Wk 2…heading down the rabbit hole…

With permission, I’m re-blogging an entry from one of my students who is of Abenaki heritage on the class readings for the week. I loved it and hope you do as well!

Decolonizing Alysa

After reading Laenui, I attempted to relate the process of decolonization to my life, specifically to my history, experience, and culture as Abenaki.

My people are a lost people with a lost history. We first encountered colonialism in the early 1600’s when French then English settlers moved into the regions of Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Canada. There was reciprocity of resources in those years when European immigrants would rely on First Peoples for survival and trade. There was peace with the French as resources were abundant.

Then, as is the experience of most indigenous people, the Abenaki experienced biological devastation when exposed to diseases, and the population decreased by 75% in the late 1600’s. Additionally, we were pawns and soldiers in territorial disputes between the English and French; the Abenaki sided with the French immigrants.

Slowly, as the English pushed French settlers out of New England, the Abenaki and…

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Activist, writer Shaun King challenges notions of humanity’s progress

In front of a sold-out Rackham Auditorium, writer and civil rights activist Shaun King took the stage and told the audience he was not there to inspire them. ‘I believe that in a lot of ways, you’re already inspired — that you’re frustrated, that you’re angry, that there’s still hope in you. I don’t think you need me to inspire you. Tonight, I’m really here to teach you a lesson that I think will give you a new lens to see the world,’ he said Monday night. That lesson came straight from the philosophy of German historian Leopold von Ranke.

Source: Activist, writer Shaun King challenges notions of humanity’s progress

Climate Change is real for the coastal people of Bangladesh

“Climate change is a global phenomenon, with local impacts. But action must be taken globally. We are all in it together, either we all swim or all sink. There is no plan B, there is no planet B, this is all we have.”

~Dr. Atiq Rahman, Executive Director of Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, excerpt from the New Zealand documentary film, “30 Million.”

Three Worlds One Vision

30 Million Directed by Daniel Price and Adrien Taylor (2016) Film Review Thirty Million is a New Zealand documentary about how rising sea levels in Bangladesh are already displacing (and killing) people in low lying coastal areas. It depicts quite dramatically how coastal farmers inundated by rising tides are moving into incredibly congested cities, where […]

via How Climate Change is Killing People in Bangladesh — The Most Revolutionary Act

“I think the trick in our hand is that we [the United Nations] have enough knowledge, enough information to act. But it is the collective acting that is what is required now. But if we are not that careful then we will definitely be suicidal if not evil. Evil is the word that could definitely be attributed to the people who have the choice and have not acted, who have the power and have not used it for the greater good…

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Listening with TING!

Listening…often times we hear, but how often do we listen.  Truly listen to what others are saying.  Most times, when we are in dialogue, especially with those with whom we disagree, we listen until we have a point to make.  Then we stop listening.

An example from my classroom.  A student who was white, female, and grew up in rural upper Michigan was sharing of a time when she showed compassion to a family who was African American when they were encountering racism.  She talked about how she was not exposed to diversity in her hometown, but knew what was happening was not right and made a stand.  In fact, given this was her first semester in Ann Arbor on the first day of class, her experience thus far had been the most diverse setting she had ever been in.

Unfortunately, in sharing her story, she used the term “colored people” to describe the African American family.  As soon as she said these words, there was a sudden groan in the class and nearly every person of color and white ally immediately raised their hand hoping I would interrupt her story and let them speak.  I knew quite well what was on their minds.  I could see the anger and frustration in their eyes.  They were triggered and wanted to make sure she knew this.  I did not call on anyone.  Rather, once she had stopped speaking, I calmly thanked this student for sharing her story, for acting as an ally in this situation, and welcomed her as a learner and someone new to diversity.  The looks of students in the class was that of stunned.  I paused and then said, I do want to let you know however that the term colored people is out of date and that the preferred term would be persons of color.  The student was embarrassed and apologetic and claimed she did not know.  She stated that she would do her best to learn this new term and not repeat the old term again.  I thanked and acknowledged her once again.  Slowly, the hands started to lower and though confused by what just happened, they allowed the class to continue.

In social justice education, many believe that what they say and the message that they deliver is what is most important.  How can we convince others that our vision of a socially just future is the right one?  I’d like to suggest that perhaps this can sometimes be a misguided approach and that the most important tool is to listen.  Truly listen.

When we truly listen, what do we hear?  According to the ancient Chinese symbol for listen or “ting” which is embedded above (Huang-Nissen, 1999), listening consists of the following.  We listen with our ears. We listen with our eyes.  And we listen with our minds.  This is not so surprising.  We also listen with our heart, for the emotions that are being conveyed by the speaker.  But why king?  According to Huang-Nissen, when we listen, we should give the speaker the respect of royalty.  Why oneness?  We listen for the oneness of the message, for common ground.  We listen for some truth that we might have missed.  Something we can affirm, so that the speaker knows that we have truly heard them.  And the funny thing about this is, when we truly listen to others, they are more likely to hear us.