the “free speech zone” is tough

In my class I’ve been working so hard to establish a “free speech zone,” but I think I goofed up when I pressed a student for evidence to back up some claims that police brutality is the same as it always has been. I believe I inhibited the students’ feeling of not being judged rather than making the “zone” a safe place. It’s a fine balance between free speech with rebuttal and “chilling” a conversation, which by definition has to allow dissent even when the topic is uncomfortable. I’m still trying to negotiate that fine line. Hopefully, this class of freshmen writers, which has been VERY enthusiastic, beyond all my expectations, will continue to feel the class is open and that they can explore their first attempts at reasoning on issues, no matter how tentative and perhaps uninformed, without feeling silenced. I’m committed to this pedagogy, but it’s hard to do sometimes.

what does it mean to be colorblind?

When asked about their approach to race in America, many people will claim they are color-blind, meaning that issues of race simply don’t exist in their world view. At a recent diversity conference I attended I learned the following concepts to consider about the “color-blind” claim:

  • The vast majority who claim to be color-blind or completely neutral in regard to race are white.
  • A definition of “color-blind” is: “To claim that race is not important, even in those situations where race is important.
  • Correlated with the claim of racial colorblindness is the increase in what is known as “micro-aggression.” Micro-aggression can be defined as “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership.” generally happening below the level of awareness of well-intentioned members of the dominant culture. The result of micro-aggressions to those exposed to them are an increase of feeling discriminated against. It has been called “the new face of racism.”

It seems to me when whites claim that race is not an issue in their lives, the problem is that  the group historically the most racist and privileged in our society is now claiming race doesn’t matter and they are cleansed from any and all taint of racism. The danger is it is a form of denial which prevents the real work of eliminating racism and sexism from continuing as it prevents the issue from being discussed truthfully and openly. Rather, it becomes a subtle way of condoning and continuing social racism.


It has been a real bummer not playing music lately. I was talking with the head of the music dept last week about quite something else, and she also happened to have graded my flute juries when I was studying at IUS, and happened to mention how you lose your chops when you don’t practice. Of course I know that but it always helps to hear it from someone else, so yesterday morning I played some flute and was surprised at how good the tone was and how fairly easy the high register was, except I was also embarrassed I forgot how to finger high A & B and had to look it up.

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