Anti-Racism and the Writing Classroom:

A workbook for FYW teachers.

It’s dangerous to be vulnerable

It’s best to answer this type of question with a reminder and an invitation. Because of the intersectional nature of oppression, some colleagues do not have the choice to not be vulnerable: for ex., certain people with disabilities are compelled to disclose the in/visible disabilities to gain access to accommodations, people who speak in multiple languages are compelled to disclose through the racialization of accents; people of color cannot hide their melanin or their racialized phenotypes. Alongside this, much research on the subject consistently shows that women, and especially women of color, bear the brunt of the emotional labor of educational spaces because vulnerability is seen as gendered and imposed upon/expected from certain bodies more than others. To this end, if you have the privilege to remain not vulnerable in a particular category, you are invited to reflect on why your positionality allows for this. Danger is never going to be far from the practice of being vulnerable. An alternative way of challenging this zero-sum game is considering how more of us can work to be vulnerable, so the work is not left to the folks that have no choice but to be. Consider, then, the affordances of being vulnerable: of listening when others more marginalized speak, and call us in, rather than call us out.  Consider what we have to learn, and all of us to gain, in such moments.  Sometimes, we have to move from comfort to stretch (and not necessarily to panic) to grow.  (See Comfort, stretch and panic zones. The Anti-Racist Path.) 

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