Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stop Violence Against Women

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It begins a 16-day period of activism against Gender Violence. In such a large, global battle, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Luckily, there are organizations out there specifically devoted to these causes. You can see what is being done and add your name to a list of people in support of ending such violence.

Also, after recently reading my January post when Obama came into office, I have become much more active in getting on the phone and calling or writing my state rep. It is so easy to say that we don't have the time or the money or the know-how. However, it doesn't take long, and as a woman, it is my responsibility to actively represent those who cannot, for whatever reason, speak themselves.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

White Male Privilege

I'm sick of it. I've really been examining my own privilege as a white, middle class, hetero female, but I've experienced a lot of the above lately.

Today, I finished teaching classes and walked into the department chair's office. He asked if the student interested in dropping my class had found me. I stated that I had just finished class and that no, I had not. Another instructor said that the student has been there for hours. I advised that had the student checked my schedule, she would have been aware that I was in class. The chair informed me that her father was with me and named the student. I said, "Ah. The student who stopped coming a month into class. Now she wants to drop a week and a half before finals." The instructor stated that he was actually related to the girl and that she had been ill and that she was "just a freshman." I informed him that I had many freshman and that I had talked to other ill students who had dropped in a timely manner. The chair was very supportive and said it was totally up to me as to whether or not I would give her a "Q" or fail her.

I walked back to my office thinking about it as, according to my syllabus and policies, the girl has already failed in my mind. Within minutes, the girl and her father stepped into my office. I invited them to sit. The girl did; the father did not (notice body politics at play here). I advised that she had already failed my class. She explained that she had "messed up" and just wanted another chance. I advised that she could petition for a grade replacement and that it would not affect her GPA if she took it successfully. Her father then broke in, respectfully but forcefully, stating that she was having problems with depression and that he wasn't even aware that she wasn't attending class. Well, a. I don't believe him, and b. it doesn't matter. Figure it out. Get your stuff together. The point, however, is that I signed the drop slip: I signed it with a "Q."

I am furious with myself. I'm angry that another (male) instructor would comment on my policy or the student. I'm angry that the student's father came down here. I'm angry that he tried to play on my sympathies. I'm angry that I gave in. I'm angry that as a young teacher, I felt compelled to give in. I don't like it at all. I'm most upset with myself, but I am also furious that I should have to feel somehow wrong (because her father was there) for wanting to fail her. I'm angry that he came as a white middle class, well-dressed male and laid his privilege out on my desk, and I'm angry that I succumbed to that privilege.

I'm ready for the semester to be over, and I wish I could take it back.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Change Day!

I hope everyone was able to watch the coverage of the inauguration. What an awe-inspiring day. I'm not even going to mention the minutiae (the word Charles Gibson used, I know, a hundred times) or the posts on Facebook that are extremely negative.

What I want to focus on were the many, many faces of hope today. Tomorrow is a new day and one which Ezra Klein at The American Prospect aptly states will be the realization of Obama, no longer the idea of Obama. I'm excited about that. Mistakes will be made, no doubt; no one could take the highest office in the land and not make a mistake. However, whatever mistakes are made will be by a man of integrity, a man who is not perfect but believes in Americans and that those same Americans can be the change our country needs. He recognizes that not only do we not all look alike, we also think differently, believe differently, have sex differently, and speak differently. I can stand behind a man who understands that and who is willing to include all of us anyway.

I respect this man. I respect the fact that he has ideals. I respect the fact that he is young. I respect that he is (fairly) new to politics. I respect his differences, and I respect his similarities.

I am hopeful. I hope. I'll be the first to say I need to personally put that hope into action. Service, as he said, is what we need. I'm not quite sure how or where to start, but I will make a pledge to serve, to do what I can where I can in order to make our nation a better place to live, love, work, and be happy and free.