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Inclusion and Equity Blog
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This blog is dedicated all things Inclusion & Equity within our field and even within our society. Take a moment to explore, read, and engage with one another with the various posts. Interested in submitting your own post, post away! It's an open blog for members of the region to participate with.


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Top tags: diversity  Microaggressions  social justice  inclusion  film review  privilege  dear white people  Harvey Milk  inclusion and equity  Injustice  LGBT  MILK  power  race  social media  To Be Takei 

FILM REVIEW: The Times of Harvey Milk

Posted By Nicole Kurth, Lake Superior State University, Thursday, October 15, 2015

Inclusion & Equity Committee Film Review Series Presents:  “The Times of Harvey Milk”

By: Nicole Kurth | Lake Superior State University



In 1984, Director Robert Epstein carved out a truly great documentary titled: The Times of Harvey Milk. The film shows the lives and untimely deaths of both Harvey Milk and George Moscone. Milk was an openly gay San Francisco Supervisor for the newly created District 5, while Moscone was the Mayor. The two served for 11 months together before being fatally being shot in City Hall by another Supervisor – Dan White on November 27, 1978.


The film opens with the actual footage of acting San Francisco Mayor: Dianne Feinstein announcing the deaths of Milk and Moscone. The film then follows Milk as he grows up before our eyes through pictures while Harvey Fierstein narrates in his trademark voice. We follow Milk from his closeted existence as a gay man in New York to his pilgrimage with his boyfriend Scott out to the more accepting climate of San Francisco’s neighborhood known simply as the Castro. It was from this neighborhood, that Milk ran for the office of City Supervisor three times before finally winning on the fourth try in 1977. Milk was a master manipulator of good press coverage, and thanks to that line of thinking – there is plenty of archival footage, pictures and news articles that detailed his short, but important political career. (Milk wasn’t just a gay Supervisor, in fact as the documentary shows he had supporters including the elderly, Chinese and powerful worker’s unions.) Some of Milk’s important political victories included: the Coors Beer boycott, defeat of Proposition 6 – an attempt to fire any LGBT teachers from teaching in California public schools (and also any of their heterosexual supporters), a dog poop ordinance, and the birth of a LGBT community that saw for the first time that it had political power.


The entire time that Milk was in the political spotlight, he was aware of the possibility that he may be murdered at anytime because of who he was and what he stood for. (These thoughts were underscored by the several death threats he received while in the spotlight.) Due to these thoughts and constant reminders, Milk had the foresight to record his thoughts to be played only the event of his assassination. (Hearing Harvey’s actual voice speak from this tape in the film is sobering as he speaks in such an unaffected way.) After the assassinations are discussed in the film, the actual footage plays of the silent procession of 45,000 people holding a candlelight vigil for their slain Supervisor and Mayor the night of their deaths. The film goes on to cover former Supervisor Dan White’s trial almost a year after the assassinations and his eventual lenient sentence of voluntary manslaughter. This brought about violent gay backlash later that evening on May 21, 1979 – the night before what would have been Harvey Milk’s 49th birthday. The riots came to be known as the “White Night Riots” and they ended up costing the City of San Francisco hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.


This documentary is not just a film about a Supervisor and a Mayor being assassinated in the late 70s, it is also a film about the political and social climate of San Francisco in the late 60s and early 70s. The film was based off of the book: The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk by: Randy Shilts. This is a film where the viewer gets an intimate view of who Harvey Milk was and why he was an important figure not only in LGBT history, but also in our nation’s history. This film now serves as a historical archive and political study for future generations. The Times of Harvey Milk has also went on to inspire an opera and Gus Van Sant’s movie: MILK. Thanks to original film footage, key interviews from people that knew Milk, Moscone, The Castro and the political climate of the times, this film continues to shine anew over 30 years later. This is a film that will continue to ignore expiration dates as it has the ability to reach through the years to today’s new audiences while still connecting to the past with ease and grace that only a truly great documentary can attain.


I give this film a rating of 5 out of 5 stars. “The Times of Harvey Milk” is a wonderful resource for those looking to understand LGBT history and an excellent example of a political study. This film shows Harvey Milk as the regular guy he was and how he started a movement. There are so many lessons to be learned from this film. You can learn something new or take away new thoughts with each viewing. If you’re looking for a film to show to your students during LGBT History Month this October, this film is an excellent place to start! This film is a great starting point for starting dialog with students on the current status of LGBT rights in the USA and world at large. Its also a great film to discuss for politics and history. There are so many starting points and opportunities to connect with your students through the showing of this film. If you’re looking for a more in- depth look at Harvey Milk – please check out additional GLACHUO Equity and Inclusion Committee Reviews: MILK a movie about Harvey’s life and the book: The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk by: Randy Shilts.



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Tags:  Harvey Milk  LGBT 

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Posted By Nicole Kurth, Lake Superior State University, Thursday, October 15, 2015

Inclusion & Equity Committee Film Review Series Presents: “MILK”

By: Nicole Kurth | Lake Superior State University



In 2008, a film directed by Gus Van Sant simply titled: MILK, debuted in the heart of San Francisco at the historic Castro Theatre. The façade was recently restored for the making of the film as part of the transformation the area underwent to accurately represent the area as it was in the 1970s. The film’s release was also bound to the 2008 California state referendum on gay marriage, known widely as Prop 8, two weeks before voters went to the polls to cast their vote. You may be asking yourself, “Why I am I reading a review on a movie that is seven years old?” The answer is because this film is still relevant today as the fight continues against LGBT injustices in this country and around the world. When LGBT people no longer feel scared to be themselves or “come out” and all the hoopla over gay and straight is no longer a dividing wall, this will all be just another chapter in our nation’s history books. LGBT people gained some equilibrium on the June 26, 2015 Supreme Court ruling that Same-Sex Marriage is a nationwide right, but there is still a long way to go. This topic will continue to be on the minds of many Americans for some time. But, how did we as a nation get to this point in our collective history? Who is Milk and why does any of this matter? (These are some of the questions you may hear students and staff ponder aloud and would be a great topic for discussion.) In honor of October’s designation as LGBT month and National Coming Out Day on October 11th, we will take a look at a pioneering activist by the name of Harvey Bernard Milk.


The film MILK is based on the gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk. It opens with archival footage of police raids on gay bars during the 1950s and 1960s, followed by the actual announcement of acting San Francisco Mayor: Dianne Feinstein informing the press that both Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk had been shot and killed on the morning of November 27, 1978 by suspected assassin and former Supervisor: Dan White. The next scene shows 48 year-old Milk recording his will to be played only if he’s assassinated. (In the film, Milk references several times that he doesn’t believe he will make it to his 50th birthday). The film chronicles Milk’s personal journey that led him to becoming the first openly gay man to be voted into a major public office in California and only the third openly gay politician in the U.S in 1977. A post that Milk held for only 11 months before being murdered.


The film shows that Harvey Milk wasn’t always a politician and fiery orator – known around San Fransico as the “Mayor of Castro Street”. Milk had evolved from a closeted New Yorker looking for a change, to a hippie theatre-lover and small business owner of Castro Camera. Milk had chosen to live a more open and honest life with his lover: Scott Smith in San Francisco’s Castro district. Dissatisfied with the way things were, Milk decides to run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors hoping to instill change. Success wasn’t easy as Milk was viewed as an interloper by older gays living in the Castro. As a result, he built rapport and political standing utilizing grass roots efforts, his own sheer will and determination. Harvey began by organizing other gay Castro residents, while also forging alliances with labor unions, minorities, businessmen and labor unions.


Milk ran for the Board of Supervisors three times before being elected Supervisor in the newly created District 5 in 1977. It is here on the board that Milk meets fellow Supervisor Dan White who comes to resent Milk after he opposes projects that White presents to the board. One of Milk’s major projects is his crusade launched to defeat Proposition 6 – a California state initiative on the 1978 ballot sponsored by conservative legislator: John Briggs. Proposition 6 sought to ban gays, lesbians (and anyone who supported them) from working in California’s public schools. (This was part of a nationwide fight against gays started by Anita Bryant and her group Save Our Children in Florida to repeal a local gay rights ordinance in Dade County.) On November 7, 1978 – Milk and supporters celebrate after Prop 6 is defeated in California. Shortly after, Dan White resigns his position as Supervisor only to demand his seat back shortly after. Mayor George Moscone denies White’s request to reappoint White after Milk lobbied against it.


On the morning on November 27, 1978, White enters San Francisco City Hall through a side window with a concealed handgun. White meets with the Mayor and becomes enraged after he realizes he won’t be reappointed. White murders Moscone and then reloads his gun and goes looking for Supervisor Harvey Milk. White asks to speak with Milk in his former office, where he guns Harvey down and delivers the final shot execution-style. (This scene is one of the most dramatic ones in the film, for after the audience comes to know and like Harvey, he is senselessly taken away from us. It leaves the viewer with a profound sense of loss.) The last scene shows archival footage of the silent candlelight vigil as it progressed through the Castro District to City Hall the night of the assassinations. This scene hammers it home, that this senseless crime really did happen and all of these emotions are resonating within… but most of all epic sadness.


This film is a fascinating history lesson that presents many layers in an easily understood way. It’s a great way to talk about LGBT history with your students. It’s also an excellent conversation starter for discussing power and privilege with your students. Many people don’t know who Harvey Milk was. I will be the first to admit, I had never heard of him until II originally saw this film. It stayed with me and got me to open up and talk to others about what was going on in this country and it started a dialog. I think that was the whole purpose of this film – to serve as a vehicle to open up dialog on a subject that this country is only really starting to talk about. I find Harvey’s message of “hope” shining through in all of this. I think this film is honest because Harvey Milk was never depicted as a hero, but rather a regular guy that was trying to make the world a better place. He just happened to be gay. This film showed what an ordinary citizen could accomplish. He was in the right place at the right time to stand-up at the precise moment in history when it was most needed. He was that much needed spark, but unfortunately it cost him his life.


I give this film a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. “MILK” is a good starting point for having meaningful conversations with students or staff on the gay rights movement and would be an excellent choice to show this October for LGBT month. It provides a face to someone who made a difference in the movement and makes everything more understandable. The acting is superb. Sean Penn, who portrayed Harvey Milk, did a remarkable job of accurately representing his life and work – a feat that earned the actor an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. If you’re looking for a more in depth look at Harvey Milk – please check out additional GLACHUO Equity and Inclusion Committee Reviews: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk – a documentary about Harvey and the gay movement and political atmosphere of the 1970s and the book: The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk by: Randy Shilts.



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Film Review: "To Be Takei: A Star's Trek for Life, Liberty and Love

Posted By Colleen Bunn, Miami University, Friday, September 25, 2015

Reviewed By Nicole Kurth, Lake Superior State University 

Jennifer M. Kroot’s 2014 documentary follows around the pop culture personality and Star Trek icon George Takei as he makes media appearances, hangs out with his husband Brad and reflects on his life thus far. For a 77 year-old, George is just as active on social media as any college student or young adult. Chances are, you may see his posts on your social media on a pretty regular basis. The guy is pretty witty and always has something cute, funny or important to share. If you haven’t shared something of his on your Facebook, maybe your friends have retweeted one of his posts in their feed. George, it seems is everywhere spreading his joyful message of: “Its okay to be Takei.”

The film opens with George and hubby Brad powerwalking down a street in their neighborhood. All the while, the two carry on and bicker like the old married couple they are. (Brad and George have been together for 29 years.) The film is sequentially disorganized as it jumps from talking one minute about George’s film career, to signing autographs at a comic con. In between these scenes it is revealed that George and his family were held in a Japanese-American Internment Camp during World War II, first down South and then out West. Due to the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan, Japanese-American citizens had their allegiance to the United States called into question by the American government. Families like George’s were uprooted from their homes and relocated to a camp, where they lived in barrack-like structures that were surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers – complete with armed U.S. soldiers with their eyes and weapons trained on them at all times. The treatment was harsh and demeaning. George’s family lost their home and business while they were interned in the camp. They had to start over working menial jobs after the war. American citizens continued to treat George’s family and others like his as if they were second-class citizens after the war. Many looked upon them with contempt. These memories from his childhood would later serve as inspiration for a play called “Allegiance”. Despite this horrible treatment, George still loved his country greatly. He set out to pursue a career in acting and to become a well-known Asian actor in a field dominated mostly by Caucasians at the time. His positive attitude kept him buoyant in the otherwise rough seas of his life. The film shows that George’s breakthrough role on the original Star Trek series as Mr. Sulu made an impression on other Asian actors and inspired them to also pursue their dreams of acting.

There is another scene that sticks out in this film. It’s when George appeared as a guest on the Howard Stern Show. Besides being surprised at seeing George on Stern’s show, it is interesting to see George firmly deny his homosexuality. The George we all know now is openly gay and a strong supporter of LGBT rights. In the course of the film, it is revealed that George knew he was gay since he was a teenager. But in interests of protecting both himself and his career, he chose to live a closeted life. (George decided to come out in 2005 and wed his longtime partner, George Altman, in 2008.)

Even though this film jumps around a lot, George’s instantly recognizable laugh keeps the viewer tuned in. There are many missed opportunities in this film. If the scenes sequence had followed perhaps a more logical pathway and all the threads were pulled together in the narrative, I would have given this film a high rating. I lay blame on the editor and the director for not pulling the film together. I was especially surprised that more was not said or commented on George’s position as a LGBT rights supporter. I also feel more time could have been spent on his childhood experiences in an internment camp and how it shaped him as a person. I think it would have been interesting to delve more into George’s presence on social media. I mean, one simply doesn’t see many 70 year-olds holding Court on the web these days. So, my final rating on this film is a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Its entertaining and worth the watch, but Jennifer Kroot was unable to weave all the pieces of George’s story together in the end when it needed most. I believe this is this film’s only flaw.

This film is a good option to show students if you want to discuss power and privilege, WWII history, injustices, LGBT history/current topics, or minorities. George Takei is a person that most students and staff will recognize. His sweet-natured personality makes him easy to listen to and very likable. His status as a social media icon and LGBT spokesperson give us many opportunities to discuss the progress of the LGBT movement and its recent victory for marriage equality this past June. His experiences in an internment camp could lead to many ethical discussions with students. Just like George Takei has been able to boldly go where no man has gone before, we too can dare to ask questions of our students utilizing topics raised in this film that maybe make some uncomfortable. But, by following George’s advice of: “It’s Okay to be Takei”, we can feel a little bit freer to be ourselves. 

Tags:  film review  Injustice  To Be Takei 

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Film Review: Dear White People

Posted By Colleen Bunn, Miami University, Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Film Review by Keith Wise, SSV Hall Director at Illinois Institute of Technology

In the summer of 2012, a trailer for a proposed Indiegogo film titled Dear White People arrived on YouTube. During this same year, college campuses were in heavy debate on whether President Barak Obama’s second election to the Office of President signaled a true post-racial America. Now, three years later, the landscape of colleges and universities has been changed by protest and riots in Ferguson, Missouri, the Eric Garner trial in New York City, and the SAE Fraternity situation at Oklahoma University. How can a film explain the feelings and thoughts of our residents during times like this? Well, there is a film that came out in October of 2014 that reflects the emotions of the current times.   

The film Dear White People is a satire about the experience of being a minority at a predominantly white institution today. The challenges that each character encounters offer an exceptional look at what it means to be a student in the supposedly post-racial America. The film brings up several different micro-aggressions that minority students go through in a comedic matter. The light hearted nature of some of the early scenes of the film help to set up the more thought provoking questions that arise from the latter half of the film. A good film relies on the development of its core characters. Director and writer Justin Simien uses comedy as a way to start the discussion on race relations on college campuses. In addition to that, Simien deals with a variety of minority student challenges going on at college campuses today. Simien uses the core characters of the film to address race relationship by identifying some of the challenges of African American students in particular.

The main characters Sam, CoCo, Lionel, and Troy, represent four distinct aspects of the African American experience in college. Sam is a biracial student who struggles with how to define both sides of her culture and being in a biracial relationship. Colandrea, or, as she prefers in the film, CoCo, appears as a person who is only interested in fame and wealth, and does not care about self-pride. Lionel is a new student who does not seem to fit into any of the stereotypical ideas of African American culture nor caucasian culture and is learning to accept his sexuality. Finally there is Troy, whose father is the dean of the college, and has to balance keeping up his presumed “perfect” African American male persona or following his true passion to write jokes for Saturday Night Live. Each of these characters has a large amount of pressure to define what being African American is to them. Throughout the film, each character is asked to pick a side and shape their experience on that decision. The results of each characters coming of age helps to push the story and give insight to an audience who may not be familiar with those African American college experiences. A valuable lesson can be taken from each of the characters final decisions, where they ultimately decide to not let their surroundings define them, but rather create their own story. These stories are similar to what some of our minority students face daily on college campuses across our nation.

Residents today are facing difficult challenges daily in reference to race & culture. Power and privilege play heavily into their lives as minority college students and this film illustrates that clearly. Two other characters, Sam & Kurt, are two clear representations of power & privilege.  Kurt is a caucasian character whose father is the president of the college. Kurt does not need to be an excellent student because his family comes from wealth and he is guaranteed success when he graduates because of that wealth. Sam’s character is a brilliant film student who is nearly expelled for her protesting on campus and radio show comments. Sam’s success is based on her ability to do well academically but she also judged and punished by her opinions which stunt her creativity. These two characters are the faces of some of our residents who come from diverse backgrounds and are not able to get along because of those differences. These are some of the first roommate conflicts we all see each spring. Diversity training every year focuses on how to get these types of students to come to grips with their differences and learn from each other. However, power and privilege still blinds some students from being able to appreciate differences within each other. This is where this film succeeds in helping us start the discussion on embracing different cultures and ideas.

Films like Dear White People allow the audience to create dialogue on the topic on race relations. Each character’s story opens up the doors to explore and question what the minority experience in college today truly is. The large variety of character stories grabs the audience attention and allows them to see different perspectives on the African American experience. It also opens up the door to discuss how power and privilege affect our students on a daily basis. After seeing this film with some of the Black Student Union members here at Illinois Institute of Technology, the film made me want to jump directly into dialogue about their experiences and any similarities they had to the students in the film. In writing this review I can only remember the excitement I had to hear great dialogue from my residents & student affairs colleagues after seeing the film. I believe this film is just what our college campuses need during this time of protest and debate.

Overall Grade: 4/5- Solid story, memorable characters, and thought provoking situations are the best way to sum up Dear White People. This film is definitely one you need to show your students to create the positive and important dialogue we need to have with students when it comes to race relations.

Tags:  dear white people  film review  race 

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Stop, Collaborate, and Listen: Talking About Power and Privilege

Posted By Michael King, Ball State University, Monday, March 16, 2015

Supporting student dialogue through national events, movements, and protests. Creating safe spaces for students of all gender identities on our campuses. Promoting a culture of bystander intervention as it relates to sexual assault. Understanding the identity process for students who are bi-/multiracial. Supporting students of differing sexual orientations, racial/ethnic identities, ability levels, religions, national citizenship statuses.

As the Inclusion and Equity committee worked to hone in on a committee scope, one thing became clear: We – residence life professionals – have quite a bit of work to do. In the past year, all the aforementioned topic areas brushed with the work we've been doing on our campuses. That said, the decision to commit to each of these topics runs the risk of doing many things but doing none of them well. How does a handful of residence life professionals go about deciding which of these topic areas is important, which ones can be moved aside for today?

Then, as though the clouds parted and innovation fell over us like rain, an idea was put forth: "All of these topic areas fall under the ideas of power and privilege. Could we make that our committee focus?" And so it was born: The Inclusion and Equity committee identified a committee scope related to power and privilege, and – through that lens – committee members could focus their efforts in the direction of whichever topic area they felt pertinent.

Let's talk about power and privilege in 2015: The word "privilege" is no longer a vocabulary word exclusively known and utilized by alumni of university diversity and multiculturalism courses. In today's click-and-share social media climate, it is far from uncommon to see an Upworthy video or Jezebel article related to privilege as it relates to gender equality, differing ability level, LGBT identity, or any other social justice area. In many ways, this is a sign of remarkable progress; college students are engaging in out-of-the-classroom discussions of power and privilege. As we well know, however, not all education is positive education.

Here's an example from my experience: While I was in graduate school, I noticed one day that many of my students were sharing the results of a Buzzfeed quiz entitled "How Privileged Are You?" Happy to see them discussing notions of privilege, I decided to investigate the quiz and see what it had to say about my own experience with privilege. As I moved through the process, a series of boxes to be checked if the listed statements were true for me, I began to realize something: In some ways, I am privileged. In other ways, I am not. As I finished out the quiz, I realized that I am often focused on ways in which I am not privileged, but – in the vast majority of ways – I experience quite a bit of privilege. When I finished the quiz, I was a bit startled by the response: You're not privileged!


What a feel-good conclusion, Buzzfeed. In a mere fifteen minutes, despite my momentary realization of privilege, I had been granted permission by the Internet to absolve myself of the burden of working toward a more equal society. Privilege, according to this undoubtedly well-intended quiz, is a yes/no concept. Were these students truly benefiting from this contribution to the power and privilege discussion?

Thinking over the past year, the national news is bringing plenty of opportunities for college students to grapple with power and privilege in society. The Ferguson verdict and ensuing protests. Bill Cosby and the women stepping forward to share their stories. Michael Sam and other athletes who are stepping forward to speak themselves into existence in a historically "LGBT-free" terrain. Reading the comments section on any article, Facebook post, or YouTube video, reminds all of us that the discussion on power and privilege is not always productive.

For people of privilege, the accusation of privilege can bring about a lot of progress-halting emotions: Shame. Defensiveness. Denial. When these emotions fuel a response, the conversation becomes a mud-flinging contest. "The Ferguson riots are evidence that these people are dangerous." "These women speaking out against Bill Cosby are just money-/attention-hungry liars defacing the image of a good man." "Enough about Michael Sam and his boyfriend kissing on national television." Not all conversation is good conversation.

And so here we are, working to promote a simple strategy once brilliantly articulated by the illustrious Vanilla Ice: "Stop, collaborate, and listen." In a culture of megaphones, we often forget to set aside our own feelings and empathize. We have plenty of work to do, residence life professionals, and it begins with the role modeling and promotion of listening, empathy, willingness to learn. 

Let's begin the discussion. For its 2014-2015 year, the Inclusion and Equity committee has honed in on a committee focus on power and privilege.

Tags:  inclusion and equity  power  privilege 

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Microaggressions from the Perspective of Privilege

Posted By Joseph Binkley, University of Southern Indiana, Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I've mentioned this idea earlier in other posts, but i wanted to elaborate on it more directly. What do microaggressions look like for someone who is of privilege? To help understand exactly what this is I think we have to clarify what our definition of privilege is for this discussion. If you do a Google search for the definition of the word you find it to be defined as "a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people". I think this covers the basic idea of what privilege is, but may need more clarification for some. When we look at this idea of privilege we are thinking of those who have power, control or benefits based on qualities of a person, that of which can be earned or are inherent in that person. We also have to remember what scope we are considering when talking about privilege. Are we considering privilege within a specific community or as a general discussion across the country. Privilege in Chicago may look different than privilege in Indianapolis for example.  For this discussion, we are looking at privilege in a general sense across the country. 

I bring this topic up to share my experience. To share the perspective of someone who comes from a lot of privilege. Before getting interested in the topic of social justice I was quite ignorant about this and many other topics. It wasn't until I began to try and empathize with others that I began to have a greater understanding. For someone who is early in their understanding of social justice and diversity I strongly encourage you to begin with that. While you will never truly understand what microaggressions or other forms of discrimination, you can at least gain some insight. Like with any learning, you also need to try to take the ideas of privilege and move them from the abstract to the concrete. I have also found it good to reflect on my interactions with others. Was there any indicators that I could have said a microaggression or other disrespectful comment? What body language did I have when they were speaking? If there is any possibility that my intentions and actions/words were not in line it is important that I follow up with that person. It is basic human decency to provide the respect to everyone that is due. With great power comes great responsibility. With the power I have as someone with privilege comes the responsibility to not use to oppress others. 

Tags:  diversity  Microaggressions  privilege  social justice 

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Posted By I&E Committee, Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Many of you probably remember when the “Sh*t People Say” craze got going on YouTube. They were funny because they were true, but they also showed just how much ignorance people have. I have included the link to five popular videos that cover a variety of topics. As you watch them pay attention to phrases that are being used across the different topics. Also, for those of you that may still be having a hard time really understanding what micro-aggressions are, these videos are filled with them. If you aren’t sure why some of the comments are micro-aggressions let me know in the comments section. Be warned that there are a few curse words used in some of the videos. – “Sh*t White Girls Say…to Black Girls” – “Sh*t Straight Guys Say to Gay Guys” – “Sh*t Christians Say to Jews” – “Sh*t Civilians Say to Veterans” – “Sh*t People Say to People with Disabilities”

 What is interesting for me to see in these videos is that there are some similar things that have been said to each of these groups. Two comments that I noticed were in most, if not all, of the videos were “…but you are so pretty” and “Do you know…?” I think it is important to note that a micro-aggression is just about what words you use, but also in how and when you say the comment or ask the questions. Some of the comments made in the videos would have a totally different meaning had they been said in a different environment or in a different way.

Tags:  diversity  inclusion  Microaggressions  social justice 

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Posted By Joseph Binkley, Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I write the following as a release of angst based on the wide degree of views I have seen amongst my friends, specifically based on the posts and comments they have made on a particular social media site about a particular topic. I am the type of person that values differences in people, thus, I conclude, the reason that I have such a wide variety of qualities in my friends. Among most of friends I am likely seen as “liberal” in most topics, but in reality I would consider myself much more of a “moderate”. I say this because I don’t feel like any of my views are extreme one way or another, but in general I would agree that they generally lie on the more “liberal” side. Now to the reason I even mention any of this in a blog that is supposed to be focused on micro-aggressions. I very frequently find myself reading various comments and posts about various topics that are currently trending in the media on Facebook. They are riddled with close minded views, misconceptions and lack of care for what others believe. I notice that they are more often than not posted by individuals who I have no connections to whatsoever, they are the friend of a friend. I also find these views include both extremes on these topics, not just those I would consider “conservative”.  A group that often gets stereotyped for this type of behavior.

I find myself in a crossroads of uncertainty. These are people whom I do not know, I have never met in person, nor is it likely I ever will, but have some relationship to a person I know and who share a similar view on the topic as that friend. I know many of you have had similar experiences and those that have knowledge about micro-aggressions are probably thinking to yourself that the comments usually aren’t exactly micro-aggressions in the general sense rather a specific subset. They often come in the form of a micro-assault, micro-insult and/or micro- invalidation. In the most recent set of posts I have come across the individuals has said some things that would fall under the micro-insult and micro-invalidation headings. At the end of the day I am left with the nagging question, “do I say something?” If I decide yes, then I’m led to thinking about how I deal with this situation tactfully. In some situations it is clear there is some great misunderstanding or misinformation that can easily be rectified. Other situations there is an opinion that doesn’t have, nor does it require, any factual backing. In these situations I am less prone to comment. Who am I to say your personal belief is wrong?

I’m well versed in the idea of bystander intervention and in general will combat this ignorance in person, but the dynamic changes in the social media realm. People seem to be less capable of having intelligent conversations. There is no way to read body language or tone. There is no fear of embarrassment. There is a barrier to prevent a real connection and a sense of invulnerability when posting. Posters have complete control of their environment and can add or remove whomever/whatever they choose.

At the end of the day it all comes down to choice. Is there a sizeable concern you have about what is being posted? Would that offend or bother someone even if it doesn’t bother you? Is there clearly some misinformation being presented and propagated? Yes to any of these means you should say something and just like you would in person it is important that you do it in an educational, non-aggressive and respectful manner. Hopefully, the same will be mirror back to you.

Tags:  diversity  inclusion  Microaggressions  social justice  social media 

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Posted By Joseph Binkley, Tuesday, May 13, 2014

“Doesn’t your hair give you a headache?” “That’s so gay” “Your English is good” “I’m surprised you did so well” “Do you play basketball?” “You talk white” “What are you?” “Are you a lesbian because a man hurt you?” “Tell us the Hispanic perspective” “If she didn’t want the attention she shouldn’t have dressed like that” We have all heard these comments at some time or another. They are the little pinpricks of offensive language that some individuals use. They are insults, usually subtle, towards a person most frequently relating to one’s race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

Microaggressions. These small aggressions may not always be as direct as the comments above. For example, if a person continually inserts a specific pronoun when no indication of gender is given, a person assumes that someone is straight, gay, etc. or always goes to the “Asian” or “Indian” kid in class because you assume they are good at math. These all fall under the umbrella of microaggressions.

There are an almost infinite number of phrases and words that are used in a way that offends others. There is no limit to where these comments can go and who they can offend. This blog will delve into the experiences of individuals as they deal with microaggressions, what the microaggressions are saying about a person or group and what affect they can have on those you interact with.

Tags:  diversity  inclusion  Microaggressions  social justice 

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Posted By Michael King, Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I remember the moment I decided on a thesis topic. After weeks of halfheartedly sifting through articles on leadership development and the undergraduate experience, I found myself sitting in an evening class on student development theory. My professor, hoping to stoke class discussion, posited a simple question: If a student says he’s been cyber-bullied, should we get involved? To me, the answer was an obvious “yes,” but the discussion that began seemed to be headed in the other direction.

“It opens up a can of worms,” a classmate said, arguing that an intervention with one online behavior opens the door for obligation to intervene with others. “It’s not our business.” “It’s too easy for the Internet to make people anonymous.” And then, finally, the idea that pushed me to object: “If a man’s getting bullied, shouldn’t we encourage him to handle it alone? After all, Chickering says students need to develop competence.”

I don’t remember what I said, exactly. Something about recent news stories of male bullying victims having taken their own lives. About the damaging nature of drawing an absolute parallel between “competence” and “handling problems alone.” About the absurd meaning behind phrases like “man up” and “grow a pair” that echo again and again in our society. My heart was beating, and my blood was boiling. That night, long after class had ended and I was lying in bed, I found my mind still racing over the question.

And then, the light bulb moment: This is my thesis topic!

More than a year later, I am in the late stages of completing a graduate thesis. “The Impact of Masculinity on Undergraduate Men’s Perceptions of Bullying and Help-Seeking.” Six participants, all undergraduate men with unique experiences. A student athlete, a fraternity man, a first-year student, an openly gay student, a Resident Assistant, and a female-to-male transgender man. Each with an incredible story.

At this point in time, I’m wrapping transcriptions and beginning the process of encoding, but I can tell you that patterns have already emerged. All of these men say they’ve been accused of “not being man enough” at one point or another, an idea they acknowledge has been damaging to their self-worth. All of them point to similar expectations for college men: heavy drinking, promiscuous heterosexual sex, and involvement in sports and fitness over academics.

A man, according to the undergraduate men I had the opportunity to speak with, is expected to handle his struggles independently. Expressing struggle is akin to admitting weakness, and the consequences vary from judgment to social isolation. Even the men I anticipated would have negotiated their masculinity beyond this, men who’ve negotiated non-hegemonic masculine identities (such as a gay identity, a transgender identity, or an emotionally expressive one) acknowledge an emphasis on handling matters independently if possible.

As I said, there’s still a lot of sorting and analysis to be done to draw appropriate and useful conclusions from the stories of the six men I spoke with, but the patterns have already begun rising to the top: repress weakness, handle the hard times alone, and know that a person’s masculinity is always fair game for scrutiny.

As we work with men in the higher education arena, it is unbelievably important to begin broadening the perception of what constitutes “a man.” This begins, I believe, with identifying our own assumptions and biases, researching through them, and broadening our own definitions. After this, we can begin our work educating undergraduate men to see masculinity more broadly. We can also affirm the identities of non-hegemonic undergraduate men simply by refusing to scrutinize and choosing to embrace each man’s unique identity.

Perhaps through this process, we can begin pulling threads from the barriers standing between men and the helpful resources they sometimes need to thrive. The higher education arena is characterized often as a world promoting new understanding, new freedoms, and new opportunities to be. If this is to be true for men, men of all backgrounds and identities and expressions and spirits, then we must focus on making the college space safe for men to be authentically themselves.


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