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Diversity and Inclusion Reading List: Home

Director of Projects in Campus Equity and Inclusion

Samantha Ivery

Office Barn North 113E

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Bennington College's Vision Statement for Institutional Pluralism and Inclusion

"The College affirms the intersecting identities of all its community members—students, faculty, staff, and alumni—and recognizes their contributions to the vitality of our unique living and learning environment. The College’s approach to pluralism and inclusivity—both as fields of inquiry and practice—is to prioritize flexible thought, and to invite the examination of access, value, and power through its institutional policies and areas of study."

Why Learning Never Ends

By Samantha Ivery

 

One of the many conversations I’ve had while working in higher education was if I saw myself as a scholar-practitioner or the reverse a practitioner-scholar.  When I was working on my master’s degree almost 20 years ago I had no idea what this really meant. The implication in the question was that there existed a tension in this field between those who created and disseminated knowledge and those who used that knowledge.  Further complicating this issue was whether or not you could do both and which was more important; your ability to create knowledge or your ability to integrate the knowledge into your work praxis.

 

If I may keep it 100 with you, I think this discussion is one of the biggest problems in higher education leadership.  If in fact we (faculty, administrators, student-facing and non-student facing staff) were truly committed to the educational principles our institutions espouse, we would freely admit that learning never ends.  In order to meet the needs of all students, in order to inspire creativity and original thought, in order to be competent in working within the diverse world we live in, learning must never end.  Therefore, we would all aspire to be scholar-practitioners and practitioner-scholars; and here is the reason why.

 

Irrespective of the prevalence of traditionally and culturally white, Christian, wealthy, male institutions, our aspiration to transform these educational environments into spaces that welcome every student we admit, then learning must never end.  We must strive to learn and accept what our scholars are telling us are best practices. We must inform the scholars when their work is missing an element of pragmatism. We must, in essence, be both scholars and practitioners. To that end, here is a forum for that work to begin.  

 

Search the resources available in this collection and the variety of places on campus where you can find them.  There are individuals who are opening up their bookshelves for you to continue your learning. Additionally, students have also created resource lists.  There are books, articles and other media. Go a step further and add these works to your course requirements, engage with them to increase your awareness and discuss something you’ve learned or that challenged your prior understandings.  When learning never ends we can all be transformed.

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On My Mind

What I'm Reading

Nicolazzo, Z. (2017). Trans* in college: Transgender students’ strategies for navigating campus life and the institutional politics of inclusion. Sterling, VA: Stylus.


It only takes one news cycle, if that, to see the increased violence and harassment felt by misunderstood and historically marginalized communities.  This phenomenon makes Nicolazzo’s Trans* in college a must read for those who value inclusion, equity, and full access in higher education.  “The aim of this book is to elucidate how trans* college students navigate their gendered cultural context” (p. 16).  While there is an increase in research, according to Nicolazzo, much of the discourse is situated in a deficit model which presents trans* students as having problems with a need for accommodations (Marine, 2011).  Trans* in college invites readers to learn from the voices of trans* students and “recommit to intersectionality” (p. 151) in research and praxis.  An intersectional approach (Bowleg, 2008; See also Crenshaw, 1989, 1995) creates the foundation on which we can embrace the compounding nature of social identities in the lives of students.  Consequently, by better understanding how gender, trans* identity in particular, is understood and discussed, I hope to encourage others to reflect on the ways in which we effectively use an intersectional approach to work with students rather than focusing in on one specific social identity.  It is my hope that this work will create a more seamless and affirming environment for all students

What I'm Thinking About

With exasperation and fatigue, I’ve said multiple times in the last month, “You’re microaggressing the hell out of me.”  (Yes, I know I have turned a noun into a verb.) Nevertheless, that statement underscores a major theme in my personal and professional life. As a Black woman concerned with issues of inequity and intolerance, I am often in discussions that seem redundant and disdained. I’ve been saying for over a decade now, things like, “Why did you touch my hair?” Or, “It doesn’t matter if the joke is not about me, I don’t think it’s funny.”  They are disdained because often I hear sighs, see rolled eyes and ultimately the behaviors continue. I am actually becoming fatigued and slightly angry that I’m still saying the same things. Here’s a helpful thought for those on the other end of my opening statement, “You’re microaggressing the hell out of me.”  Consider the words of Oluo when she writes, “…when you are called out…Before you respond at all, pause and…remember that your goal is…to have a better relationship.” If it matters to you at all, the colleagues, students, family or friends that are naming for you a moment when what you did or said hurt them; Pause; Ask yourself why; Explore if you feel threatened; Remember, this isn’t the first time they’ve been hurt and the impact is greater than your intentions; Do some research; and finally Apologize (Oluo, p. 175-177).

What I'm Reading

“I mean, as I see it, they have the same opportunity and everything.  They should be doing equal,” (p. 31).  This reflection from one of the participants in Bonilla-Silva’s study concretely describes the need for this important book.  In Racism without racists, Bonilla-Silva explores color-blind ideology and the negative impact on anti-racist activism.  He argues, as the title suggests, that there is no racism without racist attitudes and behaviors to maintain and reify the underlying oppression that results from “a pervasive system of advantage and disadvantage based on the socially constructed category of race” (Adams, M., et. al., 2016, p. 134).  He explains that a color-blind racial ideology is “about justifying the various social arrangements and practices that maintain white privilege” (p. 211). I hope after reading this book to better understand the transitions in racial ideology made by white people (Jim Crow, Civil Rights Movement, Affirmative Rights and post-Obama eras).  Consequently, by better understanding how racism and white privilege is understood and discussed, I hope to encourage honest dialogue about how to dismantle this ideology and replace it with a more effective approach to anti-racist activism.

What I'm Thinking About

Peeples gives voice to the unnoticed and unnamed challenge that people of color in the academy face almost daily.  Aggressions, whether micro or macro, “feel like perpetual paper cuts to the spirit, but they act more like parasites. They suck away at a person’s sense of self…. leaving no mark on the outside, offenders never really have to deal with them.”  As a new member of the Bennington College community I was prepared to answer questions about my job, where I am from, and how I am dealing with New England weather. Unknown to most, I additionally prepared myself to encounter stares at my natural waist-long locs and my brown skin.  This additional preparation is not something white people (generally) have to do. Having lived in 9 states across 3 times zones has taught me that my physical appearance to some is invited and welcomed and to others is curious, unwelcomed, and worse feared. Peeples in her post recounts when she came to awareness about her own white privilege and how that privilege came with racist attitudes and behaviors that while unnoticed by her, were visceral in the lives of her colleagues and students.  I am grateful she came to this realization and now I have to remain hopeful that she does not stop there. In order for me to not have to prepare to encounter racism, I need her and others to continue to understand White privilege and work to become anti-racist and end systemic racial oppression.

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