sisters of resistance

anti-imperialist pro-vegan radical queer feminist hip-hop & grime revolutionaries.

Is Decolonizing the New Black? — July 12, 2018

Is Decolonizing the New Black?

We begin this critique by invoking our foremothers: Audre Lorde, bell hooks, June Jordan, Angela Davis, Maya Angelou, Frida Kahlo, Yayoi Kusama, Jayaben Desai, Hortense Spillers, Gloria Anzaldua, Grace Lee Boggs, Gabriela Silang, and our grandmothers. We recognise and consciously continue their tradition of resisting colonising forces and speaking truth to power from the margins, and doing so, as they did, from a perspective of fullness and abundance rather than scarcity and lack. Their work laid the foundation for the radical intersectional politics that informs the powerful and formidable anti-oppression activist movements of our day, and  shapes our enquiries and analysis here. In this vein, we wish to pose a question that, while painful in its vulnerability, is necessary in order to preserve the revolutionary aims at the heart of the decolonising movement, at a time when its radical politics are both under attack and gaining legitimacy: Is Decolonising the new black?

Within UK Higher Education, the call to decolonise, alongside other agendas that seek to address inequalities (e.g. Athena Swan and the Race Equality Charter Mark), is becoming a familiar demand heard by institutional actors.While Charter Marks serve Universities as mechanisms for gaining access to funding, we interrogate the acceptability of decolonising rhetoric as a sign that is it becoming co-opted by capital. Decolonising has entered consumers’ imaginations, and with it, a new kind of consumer has emerged: one that is politically astute and critical of Whiteness, but also firmly entrenched in conservative market forces that reproduce value through competitive means. In parallel, the ever increasingly marketised realm of British Academia is discovering (many would say in painful ways) that it is no different to consumer markets.

Whereas newer ranking systems such as the Teaching Excellence Framework have recently commoditized learning, the Research Excellence Framework has been creating competitive markets in academia for over a decade. The now acceptable notion of REFability points to the normalised attribution of financial value to knowledge, and its subsequent outcomes: job security, opportunities for promotion and mobility to other institutions. As a result, the motivation of publishers and authors has become mediated by the production of market value while the ancient University sector’s elitist, male, white, straight networks of power are reproduced. In this configuration, the possibility for political action through academic work has been muzzled; in a sector where one is no longer asked to publish or perish, but to publish in 4* academic journals or perish, other kinds of knowledge work recede due to their lack of marketable value (niche research is not the same as unmarketable research).

The financial and White structures that permeate British academic publishing should make us suspicious. Whiteness pervades and structures the socio-political context within which Universities operate and does so by articulating, promoting and sustaining practices that privilege neoliberal dynamics of exclusion and inclusion. In this respect, we should be especially vigilant when a journal title, academic conference or publisher associates a paper, sub-stream or book with the words ‘Decolonizing’ or ‘Black’ in their title with delivering some kind of value-added. This is not only concerning because of the mainstreaming and normalisation of oppression it suggests, but also because we are aware of how hard it is to do the work whilst fighting forces that continually pull towards assimilation into White capitalist structures of power, privilege and patronage. Here, we must state that we are not against decolonising work being embraced and used to overturn structures of power, nor are we against decolonising academics being valued and promoted. We are, however, critical of the accelerated circulation and consumption of decolonising within an archaic and elitist institution.

In asking whether decolonising is the new black, we mean: is decolonising becoming familiar to power structures in ways that its consumption, circulation and reproduction in the academy is diluting its radical politics? We question whether the rapid uptake of decolonising as the new buzzword of critique has become a new form of academic production that adds value to one’s reputation as a critical scholar while also opening a pathway to profit through making the histories, bodies, and experiences of Black people and people of colour consumable and marketable, transforming them into a viable subject for the entrepreneurial academic agenda. We identify a new form of appropriation, where it seems that decolonising is becoming factionalised along a political spectrum so that only parts of it are easily absorbed by Universities (and the people who govern them). This in turn supports the legitimation of HEIs as inclusive spaces without demanding that they engage in the painful process of self-accountability.

We welcome critique that leads to talking openly about and taking action against racism, imperialist ideologies, and colonial violence. However, when this critique is primarily rhetorical, and the accounts and histories of Blackness and its systematic structural oppression are denied presence and scrutiny in institutional narratives, as well as in everyday engagements between White management and academics and students of colour; then the critique is false, and as such must be called out and challenged.

We recognise false critiques all around us, which seem to emerge in the form of new practices and strategies of appropriation. These practices and strategies see the jubilant uplift of the privileged in taking elements of the Other away from the Other, re-configuring them in ways that no longer allow the Other to experience them as benefits, whilst simultaneously creating a branded image of ‘the oppressed’ that erases the possibilities for a resistant subjectivity. This process is one of recolonising in classical capitalist colonial form: Othering and claiming that which is the Other, seeking to assimilate it, exploiting and profiting from it all the while.

In other ways, this configuration materialises in the consumption of Blackness that simultaneously silences critiques of Whiteness. For example, we notice how when writing about people, dynamics and experiences in/of the Global South, White decolonial scholars have failed to reflect on their own privilege in and power over knowledge production. Whiteness thus remains the transparent structure that needs no naming, and with which critical engagement is impossible. When these issues are raised and addressed, whether in critical firsthand accounts of marginality, isolation and racist oppression or theorised in rigorous scholarly ways, they are often responded to with either hand-wringing and pearl-clutching by well-meaning White folks, or anger, aggression and victim-blaming by others. In this way, White fragility and anger are used as material strategies to diffuse responsibility in the articulation and perpetuation of dominant structures of oppression (i.e. if I didn’t care, this wouldn’t affect me so deeply). As a consequence, oppressive practices are rendered as isolated, individualised incidents, not taken for the structural issues manifesting in everyday occurrences and microaggressions that they are.

Given the political nature of academic production, we must also ask: who is doing this work, and for what reasons? As we noted, a number of White scholars are using decolonizing frameworks in their work without interrogating their own Whiteness/White-passing and their complicity in upholding White structures. In tandem, we note the consistency of this type of superficial engagement, and the surprising rate at which decolonizing work is being produced and circulated. The increasing use of the term alongside a lack of self-accountability potentially undermines the more radical politics of doing the work, in which the worker makes themselves vulnerable in situations where they encounter resistance. This is inherent to the experiences of those who engage in practices to dismantle power structures, but it is not evident in the way White scholars produce great value from adopting the term.

Further, it appears that academics with little evidence of anti-racist politics in previous scholarship and practice are emerging as leaders in these debates. This move should not only be questioned in terms of how it is impacting their positionality in their own institutions and amongst ‘critical’ scholarship communities, but also more fundamentally, in terms of the effects they seek (or do not seek) to bring about through their work. If the work they circulate is producing value for them in ways that multiply their privilege in the system, then it cannot be so easily claimed that their work is overturning the power structures within which it is being produced. Decolonising is radical because it identifies the current structures as inherently violent towards people of colour. Producing value in this system therefore strengthens it rather than dismantles it.

However, these discussions should not be seen as emerging exclusively from the academic domain. This work is facilitated by the present historical context, where there is a global anti-migrant and anti-refugee consensus, a re-emergence of fascism in Europe and the Anglo-American empire, and the overall systematic dumbing down of Western public discourse and popular education. A key feature of the current landscape is a lack of inclusive histories stacked up against the dismantling of democratic political processes in the Global South and the Global North, which has led to citizens being denied structural routes to influence decision-making, hardening their political positions and encouraging polarisation. These developments are not entirely new and have deep historical roots in colonialism and Cold War politics, but are certainly framed as such in the gestured surprise and confusion White Europe and Global North media outlets proclaim. This element of surprise correlates with how decolonising is being framed as a ‘novel’ or ‘new’ critique in academic circles so that it can be attributed some intellectual value (new ideas always get the most ticks and clicks!).

Nevertheless, despite the danger of superficial engagement with decoloniality multiplying, the need, importance and urgency of collective political work that democratises structures and creates inclusive platforms cannot be understated. In that respect, we recognise that opportunities are being created, spaces are being claimed and moments are being seized by different actors, where we see a breach opening up in the power structures of Whiteness, which is being enacted in ways that are politically radical and ethically nuanced. The fresh, radical and militant voices of Black and Brown young people worldwide continuing the unfinished antiracist and decolonising work of the 1960-70s have brought about this historical moment. Global youth of colour are challenging long-standing white supremacist institutions to grapple with their historical legacies of active participation and complicity in oppression. In the UK, student movements like #whyismycurriculumwhite, #whyisntmyprofessorblack and #rhodesmustfall have injected a vitality to Black liberation politics that has not been witnessed in decades in British Universities. Doing decolonising work in this context is powerful and brings a real possibility of becoming collective and transformative.

Decolonising is an incisive methodology countering the hard-right’s myopia, individualization, and competitive obsession. Decolonising work sets out to destabilise epistemic understandings, building consensus among the marginalized about a critical understanding of the White capitalist structures that continually de-value them. As such, its aims are always collective, collaborative and anti-competitive. Thus, the decolonising academic cannot seek to gain legitimacy in existing violent structures; doing so would only serve to reproduce these structures and deliver individual benefits. We argue that rather than measure and value the success of decolonising work through normative means e.g. number of publications, grant money accrued, and conferences attended, academics should measure the effectiveness of the work in its own terms, through serious engagement with the following:

  • Engaging with Whiteness with a sense of responsibility and self-accountability while acknowledging that for centuries people of colour have been denied their role in producing and shaping intellectual ideas and knowledge, even about themselves. One way is reading and citing what people of colour have written, and engaging with their ideas from a perspective that recognises the role of Whiteness in their struggles as well as the role of White complicity in reproducing oppressive structures. Another way is to engage critically with the global reach of Whiteness, making it central to discussions of pedagogy, anti-racism and decolonizing.

  • Re-narrating institutional histories so that narratives of racism and imperialism are not forgotten and are instead used in ongoing work that looks to reform universities, in ways that significantly make them anti-racist, anti-imperialist spaces. It is important to go beyond symbolic efforts that increase the brand value of universities (e.g. celebrating Black History Month) and engage with activities and practices that make universities vulnerable to external and internal critique.

  • Developing, applying and regularly reviewing organizing principles as a way of translating anti-racist and decolonizing ethics into applied and measurable methodologies. For this, it is central to actively work with students and staff of colour to seek to de-centre Whiteness in the curriculum, in classroom dynamics, in supervision relations, in staff promotion policies, in any disciplinary or grievance procedures, in mentoring and support relations, in knowledge production practices, and in administrative practices.

  • Working against intersectional racist structures so young people of colour can step into positions of power. This means addressing elitist, racist and sexist institutional structures and cultures, challenging and training those in power instead of demanding change from the most marginalised, and working to roll back the neoliberal university practices that result in the marketization of knowledge, because of which students of colour and poor students suffer, Black students in particular. Understanding and addressing these racial and class-based disparities is essential to decolonial work.

  • Organising within their own institutions to challenge racist practices and processes, including stepping back and giving up privileges, earned or unearned, as well as not continuing to hurt, violate or reduce the participation of people of colour in institutional spaces and processes (e.g. through admissions policies, IELTS policies, funding support, visa restrictions, and closing the attainment gap). The effectiveness of this organising relies on the involvement and leadership of students and staff of colour, whose voices and perspectives are central to understanding the impact of these processes.

  • Making oneself vulnerable in the act of political struggle with White capitalist patriarchy. Decolonising ethics involve a consistent de-centering of the self as well as encountering Whiteness in structures, arrangements and relationships, where personal desire, intentions and underlying assumptions should be brought under sustained scrutiny. This does not equate to using reflexivity as a way of legitimising what one is involved in and how one thinks about it. Decolonising work is a form of agitation; it is dangerous and powerful. If you are not putting your intentions under scrutiny, on your own and by those deemed Other, then you are not doing the work. If you are not upsetting Whiteness by doing the work, you are not doing the work.

  • Embracing solidarity as a radical act of self-effacement, where the Other determines the strength and quality of a relation. Respecting the autonomy of the Other is fundamental to wrestling with power dynamics that we co-construct when doing research that seeks to produce knowledge about the Other.

We believe that it is by focusing instead on these and similar priorities that genuine decolonising work is done. Anything less is simply recolonising.

This piece is a collaboration among Sisters of Resistance, Left of Brown, and Jenny Rodriguez.

Advertisements
The Post-Strike Landscape — March 7, 2018

The Post-Strike Landscape

A Collaboration with Left of Brown

‘In a world of possibility for us all, our personal visions help lay the groundwork for political action.’  – Audre Lorde

The current industrial pensions dispute taking place in UK higher education has exposed a serious rift in the sector, through which has broken the pent-up frustration and anger of staff and students alike over changes made in the past decade towards the marketized model of higher education. In this piece, we unpack and critique the present conditions which should be reflected in the emergent demands for a post-strike landscape, and put forward our suggestions.

While the union-led rolling strike and concomitant campaign against pension reforms are laudable in their mobilisation of thousands of staff, supported by student activists from across 68 universities, to enact unprecedented industrial action, we argue that they still fall short of their potential to address the wider problems within the sector. Some of these problems, such as the reproduction of intersecting white supremacy, gender bias and class oppression, are historical, normative, and generally unacknowledged. Others, such as the neoliberal ideological framework that enables and encourages the unbridled marketization of all sectors, are given lip service but have not been meaningfully addressed in the ongoing discussion around protecting pensions.

We note that protecting pensions is in itself a neoliberal demand. Neoliberalism reduces society to a conglomerate of agentic individuals competing against each other for scarce resources. It promotes the individual as sacred, and as such, an attack on the individual condition, like the future value of personal pension pots, gives cause for legitimate action. To illustrate, a key tool used to galvanise support for the strike was a spreadsheet circulated in which you could model your future expected pension payouts before and after the proposed reforms, in order to see how much you could be expected to personally lose. Pensions here became signified by a dispute over individual losses, rather than a structural impediment to the sector or assault on a public good. We take issue with this because of the existence of myriad structural conditions that merit collective resistance, and have yet to be addressed by the union or any other representative body.

The present pensions dispute is the result of a historical strategy led by successive governments that have changed the legal framework within which universities operate. The strategy was initiated as a partial marketization (monetizing knowledge through the REF and later commodifying learning via the TEF) to a more explicit assault on gold standard pensions that were the defining marker of public sector workers’ wage structure. According to Mike Otsuka, who has been writing extensively about the dispute, any deficit that may exist is traceable to a ‘pensions contribution holiday’ by employers from 1997-2009.

A marketized education system that has prioritised profit and growth over all else is unjust in many ways: it relies on the casualisation of labour and the precarity of employees, it follows the US model to charge outrageous student fees that produce debilitating debt, and allows the exorbitant remuneration of senior management in universities and USS, the pensions body (482% more in 2017 than 2008). The tools for structuring the HE market include various accreditation and ranking mechanisms such as the REF, TEF and the upcoming KEF (Knowledge Exchange Framework), which are widely acknowledged to be gamified and thus useless as measures of quality or legitimacy.

In the current institutional environment, it is undeniable that structural inequality amongst both staff and students is reproduced and in many cases exacerbated. However, national policy is way behind local initiatives that address intersectional inequality. University management is still overwhelmingly made of white males from the middle and elite classes, while women and people of colour, women of colour in particular, are confined to the lower ranks. To date, in the UK we have not had a single black principal or vice chancellor. According to Black British Academics, of 19,630 professors in the UK, 30 are black women – not even a quarter of one percent (0.15%). These kinds of blatant racial inequalities are commented on in news and media outlets, however, material interventions (such as affirmative action) have not been regarded as a viable approach by British labour jurisdiction. Instead, black mentoring and/or black networking are offered as voluntary initiatives that universities may wish to experiment with. To date, there is no evidence to suggest these initiatives are making any progressive changes to the working conditions of people of colour.

Regarding students, attainment gaps for students of colour and/or working class students are often reframed as issues of aspiration and lack of social capital. This is levelled by the right as well as the left of the political spectrum. Again, political discourse – and policy – reductively attributes a structural issue to the level of the individual, who is now easily blamed for their own supposed deficiencies.

Meanwhile, mechanisms such as the Athena Swan and Race Equality Charters enable the claim that inequality is being sufficiently ‘managed’ so that it no longer poses an issue, which furthers the illusion of a post-race/post-feminist society. Hitting these charter marks is now tied to application for future research funding; thus, the incentive for the mark is itself marketised rather than being motivated by a genuine aim to reduce inequality at that institution. Institutions which undergo these audit exercises can thus cite their participation as ‘evidence’ that a true market solves the problems of social and structural inequality. This fits squarely with the neoliberal belief that the invisible hand of the market works to adjust any disparity within systems.

If it were not already crystal clear it is this model that has been thrust upon us and that is being used to justify the attack on pensions, one need look only at the former asset-fund and corporate mining managers who make up the USS board of trustees to ascertain the modus operandi at work. Perhaps the tendency towards unethical behaviour in their former industries explains the incoherent evaluation of the health of the pensions fund that has been challenged by numerous experts in recent days. Claiming that the fund is in debt when it is not reduces liabilities and assists in the future borrowing which is expected to be the means by which to build shiny new buildings and attract more fee-paying international students.

While the proposals UCU has tabled at Tuesday’s ACAS talks (which were surprisingly brought forward from Wednesday after UUK was directly engaged via Twitter on Monday night) are sensible, there is a general lack of organising to form demands or even a position statement that goes beyond protecting pensions to firmly place the pension fight in the broader context of neoliberalism.

Pensions law specialist Ewan McGaughey takes a useful corporate governance perspective that moves us closer to imagining what a post-strike list of demands might look like, which we have built upon in some of our demands below. However, a significant limitation of this work is its implicit assumption that equitable governance is even possible within the existing framework. Drawing upon the critique offered by Audre Lorde, we are doubtful that the master’s tools can be used to dismantle the master’s house.

Visionary demands that explicitly critique the status quo drive community organising and political movements, and offer a focal point for negotiations as well as a rallying cry for those who support the position of those who are taking action. While the academic evaluations of the health of the fund have doubtlessly uncovered the surreptitious games being played with the sector’s future, we have yet to coalesce on a set of demands that address what we, who risk our reputations, job security (if there is any to be had), financial and mental health by striking and organising others to support the strike, would like to see going forward.

The ability to envisage a better future is integral to any social justice or liberation movement. It is the clarity of this vision that inspires people in their hundreds and their thousands to resist systemic oppression and to create lasting change. To that end, we offer below an initial list of demands suited to the current discussion of debt and value that we believe have the potential to radically alter the direction of travel of our sector. We call for a future that is less profit-driven and more focused on values aligned with institutions of higher education: equity, critical thinking, progress and social transformation, as opposed to simple reproduction.

  1.  Accept and implement UCU proposal. The UCU proposal put forward at ACAS talks on Tuesday 6 March, including the reversal of the J23 changes to the September risk valuation, is accepted and implemented unconditionally.
  1. Disband UUK. Once the J23 changes are reversed, UUK is disbanded based on a vote of no confidence from their member institutions. Current requests to make UUK accountable to public scrutiny via Freedom of Information requests is a misplaced demand. This dispute has unequivocally demonstrated that UUK membership and voting is skewed towards the interests of elitist university managers and that representatives have no amount of accountability to or responsibility towards university workers. Instead we ask for a Workers’ Council to be instituted that is composed of trade unions, non-union workers and elected representatives from every paygrade.
  1. Accountability reform. The way universities, related bodies such as USS, and their leadership are held accountable must be completely reevaluated. Some suggestions to this end include: Each governing body should have a staff and student-elected majority.USS board members with potentially conflicting professional backgrounds should stand down, and the board should be comprised of a majority of staff members through direct election. VCs should not sit on committees that determine their own compensation.
  1. Fees must fall. We do not mean a reduction, we mean an eradication of student fees altogether. Education should be a central part of governmental budgets, funded by taxes. If, across the sector, universities are looking to make savings, VCs should turn their attention to pay ratios and making compensation across an institution more fair. If they work together to do this collectively, there is little risk of any single institution being unable to offer a ‘competitive’ compensation package to their most senior management.
  1. Revalue labour. The way labour at different levels of seniority is valued must be reimagined. Currently, outward-facing labour that promotes institutional reputation (i.e. high-ranking publications) is overvalued, while inward-facing, feminised and pastoral labour (i.e. teaching, administrative work) is undervalued. Yet it is this inward-facing labour upon which the university system runs, and it should be accounted for and valued accordingly.
  1. Address overrepresentation and underrepresentation. We distinguish this from diversity initiatives that use a positivist logic to make a claim of equality based on numbers of black, brown, gendered bodies at boards, panels, professoriate, etc. Instead, attention to over- and underrepresentation would mean addressing institutional inequities, such as the blatant inequalities between groups (UG students, PG students, PhDs, paygrade 1 versus paygrade 8 and beyond) and the numerous ways in which extant hiring promotion, reporting and disciplinary policies have (un)intended consequences of reproducing such differences.
  1. Dismantle white supremacy. Decentering white knowledge and scholarship is necessary for any meaningful reform of the sector. All managerial staff, but particularly white managers, should be trained to acknowledge and counter the subtle and overt racial discrimination that hinder the progress of people of colour within our institutions. While we acknowledge that the work intended by the Athena Swan and Race Equality Charter is needed, we believe that their aims should be written into the charters of all higher education institutions, which should actively encourage the reporting of discrimination and take concrete, measurable steps to address and rectify the issues identified. As Shirley Ann Tate asks, what if tackling racism became part of university performance indicators? That, she states, would be a revolution, because accountability to these indicators would require White Supremacy to acknowledge its own entitlement to the world it has created.
In Solidarity With #ThisTweetCalledMyBack — December 18, 2014

In Solidarity With #ThisTweetCalledMyBack

Last week, a collective of the seven of the most incisive and insightful feminist/womanist social and cultural critics working in contemporary digital media, who are Black Women, AfroIndigenous and women of color, began a social media blackout. Over the past five years, across various social media platforms, they have created what they describe as “an entire framework with which to understand gender violence and racial hierarchy in a global and U.S. context“, one which is deeply analytical and highly critical of mainstream feminism and heteropatriarchy, as well as cishet activist movements. We at Sisters of Resistance have often engaged with, been challenged by, and learned from them and their work.

And yet, as they explain, far from being celebrated and embraced for the enormity of the work and contributions they have made to 4th wave and digital feminism, their body of work has been colonized, plagiarized by mainstream white feminism and mainstream media while they themselves have been vilified, said to constitute ‘Toxic Twitter”, had their livelihoods threatened and their physical and mental welfare put at stake. Rejected, harassed and provoked by people in mainstream media, academia, and the non-profit industrial complex, who at the same time hijack their prolific and movement-inspiring thought and theory, this collective of women is taking a stand against the status quo with this statement and their conspicuous absence from Twitter.

Here are some of the questions that they ask:

In an age where young women often have cell phones with internet access before they have access to healthcare and social services, why are so many so quick to demean the work of digital feminism in the hands of Black women? When depression, anxiety and disability make it so that getting out of bed, much less into the streets, is a debilitating challenge and risk, why do we demean social media and tell people they cant fully engage without taking up physical space? Whose interests are we centering if we constantly hyperfocus on the limits of grassroots social media, instead of the impact and possibilities, while not making the physical spaces safe or accessible for these women?

They point out that an expanded understanding of violence is necessary to address the kinds of issues they and many others like them/us face and experience, even within “leftist” and “activist” circles:

Once we expand our understanding of violence to include plagiarism, harassment, gaslighting, emotional abuse, ableism and exploitation of labor, we find huge fissures in a movement that the women we are prescribing solutions for fall through on a daily basis. We find a replicated system of violence that prioritizes those closer to systemic and hierarchal values of bodies rather than anti-violence.

They challenge those who will listen to consider the following questions, which are incredibly necessary for our time:

“How do we, as a movement, engage unaffiliated women with no institutional covering or backing, on the grassroots level? How do we close ranks around these women in both digital and physical spaces so that they can continue this work? There is a refusal to legitimize the words of women of color without the backing of academia, established media, and non-profit monikers. How do we then legitimize the lens with which marginalized women of color view their lives and the spaces where they are actually allowed to assert their agency?

The collective includes: @tgirlinterruptd, @chiefelk, @bad_dominicana, @aurabogado, @so_treu, @blackamazon, @thetrudz

Those who have signed in solidarity include: @blackgirldanger, @cheuya, @notallthots, @jazzagold, @natashavianna, @mizzblossom, @sarahkendzior, @scATX, @lilybolourian.

At the same time, we wish to call to mind @redlightvoices, who we believe has been very much a part of this same wave of work, and who expressed many of the same sentiments during the time that she was still on Twitter.

We have so much respect for all of these women. We offer them our solidarity and support in their decision to step out of the Twitterverse and assert their humanity in the face of such despicable systemic discrimination and harassment. We stand with you! #ThisTweetCalledMyBack

READ THEIR FULL STATEMENT HERE.

Individual personal statements are also being posted here.

Read more about the groundbreaking work by radical women of color, This Bridge Called My Back, the 1981 anthology, to which the conversation #ThisTweetCalledMyBack refers.

Re-blog: The Trigger Warned Syllabus — March 7, 2014

Re-blog: The Trigger Warned Syllabus

Excellent article by TressieMC on universities co-opting the notion of “trigger warnings” from online culture in order to further advance the goals of the marketized education system and make student-customers more “comfortable” with what they are asked to learn…

tressiemc

Apparently universities are issuing guidelines to help professors consider adding “trigger warnings” to syllabi for “racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression,” and to remove triggering material when it doesn’t “directly” contribute to learning goals.” One example given is Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” for its colonialism trigger. This from New Republic this week.

I have no desire to enter the fray of online discussions on trigger warnings and sensitivity. I have used trigger warnings. Most recently, I made a personal decision to not retweet Dylan Farrow’s piece in the New York Times detailing Woody Allen’s sexual abuse. I was uncomfortable shoving a very powerful description at people without some kind of warning. I couldn’t read past the first three sentences. I couldn’t imagine how it read for others. So, I referenced the article with a trigger warning and kept it moving.

But, I’m…

View original post 469 more words

Malala’s United Nations Speech — August 4, 2013
%d bloggers like this: