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"We Stand Together" Promotes Understanding and Collaborative Advocacy at UW

Feb 6, 2017

Last month's "We Stand Together" Racial Justice Teach-In was a timely and powerful event that I am thankful for having the opportunity to attend. Coming off of the heels of the 2017 presidential election, it was difficult to process emotions and thoughts while still maintaining day-to-day responsibilities. I decided to attend the UW Racial Justice Teach-In in order to gain insight into navigating the changed campus climate and develop ideas on how I could potentially use my position as an academic adviser to offer support. I have attended diversity and social justice related professional trainings but none of them elicited the feelings of solidarity, empowerment, and urgency like this one did.

The message of solidarity was apparent in both content and in attendance. Participants and speakers at this Teach-In included undergraduates, graduates, faculty, and staff — a message in itself that we do not need to be doing this work in silos. It was a humbling reminder that we should engage in these conversations together and call each other in, rather than call each other out.

This experience helped me move past my initial reactions of numbness and uncertainty and move to a more productive place. I felt empowered to help students process their own reactions and encourage them to engage in constructive dialogue with themselves, their peers, their instructors, and their families. This is the form of advocacy I feel most comfortable and prepared to do but also plan to advocate in ways beyond my comfort zone.

There were multiple moments throughout the day where a feeling of urgency surfaced in the room. Urgency to begin taking action to support all marginalized groups together rather than inaction due to feeling insecure about our personal knowledge or experience supporting various causes. I found this incredibly refreshing because it often feels that we get stuck in trying to advocate the "right way" for causes individually rather that collaborating across marginalized populations. Even if our advocacy work is not perfect, the sentiment was simply to try. Try to be more self-aware, kinder to others, and courageous about speaking out against injustice. 

Read more about the Jan 13 "We Stand Together" Teach In HERE