This week’s cover for The New Yorker has been on my mind since I saw the image circulated on Facebook and Twitter a couple of weeks ago. It reminds me of a metaphor for oppression called the “Table of Oppression.” The table, in this case, represents racism and is held up by two sets of legs. On one side, the table legs represent internalized privilege, and on the other, the table legs represent internalized oppression. The table of oppression stands because both sides accept, without examination, the internalized privilege and oppression represented by each set of table legs.
One of the lessons of the Table of Oppression is in the reaching across. Another has to do with seeing ourselves as part of a racial dynamic and developing the skills to navigate racial terrain successfully. This means developing an understanding of our own racial identities in ways that help us heal blame, shame, or guilt and in ways that bring attention to internalized superiority or inferiority. This is reflective and challenging work. It is not only work across but work within.
As I consider The New Yorker image, I wonder what might be done to reach across the gap in the Arch. What kinds of conversations and what risks and joys might there be in this reaching? What can we learn from listening to what it might feel like to be summed up as being on either one side or the other of this image? What learning about our own racial identities and experiences and those of our community and students might help us be in more collaborative relationships with one another?
I believe that as a community we will benefit from some time to share our thoughts and experiences at Crossroads as they relate to our diverse and and inclusive community. I would like to begin in smaller groups and will plan opportunities for us to come together in January so that I can listen and learn. Hopefully, we will begin to bring a deeper meaning to diversity and inclusivity as we reach toward one another. I am interested in your thoughts on this, so please share them by emailing me here.
With great expectations,