Letter to Reader
This guide was created by the spring 2015 cohort of the course, Writing as Social Action, and we immensely appreciate your time.
We were presented a challenge: to choose a community that at least one member of our class was a part of and use writing to create social change. As a class we immediately chose the Wheelock community to focus on, then through our passionate discussions we stumbled upon one overarching goal: To give greater voice to marginalized identities at Wheelock, especially those that intersect with race, through creative writing and campus advocacy, creating a climate of greater respect and acceptance.
Wheelock has an important mission: To improve the lives of children and families. As a class of many disciplines, we all were connected by this mission. In society today, race has been a “hot topic”, which has trickled down to the Wheelock campus. Although it is a problem affecting our campus climate, people are afraid to talk about it. Some students will say, “Race is talked about too much” or “Why does it even matter to me?” The reality is, it is impossible to talk about race too much. Many students have experienced professors who even become too uncomfortable to have these productive conversations.
To begin these conversations, it is crucial to start with self-awareness. Being aware of one’s identity gives that individual the ability to better understand others. One cannot be expected to , or capable of, connecting others if that person alone has not yet reflected on what the subject matter means to him or her. Similarly, one cannot effectively teach something that he or she has never put in the effort to learn. Paralleling this is a universal reminder that we each are both students and teachers, participants and facilitators. We all have, not only the option, but the responsibility to remain open to others’ perspectives because all opinions are honest, even if not true. Additionally, people must continue to be aware of all differences, because all of these differences are present, even if they are not apparent.
As members of the Wheelock community, we must take this challenge. Regardless of your personal hesitations, opinions, frustrations, or experience, The Advocacy Team thanks you for taking this first step in revamping the ways that race is discussed. By reading and internalizing any part of this guide, you are making great strides in social justice. Personally and socially, it is our responsibility as human beings to work towards racial equity, knowing that race (although a social construct) does contribute to all aspects of our lived experiences. Although challenging, we must rise to the expectations presented in this guide to allow for understanding of racial identity, leading to safe, inclusive, and progressive environments, where all individuals are able to participate.
The Advocacy Team