Why I Will Not Stop Talking about Systemic Oppression or: How I Learned to Give Up and Embrace My Inner Dumpster Fire Nature
Hello, blogosphere, it’s been awhile. Despite my best attempts to be more regular with my blogging, I have really failed. However, there have been a series of situations over the past four months that have made me feel the intense need to break my silence.
As is my usual practice, I want to share a few stories to frame my blogpost.
I am teaching a Foundations of Higher Education course this fall. I started the course out by having students read Dr. Lori Patton Davis’ article, Disrupting Postsecondary Prose: Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education. Students and I follow this up by reading Dr. Craig Steven Wilder’s Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities. Students and I follow this up by not letting up. We keep talking about racism, settler colonialism, and the web of oppressive ideologies that are foundational to institutions of postsecondary education. In doing so, I can tell some students—all White students—are disengaged and uninterested in continuing to discuss oppression. I am given indicators that some students—all White students—would rather we just talk about the history, organization, and administration of higher education in “race-neutral” ways. This form of resistance, often, but not always, embodied in non-verbal ways in the classroom is not an unusual experience for me as a critical trans* educator.
I am at the Association for the Study of Higher Education Annual Meeting. I go to a session about embodied pedagogy, where two of my colleagues present an intensely beautiful paper that moves me to tears. I have literally never experienced something as evocative and moving as this presentation at ASHE, but I hold my tears back. During the question and answer portion of the session, a White woman starts praising the two Black presenters of the paper in question. She says that the form of embodied pedagogy they presented was moving, and how wonderful it was, and wow-we-should-all-be-so-brave-and-aren’t-you-something-else-for-doing-this. By doing this, she is consuming the presenters’ Blackness for her own White woman benefit, helping herself feel better that she is lauding their work without recognition of her recentering her Whiteness. She neglects the way that all marginalized bodies, whether we want to or not, engage in embodied pedagogy in the classroom. She positions embodied pedagogy as a performance that one does on a stage at the front of a classroom, a performance that is so “innovative” and “cutting edge,” rather than real, raw, and an always already lived reality for those on the margins. She doesn’t get it.
An open letter to a student affairs professionals Facebook group is blogged by an upper-level professional in the field.* She writes about wanting to work with “happy, whole people,” and states that the Facebook page “has become a place for unhappy, broken, people to showcase their brokenness.” She goes on to threaten the employability of these same “broken people,” who she calls “dumpster fires.” She continually reinforces that she wants to work with “happy, whole, people.” She clearly hasn’t read any Sara Ahmed. She also clearly doesn’t understand how she is furthering Trumpian, alt-right, racist, xenophobic illogic in her call to “reclaim the page.” She doesn’t seem to understand—or perhaps she does—that she is effectively calling for people to #MakeStudentAffairsGreatAgain.
In all of these stories, the common thread is the perseverance of chronic White supremacist ideology in the field of higher education and student affairs. Through this ideological perspective, marginalized peoples’ lives and livelihoods are ignored (story #1), consumed (story #2), and openly disavowed (story #3). Marginalized people are called “broken” and labeled “dumpster fires.” Our future employment is threatened if we don’t fall in line. Our lives are dismissed, and our histories are positioned as just something to get through. Our bodies, and the realities of our always already being in risky situations in classroom spaces—and all over college campuses—is (re)positioned as just an “innovative teaching tool.”
And so this is why I will never stop talking about systemic oppression. This is why, to paraphrase Christopher Guest’s film This is Spinal Tap!, I will turn up my efforts to 11. This is why those of us who are committed to disrupting and unseating White supremacy, systemic racism, compulsory able-bodiedness, trans* oppression, sexism, classism, and their interlocked and accompanying ideologies must come together to continue to resist and build better, more liberatory futures.
This is why, as Dr. Patton Davis (2016) wrote so beautifully in her aforementioned piece, “Plainly stated, higher education has a long way to go” (p. 335). Oh yes we do, and these three stories just add to the heaping pile others have experienced that reinforce the very long road ahead.
So, from one self-proclaimed killjoy, from one so-called dumpster fire (who secured a tenure-track post and is doing quite well on it thus far, thank you very much) to the countless others in our field, I say this:
Keep burning and know that I am burning alongside you.
Keep burning collectively, because together our light is strong, and we will win.
We will not give up.
We will win.
*I have chosen not to link the open letter discussed in story #3, as I do not want to further the authors dangerous and dismissive ideas/ideology. Additionally, the post is easy enough to find given the context and direct quotes I have provided, if readers are wanting to search for it on their own.
I should be grading right now.
I should be grading, but I am not. I will grade today, but later. Instead, I need to get this blogpost written, because I have waited far too long to be open about something. This something, I suspect, is a practice in which many of us are deeply invested, and we use all sorts of Perfectly Logical Explanations not to confront (such as my need to grade). Even writing this now, I keep looking at the clock, knowing I need to be grading. But I need to write this now, so the grading can wait.
This post starts with the Instagram photo to the right, which a dear friend of mine posted last week. When I saw it, my eyes widened and my heart rate quickened. I was in my kitchen making dinner, and I took a long pull from my open beer. See, my eyes and heart were hip to something I was trying to avoid for quite a while, which was the fact that I had been using the rhetoric of "self-care" to do anything but that.
It's a familiar narrative, I suspect, for many. We turn on Netflix, order a pizza, and turn off our phones as a way to "unplug" and "unwind." We say we are doing this as a way of "caring for ourselves." This may be true in many respects; however, I would be lying if I didn't admit that part of this, for me anyway, is escaping the very self-care I say I am doing. In other words, I use pizza, Netflix, and various other forms of "self-care" as a form of getting away from taking care of myself. My version of self-care, then, is not caring for myself.
Now to be fair, I am not saying that pizza and Netflix are terrible, nor am I saying that I am always avoiding myself when I turn to these comforts. However, my friend's Insta post did act as a call to action, because I know I am guilty of twisting the logic of self-care to do the exact opposite: I use it to continue not caring about myself. And I need that to end.
Lately, I have been going to counseling. Attempting to break my habit of going to counseling for a few weeks and then ending it abruptly, I am trying very hard to make this stick. I have a great therapist, and am digging super deep. I am unearthing intensely unsettling realities and narratives, including my own collusion in various forms of internalized/socialized dominance. It's gross, and it's icky, and yet...it is so very necessary. I am starting to feel better, and I am working to recommit to myself, no matter how hard or long this recommitment will take.
I recently told my therapist that the process of going to therapy was really tough for me. He had asked me a question about a previous relationship, but I couldn't dig any deeper that day, and I just said it was a hard process, and this was the very moment when, previously, I would have stopped coming to counseling. He dealt really well with this speed bump, and we paused to talk about the process of counseling. We set a meeting for two weeks later, and I came back...thankfully. I see this as a sign that I am doing better, and am more committed...and I still have work to do.
I am still (as many of us are, I suspect) much better at deconstructing my environment and myself than I am at dreaming liberatory thoughts. I am much better breaking down how what I am thinking and doing is not (fill in the blank), rather than how I can love myself for who I am, and re-envision myself as I would like to be. In many ways, this mirrors the training I have had as an academic. I can break down a situation real quick, and tell you some of the hidden narratives that reify dominant, oppressive illogics; however, I am not as great as I want to be at affirming myself and my own worth in liberatory ways. What's more silly is that I can do this for others. I am much better at affirming others than I am at affirming myself. I say this is silly because I know how to do this, but just choose not to with myself. And all the while, I say I am finding ways to practice self-care, when really, I am just moving further and further away from taking care of myself. I am twisting the logic of "self-care" to my own ends, using it as a way to not care for myself.
I want this to end, and I need this to end. So I am going to try something different, because previous attempts haven't worked. I am going to make a public, open decision, and invite others to join me if you also struggle with some of the same stuff as I do. I am going to invest in myself by practicing, for 40 days, self-affirmation. I am going to begin believing what my nearest and dearest have been telling me for years, which is that I am worthy of love, dignity, and humanity. I am going to spend time each day, for the next 40 days, focusing on affirming myself, my talents, my body, my thoughts, my actions, and my work. I am going to divest in negative talk and putting myself down, and instead I am going to "big myself up" a bit. This will be an intervention with myself, and I am going to work hard not to hide from this by twisting notions of self-care as I have done in the past. I am going to invest in liberatory and radical self-care, and I will invest in this in public, out loud, and with community.
I will use the hashtag #40DaysOfAffirmation on Instagram and Twitter to track my progress. It won't be easy, nor may it always be fun, but I am committed to this. I am committed to myself. I am committed to imagining myself as worthy of this time, energy, and attention.
I also invite others who want to participate to do so. Together, we can "big each other up" and support each other when we feel ourselves slipping. Let's make this happen together, friends, because we are so worth it. And as great as these escape practices are, I don't want to engage in them any longer, because I want to get better...and they are inhibiting that for me.
Here's to the work. Here's to myself. Here's to #40DaysOfAffirmation
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Why "Seeing" Isn't Always Believing in Higher Education (Pecha Kucha Session)
For those who follow along on this blog, you know I have been preoccupied with mirrors as a metaphor as of late.
For those who know me, you know I am trying to overcome my own insecurities around public speaking.
For those who have done Pecha Kucha sessions, y'all know the extreme difficulty of presenting these session.
Combine all of these things together, and you get my most recent Pecha Kulcha session for the Midwest First-Year Conference, which I presented Friday, 23 September at Northern Illinois University. For folks who may not know, Pecha Kucha sessions are quick presentations of 20 images, and the presenter can only talk for 20 seconds per image. As someone who loves hir words, this is a challenge for me. However, I wanted to try and see if I could condense information without losing content and richness. Here is my attempt...
As I have come to do, I am sharing this talk, with corresponding slides, as a way to increase dialogue about topics I think are vital to the field of education, particularly higher education. I look forward to hearing folks' feedback!
Good afternoon. My name is Z Nicolazzo, and I am an assistant professor in the adult and higher education program here at NIU. My research focuses on transgender, or trans*, collegians, and I want to talk a for a little bit today about the deceptive idea that “seeing is believing.”
Many of you in the room work alongside first year students. I used to do this as well. In fact, I got my start in student leadership as an Orientation Advisor at Roger Williams University, where I completed my undergraduate degree many years ago. This is also how I developed my passion for student affairs.
When working with first year students, we often use metaphors that signal belonging and place. We talk about students as a unified “student body.” We also suggest our campuses are “one community” or “one family.” In terms of the queer students with whom I work, there is often talk about college as a chance to come out.
But what about those students who are not expected as a part of the “student body”? What about those of us whose identities are not visible, or go unrecognized (either maliciously or otherwise) by others? And what about those of us for whom it is not safe to be “out”?
These are the students who I want to speak about today. So often in student affairs, we talk about “meeting students where they are at.” Well, what if we don’t know where they are at because their showing up or being “out” is unsafe and/or goes unrecognized? Because “seeing” isn’t always believing.
It is my belief that in student affairs, we succumb to what I have started to call the hegemony of visibility. Put another way, we as educators far too often wait for students to come out or make themselves visible to us before we begin constructing equitable and just college environments.
And when we rely on this hegemony of visibility, we privilege the narratives, experiences, and voices of those with dominant identities. When talking about queer and trans* youth, this means all we “see” is White, cisgender, able-bodied queerness, or those who have less barriers to being “out and proud.”
The hegemony of visibility is predicated on the replication of systemic oppression. Put another way, because being out is often unsafe for people with multiple marginalized identities or those of us who are between identities, like non-binary folks, those of us who become educators are often folks who are safer being out.
Moreover, those of us who “don’t fit” the notion of being a part of the “student body” are policed out of education. For example, Monica Jones, a student at Arizona State University, was arrested on the erroneous charge of “manifesting prostitution,” which is often discussed as “walking while trans*.”
So you may be asking, “What does this have to do with mirrors?” Simply put, students are not always a reflection of our conventional beliefs of race, gender, sexuality, ability, and various other identities. Seeing is not always believing. Being out or visible is a privilege that is not equally distributed across populations.
This thinking brings with it many questions. What does that mean for our work with first year students? How does this change the way we welcome students to college campuses? What does this mean for interacting with students, or creating programming and constructing college environments?
Thankfully, we have resources that can help us answer these questions. Dean Spade, a critical legal scholar, talks about trickle up activism. I have translated this to higher education environments to think about the work we must do as educators for those who are most vulnerable.
Trickle up activism, or what I have called trickle up education, means framing all education we do for those who are most on the margins. This may mean constructing programming and educational initiatives for those we do not “see” and those who may be unable to gain access to our campuses.
In centering those who are most vulnerable, we create educational environments, and invest in educational epistemologies, that see liberation as a collective process. Because that which works to liberate those who are most on the margins will garner rights that trickle up to more privileged populations.
The first step in doing trickle up education is to begin to unlearn the gender binary discourse that saturates our campuses. How we deconstruct programs, environments, policies, and the very way we think, which is largely framed through the false notion that gender is, and can only be, a binary between men and women.
To unlearn this gender binary discourse, I suggest we invest in what I have termed an epistemology of love where we open our minds to who people are and who they may become. We must also stop assuming who we see is all of who someone is or who they can or may desire to become.
When we hold our spaces, our minds, and our hearts open to other people and all our complex possibilities, we do the work of liberation. We trade in one conventional mirrored view for embracing various possible unknown or unknowable futures. We recognize that “seeing” isn’t always believing. We resist the hegemony of visibility.
We have a unique opportunity with first year students. We have a chance to develop more complex and nuanced campus environments and discourses that encourage identity exploration, compassion, and individual and group resilience. We can do this if we resist the idea that students are just as we think we see them.
I appreciate your time this afternoon. I know you have had long days. However, I would like you to do one more thing: please join me in about twenty seconds of reflection for those trans* people, largely trans* women of color, who continue to be targeted and killed for their gender and race.
I am somewhere between Long Beach and DeKalb, 30,000 or so feet above the ground. I have just spent a week with one of my very best friends and his husband. Not only is he one of my best friends, but as I reminded him this week, he has been my longest friend, with our friendship spanning almost half of my life. We laughed about this, recognizing that we are getting older. But we are getting older together, and that gave me a sense of calm as we reflected on our friendship and what it meant this past week.
Being with my friend and his husband felt…good. These are truly people I can just be with; not something that happens with everyone. We never feel the need to put on airs, and we allow each other grace in a way that feels rewarding, comforting, and a signal of what I want from all my relationships. I begin to realize I could very well end up in California; I daydream of what that would look like, actually. The weather, the people, and the lifestyle remind me of all I loved about my time in the Southwest, and I get nostalgic for the beauty of the desert, the smell after a monsoon rain, and finding again that place where the sky and ocean merge into one as the sun sets over the water.
And yet, as I am flying home, I am contending with some feelings of loneliness. These feel sharp and visceral. I am not meant to feel this way, especially after the week I just experienced. I am not meant to feel this way when I have some of the most beautiful, loving, compassionate, and dear family. It makes no sense as I head home to see my dog and another dear dear friend, both of whom are in DeKalb. In many ways, this feeling makes no sense.
But in many other ways, it makes perfect sense. And in many other ways, I can see how this feeling of loneliness is built, maintained, and impacts various people—especially those of us with marginalized identities—throughout higher education and student affairs (HESA). While I am sure the same happens in various other disciplines, I am mindful of my own positioning and conversations I have had with some close friends about our field, which is why I situate this commentary in HESA, recognizing there will likely be carry over.
This loneliness is not new, nor is it just personal. I felt it most acutely this past spring when I went to a higher education and student affairs conference. I felt oddly focused on, and heard multiple comments like, “Oh, I saw you in the hotel lobby earlier today,” or, “Oh yeah, your work is really great,” or, “I just wanted to come meet you.” These comments make me feel uncomfortable for multiple reasons. First, as a non-binary trans* femme, hearing I am being clocked and placed in certain locations at certain times is disconcerting. Why is this important for someone to point out? All this does is make me feel like more of an oddity, and remind me how I am non-compliant with the gender binary discourse (Nicolazzo, 2016) that marks me as impossible and unexpected in HESA (Jourian, Simmons, Devaney, 2015).
As an early-career scholar, I am mindful that much “my work” has yet to be published. Furthermore, I am under no false impressions about the readership of those pieces which have been published. So what is it people are saying they have “read”? Have they just read my name in the table of contents of a journal? Is this just something people are saying because they feel like it will make a good impression? Is this the manifestation of the culture of nice that pervades our field? And if so, how does the furthering of a culture of nice actually reify and further distance us from one another? How is my work, which people have apparently read, substituted for actual human connection and conversation? Even if people have read my work—which would be nice and the whole purpose behind my writing it—why do people feel the need to lead with telling me this?
As someone who is incredibly shy, and who is an extreme introvert—especially at conferences, which is also likely a practice of resilience for me as a trans* person in a world steeped in trans* oppression—I am wary of people who “just want to meet me.” Hearing this makes me feel like an oddity again. It makes me feel like people are checking my name off a Scholar-Practitioner Bingo sheet they made up for all the people they wanted “to meet” at conference, which seems code for saying hi and not making personal investments in each other. These remarks rarely seem to lead to substantive conversation, and I end them feeling a bit hollow, as if I have been met, but I have no idea by whom. They leave me feeling like only one person between the two of us got what they wanted, which was a bit of “me,” or the me they want to know about, anyway.
In thinking about my loneliness, and the perpetuation of loneliness through (not) seeing certain people as actual people throughout HESA, I am aware that I am guilty of doing this, too. I begin to feel like shit. But I also realize I have the ability to correct some of this as a faculty member. I begin to see connections between my own experience of loneliness in HESA and a broader culture where people and experiences and identities are commodified in our field, to the detriment of those of us with marginalized identities. I recognize how my loneliness is a signal for the broader cultural effects of how we are consumed as marginalized scholars, and I feel the need to write about it. Perhaps this is to assuage some of my guilt about my role in this whole cultural phenomenon. Perhaps I am seeking some sort of absolution. And perhaps I also think that by writing about it, I can connect my experiences with others, and with a cultural phenomenon that I see playing out in our field. Perhaps this will cut some of the loneliness. Perhaps, though, it will become yet another artifact that people can tell me they read so as to create the guise of a connection when they do not actually want to “see” me. This is a risk I am willing to take.
I have participated in not recognizing scholars’ lives. I have done this recently. I have positioned some scholars as “untouchable,” and have gushed about their scholarship. Yes, I have read their work, and I have engaged with their ideas; however, the way I have equated them with their scholarship, as if this is the totality of who they are, and all they want to talk about/embody, now makes me queasy.
I have also been in classrooms where students have talked about scholars—friends of mine, some of them—as if they are their writing. I want to talk with students about not confusing one’s scholarship with their life. I want to provide a more complex narrative of how writing works, and that while much of our experiences and identities may be implicated in our work, that we ourselves are not the pages we write. I want to say this, and to talk about what it means to consume one’s work, as if by doing so, we are the “good White people,” the Tiffanies (Thompson, 2003), and we are free from guilt, shame, or further perpetuating systemic oppression. But I never know how to start that conversation, or if it is “appropriate,” or what students will make of it, and so I collude by choking back the words. I know the acrid feeling of swallowing those words is also tinged by the budding realization that, although I am just doing what I love, I may well be positioned as one of “those scholars” who people want to “meet.”
My mind wanders back to all the cisgender people who have approached me at conferences to tell me I am “so brave.” I think about the person who asked to take a photo with me after multiple sessions last year, but who did not engage me in actual conversation about my work, my ideas, or how we can work together to transform higher education environments. I become confused again by what that picture symbolized, or how the posting of it on social media marks me and that person as “having a connection.” I wonder what that “connection” means, because it feels more like a disconnection to me. I sit back in my seat and am again glad I deleted my Facebook account.
And then there are those connections with scholars that feel real. Like when I shared jokes with a well-known scholar about how we each thought the other was cute. Or when a scholar and I shared pictures of our dogs over Twitter. Or when a scholar and I talk about her fear of flying, and our shared exhaustion at “being seen” at conferences. Or when I have coffee with one of my good friends early in the morning after she comes back from a morning run before a full conference day. Or when I go off-site for a queer and trans* dinner with my friends, where we can be far from the cis/het-normative conference life. Or the every-other-week Skype calls I have had for the past three years with one of my dear friends, where we talk about the mundane nature of our lives as well as what we are grappling with intellectually.
I remember that these human connections, and these moments of humanity, do in fact exist. I have witnessed and felt these.
It seems painfully clear to me that, as a field, we have some severe confusion about who each other is. We have some idea that one’s work and life are the exact same thing, that one’s work equates to one’s personhood. We have swallowed and are performing neoliberalism. We have cultivated a celebrity culture in HESA that encourages distance rather than closeness. This celebrity culture also oozes over those of us with marginalized identities, as people clamor to “connect” with us. Sometimes these connections are real; this blogpost is not about those few connections. However, a bulk of the time, those “connections” are predicated on one’s desire to absolve one’s majoritarian-based guilt, as if someone’s being “connected” to me means they no longer collude in trans* oppression. The reality, however, is that by making these false connections, one may actually be colluding in the very systemic oppression one is seeking to “get over” by “connecting” with me in the first place.
I chuckle as I think about the scene in Reality Bites where Winona Ryder’s character is asked what the definition of irony is as the elevator doors close on her before she can answer.
So I am still here, 30,000 feet above the ground, somewhere between Long Beach and DeKalb. And now I am thinking about how my loneliness may connect to so many other people in our field who I know are also lonely. I know our shared loneliness is about a lot of different things, but I also know that going to conferences exacerbates this loneliness for many, that when people consume our time, our identities, and our experiences through their seeking proximity to us, that we leave these spaces feeling drained. We leave them feeling unseen, and used. I, for one, leave them feeling deep confusion, because I don’t even know my own place in our field, so for someone to suggest that being “connected” to me is meaningful is discombobulating, indeed.
And then I feel vain. And I feel guilty. And I feel gross and weird even writing about this, because I know I am far more than any of my identities, and I am far more than my scholarship. And then I feel angry, because when people tell me I “publish so much,” they aren’t recognizing the way that trans* and femme and trans* femme-phobia manifest culturally, which means I literally have to publish more to even have a shot at being seen as legitimate, and that the very notion of “legitimacy” is completely cis-, hetero-, and masculine-normative, and that I will never be seen as legitimate because I will always be deemed as the “angry tranny.” And then I get mad, and then sad, as I remember a conversation via Twitter yesterday with two Black women where we talked about the shared experience of being positioned as “angry,” “feisty,” and “fierce,” which we know are all code words, and that these depictions of us are rooted in a sense of our not being human enough to just have opinions worthy of being recognized on their own.
I feel this post has gotten away from me. I can see all these disparate threads coming together, but they feel too weighty and too unwieldy to hold. I am not sure what this post will do, and worry that by posting it, I will get platitudes from people who don’t see me. I don’t want that.
Let me repeat: I don’t want that.
I want to call attention to the massive problem I see in our field where we say we value human connection, but we act in ways that promote disconnection. I want to draw connections between loneliness as a feeling and our (in)actions as people in a field devoted to human development. I want to discuss how my (our?) feelings of loneliness are endemic to our very work, and cannot be easily washed away by a week with our nearest and dearest. I want to talk about how these everyday utopias (Cooper, 2013) are, by their very definition, retreats rather than escapes. We always come back from those utopian spaces into worlds and cultures and broader communities that devour our very being, pick apart our identities, and feast on who they think we are so they can feel better about their own lives.
The fall term is coming up for us all in HESA. I wonder how we will orient ourselves to one another this year. I wonder if it will be different. I wonder if conference spaces—and by proxy, our field—will continue to feel isolating to me.
I hope not. I will do my best to surround myself with family while in these spaces, and I will remember to talk with all the students with whom I teach and learn about the fact that we as scholars are all people. I will Skype people into class, realizing that this practice is not only educationally useful, but can be humanizing as well. I smile thinking about the video conferencing I have done where I have gotten silly with classes, and although I felt weird about that at the moment, I feel good about it now. I think about picking up my dog during Google Hangout sessions, and while that was so she would stop hounding me to pay attention to her, I like the glimpse into my mundane life that it gave the students on the other end of the video call.
And then I realize I am heading home to my dog—my heart—and I feel just a bit less lonely for the moment.
I shared what I didn’t want from this post, but have not discussed what I do want. So let me be clear on that point:
I want for us all to really interrogate what it means to be “connected” to people in our field.
I want for people to truly connect with each other, rather than “connecting.” If the desire to connect is not there, then just let it be. Platitudes aren’t necessary or appreciated.
I want for people to stop clocking folks with marginalized identities; we already know we stick out, and your telling us doesn’t help.
I want for people to never call me brave again.
I want for people to resist and reframe celebrity culture in HESA, and actually spend time interrogating why it is some people are positioned as “celebrities” in the first place.
I want for people to think about how identity-based consumption is a manifestation of systemic oppression.
I want to continue to focus on the people and communities who see me, and don’t suggest I am someone to be seen (with).
I feel better. As Sara Ahmed (2012) noted, sometimes writing about the hurts we experience, about the brick walls we bump up against, is itself an act of healing. Perhaps writing autoethnographically can be a form of resistance to hegemonic ways of seeing, being, and doing in our field. Perhaps this can be one way of reorienting our field toward humanity and an epistemology of love (hooks, 2000; Nicolazzo, 2016, In press; Palmer & Zajonc, 2010).
Ahmed, S. (2012). On being included: Racism and diversity in institutional life. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Cooper, D. (2013). Everyday utopias: The conceptual life of promising spaces. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
hooks, b. (2000). All about love: New visions. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.
Jourian, T.J., Simmons, S. L., & Devaney, K. (2015). "We are not expected": Trans* educators (re)claiming space and voice in higher education and student affairs. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 2(3), 431-446.
Palmer, P. J., & Zajonc, A. (2010). The heart of higher education: A call to renewal. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Nicolazzo, Z (In press). Trans* in college: Transgender students’ strategies for navigating campus life and the institutional politics of inclusion. Sterling, VA: Stylus.
Nicolazzo, Z (2016). "Just go in looking good": The resilience, resistance, and kinship-building of trans* college students. Journal of College Student Development, 57(5), 538-556.
Thompson, A. (2003). Tiffany, friend of people of color: White investments in antiracism. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 16(1), 7-29.
Today started out a bit of a rubbish day. Because of the time zone difference between where I currently am (Sweden) and where my U.S. fam are, I learned about the tragic murder of Goddess Diamond. Y'all, I just need the murder of my beautiful trans* sisters of color to fucking stop.
This blog is a space where I share my thoughts on trans*-related issues. I also will share my own research as it develops, including papers, presentations, and the development of my dissertation study with trans* college students.