Different Lenses

I must say, I can’t believe it’s all coming to an end: GRAD SCHOOL!  What an incredible journey… and in less than a month, I will have taken my last graduate courses and leave Lansing with a masters degree in hand.  How can this be?  A lot of hard work, hope, and help from others.  I’m ramping up the job search as this chapter comes to an end, hoping to start the next chapter of my life relatively quick.  I will get a job, but where, when, and doing what are all questions that only fate can answer.  Indeed, I am comfortable and mindful that I will end up in the right place.

That being said, there are a few things that have been on my mind, heavy on the mind and conscious of others, and important for me to explore in today’s journal. 

I would like to start by looking to the Trayvon Martin incident as a locus for the current state of America and make a point that change in this country is not only necessary, it will benefit everyone.  Many have explored the murder of Trayvon Martin as a modern-day racist calamity, citing the individuals supporting George Zimmerman’s actions and many of the comments sections of the news articles published in the online media.  It can be difficult, as a social justice activist and educator, to try to find ways to support students that read the news articles and comments that attempt to justify the meandering of consciousness by many and attack Trayvon, both in his actions and in his symbolism.

I choose the words “meandering of consciousness” carefully.  I believe that most individuals, including Americans, are good people and can connect with others on an individual and group level.  However, the lack of empathy and anonymity of online discussions suggest that there are a great many individuals in this country who have strayed from being good-hearted, caring, and compassionate individuals in an attempt to wave a flag of individual rights, particularly that of gun ownership.

That flag is a false flag. It focuses too little on America’s well-being and too much on an individual that has no requirement to the society we share as a people and country.  As a community, we have strayed from searching for solutions that benefit all Americans at the individual and group levels, solutions that would lead us to education, health, and prosperity.  As individuals, we focus too much on ourselves and our own needs, partly out of necessity but also as an act of culture.  Of course, this type of action removes the ability for those displaced by social power and privilege hierarchies to easily support themselves in their own endeavors.  Indeed, this latter point is why many consider the great focus on the individual, to be unfair and false.

As educators, I believe that we have a responsibility to foster inclusion in our environments, whether they are residence halls or K-12 classrooms.  While the media clamors for attention by both vilifying and haloing Trayvon Martin, I ask every individual to see the symbol of his life and the incident of his death as a harbinger for positive social motivation, social justice, and most importantly, a potential turning point for this country to focus on all Americans, not just “me” or “you” and “I.” 

Together we will succeed, alone we will cry. 

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