Tonight in my #ecmp355 class we discussed social activism and how it should find it’s place in an online space. Firstly, I would like to admit that I am not one who is much for drawing attention to myself, online or in person, with controversial topics of conversation. I prefer to discuss happy topics or interesting topics that don’t spark a debate. I would love to discuss that cute kitten meme you just shared or that book you just read, but don’t try to involve me in a lengthy debate about politics, gender, or privilege.
Wait, what did I just say?
Chances are that book you just read has some sort of politics, gender, or privilege present in it. And that meme? Yeah, that’s privilege. Since I have begun my journey to become an educator, I have started to look at the world around me with a critical lens. My willingness to discuss a debatable social justice topic has risen. I have realized that my little happy world I live in is a direct result of white privilege; the children of my relatives weren’t stolen away from families and taken to residential schools.
As an educator, it is my job to teach social activism in the classroom. It is literally my job, because it is literally in the Saskatchewan Curriculum. I was prompted by my professor, Katia, to think about my online actions in relation to social activism. She wrote back in 2015 about being silent about social justice issues online:
We have a responsibility to risk our privilege to give voice to social inequities and injustices. We have a responsibility to risk our privilege to give voice to those who have no privilege to risk.
I am going to address the act of “risking my privilege”. My brain has a hard time wrapping around that idea. Isn’t it impossible to risk our privilege? I have no power over my privilege. My privilege is my heritage, the colour of my skin, my ancestors. No matter what I do, whether it be going to jail or going to the grocery store, people see me as a white, European, privileged person. I will be treated that way forever and will benefit from that forever. No matter what I do online and no matter how many people don’t like it, I will still be a person who is touched with privilege.
I think that online social activism is not the end all and be all of who a person is, but I do think that being silent is not the answer. This is such a personal issue for everyone and I believe it comes down to our own personal learning journey and where you are at in your life path. Three years ago, I would have had a very different opinion on this matter. I was very passive about social justice issues before I started my journey to become an educator. Since I have grown, however, I see the importance it has in the world around me. I have a reason for and an understanding of why I need to be a social justice warrior.
As Katia mentioned this evening, some opinions are the wrong opinions. I don’t believe my choice to stray from causing obvious controversial debate online is the wrong opinion. I think it may make me less courageous than others in the fight against wrong opinions, but it doesn’t make me wrong. Plus, my journey is just beginning; perhaps in a year or two this blog post will be obsolete in the life of Kim and I will be a totally different person.