.” (Goodman, 2000, p. 197)

It’s not at all surprising to me that people describe the worst relationships that they’ve had as being one-sided or feeling inferior to another person. This makes total sense to me. Being taken advantage of in a relationship (whether romantic, work, friendship, etc.) would sour that entire experience. Feeling that one person is more invested in extracting some kind of advantage from you kills any kind of trust. All of this seems obvious, but how does it influence relationships with students. How do student affairs educators reinforce these dynamics with ourselves and with our students? Leadership can sometimes be thought of as “taking control” and that could reflect these issues:

“a) use intimidation, domination, and manipulation to maintain an unequal, unjust relationship and to resolve conflicts; b) concert differences into right and wong, good and bad, better and worse; c) make one person feel more competence and complete and the other feel more incompetent and incomplete; d) generate what Abraham Maslow (1968) calls “deficit motivations” for the subordinate parties (such as fear, insecurity, shame, distrust of self, and mistrust of others) and the dominant parties (such as selfishness, intolerance, anger, arrogance); e) draw on the widespread cultural belief that supports dominance.” (Kogel, 1998, p. 29)

These can negatively influence any one. It can pop up between peers within student affairs and make someone feel that they want to leave the institution or even the field. It can happen between students and student affairs educators to make students feel that they aren’t valued. It can happen between students within the context of a leadership position or organization. The opportunities for this negative dynamic to be repeated on a college campus is innumerable (as it is in the world outside of higher education). But what do we do to interrupt it? How can we facilitate positive power dynamics? How can we value “power-with” relationships and disrupt “power-over” relationships? Kogel describes these “power-with” with the following characteristics:

“a) work to promote relational mutuality and to reduce inequality within the relationship; b) value the process of meeting the needs and enhancing the growth of each other; c) strive to maximize productive conflict, to minimize destructive conflict, and to honor differences within the relationship; d) engage in mutual caring, responsibility, and respect; e) cultivate empathy, compassion, understanding; and f) reflect and established cultural belief that support partnership.” (Kogel, 1998, p. 30)

This is clearly the preferred dynamic for ourselves and our students, but how do we encourage this instead of the philosophy around domination? I think it’s in the same way that you create a culture in your department. It begins with the statement of your philosophy (this frequently comes through in mission/vision/goals) and is backed up by the initiatives and actions that you take and your department takes. For example, as an individual educator, I would encourage this partnership culture through working with my students and asking what they need from me. This doesn’t mean that I’m complacent and sitting back to wait for them to come to me, but it means that I do not need to establish any authority over them. This means that when I’m working with my peers I strive to address conflict in a positive manner that is an actual discussion. This means that when I’m in a “power-over” situation, I change my approach to demonstrate that I’m here to develop a caring and supportive partnership with students rather than telling them what to do. This shift means thinking less paternalistically about what I “know” to be good for them and accept their wisdom as well. This means that I engage in “power-with” relationships with those around me which emphasizes “interdependence and developing the capacity to act and do together.” (Goodman, 2000, p. 193) I think this is a much better model for the stated values of community for which most universities strive.

Obviously this isn’t perfect and I’m not either. The first dynamic I mentioned is the preferred method of business in the US and it takes work to change approaches to interacting with people. But first you have to acknowledge what’s wrong before you can fix it and I think changing my understanding and approach slowly is going to make me a more effective educator and support for my students.

Mindfulness and Social Justice part 2

I started writing about mindfulness in the context of social justice work back in February and thought that it would make a good series as there is always more to learn in both social justice and in mindfulness because there is so much personal work (self-discovery, whatever you would like to call it) to do. This post is a continuation of that irregular series, but focusing a little more on background of why I had the thought to link them and some resources I’ve found since thinking of the idea.

Mindfulness and meditation are becoming more visible in the mainstream eye (see Time Magazine and the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks). Both of these linked articles reference the power of being present and the Seahawks leveraged that concept and applied it to focusing in football. I’ve been working on growing in this area through a regular yoga practice and through regular meditation (that’s been more irregular recently) and one day as I was reading An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life by the Dalai Lama I realized how interconnected my work to deepen my understanding of mindfulness is to my work as a social justice educator and I began to see connections as I continued to read books about both mindfulness and about social justice. This really opened up some new pathways for me that helped me become a more effective educator.

I started to think about the ways in which I try to sit back and listen to others when having a dialogue about social injustice. I actively listen and try to understand, as best I can with my combination of social identities,other perspectives and other experiences. I pay attention to how I’m feeling and try my best not to let those emotions steer my contributions to conversations. I pay attention to the emotion in others and make attempts to be supportive. I pay attention to how much space I take up in the conversation. Mindfulness helps me do all of this critically because I’m paying attention to what’s happening around me. I’m absorbing it to understand the dynamics of the room. (I’ll also say that I did some of this prior to my attempts to be more mindful because I’m an introvert).

I’m currently reading Diane Goodman’s Promoting Diversity and Social Justice (I’m reading the first edition. A second one was published in 2011) and chapter 9 is focused on “Issues for Educators.” Goodman writes about increasing educational effectiveness part of which is doing our own personal work to fully understand our own backgrounds and where we are in understanding our identities. It means working through the issues that may get us caught up in responding to an unruly participant rather than focusing on educating/training the whole room. Goodman writes about using mindfulness as a strategy to avoid some of these common issues. “In situations in which we feel we are not being conscious or are immersed in negative reactions, it can help us return to a more centered way of being and depend our understanding of what is really going on” (Goodman, 2000, p. 183). By using mindfulness, Goodman argues that we become more effective educators. We can more holistically recognize what’s happening within ourselves to develop a better approach to the training/workshop. We can also be more effective in listening to others’ perspectives and understand what kind of support that someone may need. We can aptly discern the vibe of a room from a negative or resistant vibe to one of true curiosity. These are all huge in helping us move ourselves and our participants/students forward with the difficult concepts and conversations that comes with social justice.

Goodman, D. (2000) Promoting diversity and social justice: Educating people from privileged groups.  Sage Publications. Thousand Oaks, CA.

A False Sense of Individualism

I accept oppression and privilege stemming from white supremacist, capitalist, imperialist patriarchy societal pressures which means that there are invisible, unearned advantages that are bestowed upon people. These privileges are a silent form of collectivism. I have seen this to be one of the reasons people have a difficult time accepting that privilege exists. I have spoken with a few people over the last couple of years that seem to seize up when we start talking about privilege. My interpretation is that the concept of privilege is contrary to what we’ve always believed about our accomplishments. We need to believe that everything that we have accomplished has been from our own efforts and not helped by anything else. That’s what those of privilege have been told and that’s what it feels like when anyone accomplishes something.

After all, that’s part of the fabled American dream. The story goes that somebody starts from very little pulls themselves up into relevance and money. We don’t allow space in that narrative to hear about how that person was helped get to where they are. We don’t leave space for understanding how they are a part of something larger and while their individual efforts got them somewhere, it’s not everything. We don’t leave space in the story to explore how hard work isn’t everything and that there are millions of narratives of people who worked just as hard and did not see a change in their “status.”

Privilege bestows upon those who have it an unearned, unasked for, and invisible advantage of social capital. Social capital means connections. It means you have people who can do favors for you. And privilege watches out for its own. White people inadvertently believe other white people. Men believe other men. Those who are wealthy believe other wealthy people. (This is more complex than what I’m including here. Conferred dominance is a huge part of privilege and that goes beyond people with privilege believing other people of privilege.) And this also means the inverse is true. Generally, people with privilege aren’t going to hear what someone from a minoritized identity has to say or instead of listening intently they are thinking about how the story can’t be fully true.

The reality that this leads to is an invisible network of people who provide each other with some help that seems minimal but pushes some people to success. Which means that not all of our accomplishments are our own. We have to be able to understand that and move forward in order to continue to work toward social justice in our world. I recognize that accepting this is difficult (I’ve had my own journey with it). This is why I work with social justice education the way that I do. I want to be able to meet my students in their privilege and help them understand how some seemly innocent advantages can be harmful to everyone on a interpersonal level and systemic level.

Not Just Florida

I wrote a post about my home state a few days ago. I’m angry about Dunn and Zimmerman not being punished for the murders they have committed. I’m still angry about it and much of my focus and the focus of people around the country are on Florida. This is understandable. Let’s hold that focus and harness that anger to create change in Florida and while we’re doing that let’s ensure that we’re not losing sight of the fact that this is not solely a Florida problem…

This problem of racism is bigger than that. It’s systemic. It’s in the air we breathe. It’s in the lessons we learned in school. It’s in the history books. It’s spoken into being by our teachers, friends, parents, and family. It’s represented in the media we consume. There is no way to totally escape these realities of life in the U.S. We can become aware of them and bolster our critical consciousness. We can spread consciousness to others. We can challenge and we can push. Even with all of that challenge, growth, and education we will still make mistakes due to the socialization we have absorbed.

Yes, Florida needs to address it’s many problems with race, but all of us need to address racism across the country. Renisha McBride wasn’t killed in Florida. Jonathan Ferrell wasn’t killed in Florida. Jesus Huerta wasn’t killed in Florida. We need to see that our lives are interconnected and that our liberation from these problems is interdependent with one another. We need to find the organizations that are creating change and pushing the status quo.

Race ForwardDream Defenders, Color of Change are just three that I can think of right now. (There is also a petition from Race Forward that is directed to the Florida Prosecutor Angela Corey to address racial bias in the court system) There are many more. Connect with organizations. Volunteer. Stand up. Speak out. Build coalitions to create change. Work to understand the realities of the culture that we live in. When we start this process, we can continue to make a difference. Make the culture feel the “stubborn ounces of our weight.” None of us can do everything, but we can all do something. Sometimes our work can feel like nothing. It can feel like we’re going nowhere and that’s when I look to the poem by Bonaro Overstreet. We can’t do everything, but we need to throw the stubborn ounces of our weight into something because our liberation is interconnected and interdependent.

Mindfulness and Social Justice

I was recently reading Savor and the authors, Thich Nhat Hahn and Lillian Cheung, use the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism to relate to obesity and overeating and this led me to start thinking about how the Four Noble Truths apply to Social Justice Education. But first, a foundation…

The First Noble Truth is that all of us have suffering in our lives. None of us can escape from it. The Second Noble Truth is that we can identify the causes of our suffering. The Third Noble Truth is that we can put an end to our suffering and that healing is possible. Finally, the Fourth Noble Truth is that there are paths to free us from suffering. (Cheung & Hanh, 2010)

I believe these truths to be entirely accurate. Suffering can come in all shapes and sizes and does not have to relate to oppression, but if we use the Buddhist concept of suffering and apply it to oppression I think we learn can about how to put things into perspective. Privilege and oppression is a reality and we can’t escape it. Everyone is targeted by these systems. Certain people are provided with privilege. Others are provided with disadvantages or oppressed. If we accept that this is true then we can move along to begin to address it.

Once oppression and privilege are accepted as facts then we can begin to recognize the causes. In a US context, we live in a white supremacist, capitalist, imperialist patriarchy. All of these concepts interact and produce additional issues. For instance, some by-products of patriarchy are heterosexism (which then produces homophobia) and sexism (which then produces gender roles, misogyny, and male privilege). These causes are deeply embedded in our culture. It is difficult to conceptualize but we need to acknowledge that we can heal through critical consciousness and action. I think a lot of self work has to be done to recognize healing and it’s never done. I won’t ever be done trying to heal, but I can find ways to increase my healing by engaging with others and opening their eyes. I think this promotes self-healing and a way to heal for others.

These few thoughts came to me while reading I was Savor, but I know there are more ways to connect mindfulness and social justice work. There are more examples to highlight. We can look at divesting privilege through this lens. We can analyze internalized oppression through this lens. We can recognize interpersonal oppression as well as the more insidious systemic forms that produce the intra and interpersonal.

This post does not include the critical concepts such as being present in the moment and recognizing our emotions in a dialogue, the space we take up in conversation, or how we may be triggered by something we’ve just read or heard or experienced. These will probably be future topics in a series of posts on mindfulness and social justice education. I also recognize that there likely is work out there that has already been done combining these topics, but this will be about my own personal journey in understanding and recognizing how mindfulness and social justice overlaps.

Hanh, Thich Nhat; Cheung, Lilian (2010-02-20). Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life (Kindle Locations 257-259). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.