Fall 2017 Student Reflection
The reason why I applied for A Different Dialogue is because I grew up never really talking about race and in a society heavily invested in ‘colorblindness’ which I’ve come to realize is a falsehood. I knew that moving to the States, I wouldn’t be able to ignore my blackness as much as I had in the past and pretend like it didn’t affect my experiences. My experiences of racism in the UK were mainly micro-aggressions, but I knew that that in the US racism manifested itself in much more overt ways. This scared me but I didn’t want to be silenced by my fear. I was tired of being naïve about race and racism – being black didn’t necessarily mean I was woke or could clearly articulate how I felt about racial issues.
A Different Dialogue created a safe space for me to talk candidly about race and my experiences as a black woman; reflect and realize that my socioeconomic privilege didn’t protect me as much as I thought it had. It was really great to learn about people’s backgrounds through their personalized ‘Where I’m from’ poems and the other icebreakers we participated in. We also discussed racial concepts such as colorism, white privilege and intersectionality. Learning about this last element made me aware of how my overlapping identities as a black woman affected my experience of racism and sexism.
It was also really interesting when we explored whether there was a hierarchy of oppression. This inspired a lot of self-reflection on my part; as I was led to question whether I was guilty of belittling other people’s struggles; it reminded me that I should be sensitive to other minorities –oppression is not a competition. We should stand in solidarity with one another. We also tried to define race and ethnicity; and at the end of the sessions, I think we generally agreed that race is a social construct used to divide and subjugate people of color and ethnicity is about culture and nationality.
Thank you to Carolina and Hockaday; didn’t only choose readings that aligned with our beliefs but readings that challenged us and pushed us to self -reflect. Thank you to the awesome people with whom I shared a different dialogue with; you guys were all so open and candid and I learnt so much from all of you. Its been lovely getting to know you!
– Eliza Phillips, COL’, 2021