As a result of conversations over the past couple days…

I’m realizing that I need to be clear with myself about exactly what it is that I hope will happen at YDS, for my own reasons and because folks are asking.

The most important thing I want to see is the progressive communities at YDS feel their own power. We exist, as students, as faculty…as members of this community. How about we start acting like it? This is not to suggest that nothing has happened here, indeed, I’m grateful for the progress made thus far. But I’m also keenly aware that there are very rough memories from the times just preceding my arrival, and that these coming days represent the opening of the chance of setting a positive agenda, and not a primary reactive one.

Where does this start? As students, we have a responsibility to check our assent. Yale is Yale because we believe it to be Yale. It exists as a social power, and force of social legitimation because of the continued assent of everyone involved. Everyone who thinks that Yale is one of the premier places of academic learning contributes to that power. We, as students, are chief among the assenters. We need to examine, and where necessary, check that assent. Yale is not the premier place of learning in this world. It is deliberately exclusionary of so many of the truths, facts, and stories of this planet. Structurally, it discounts, ignores, and elides women, queers, persons of color, gender variant people, the Global South, non-Christians, non-Europeans….

So let’s be honest about what Yale is and isn’t. Limiting our assent is a dangerous strategy, in that it creates the potential for hostility. But it is academically honest. We protest not because these are pet projects. We protest these exclusions because this information, these stories, these people are important, and we cannot call this place one of learning if they are not represented, present and active in this community.

We need to get together. We need to think creatively. We need to be critical of the barriers that keep people from working with us. We need to learn to be allies, doing anti-racist, anti-homophobia, anti-patriarchal, anti-classist work in our organizations, to produce just advocacy. We need to identify allies in the faculty, and other positions of relative power. We need to talk about how to survive and thrive in an environment that marginalizes our lives. We need to change this school.

Angry Black Woman opened the question up, that once we realize (I generalize her message here…) privilege…

What are you going to do about it?

For starters, this.

-sly

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