The problem with being ‘in solidarity’
Lisa Patel is a researcher, educator, and writer. With a background in sociology, she researches and teaches about education as a site of social reproduction and as a potential site for transformation. She is an Associate Professor of Education at Boston College and works extensively with recently immigrated youth and teacher activists. Prior to working in the academy, Professor Patel was a journalist, a teacher, and a state-level policymaker. Across all of these experiences, her focus has been on the ways that education structures opportunities in society, and her daily work has been with youth who are marginalized through those structures.
Activist spaces are relatively new to me. I was raised in a home where meritocracy, individualism, and competition were more doctrine than questioned discourses. As an adult, I have situated my immigrant homespace in both my heart and schooled-up sociology mind, and I have also found chosen home spaces amongst many activists, scholarly and community-based. So it follows that I experience these activist spaces with a newcomer’s set of eyes and ears. This has meant that I have, at times, needed time to understand the nuances of what is able to be short-handed by others because they might have a working fluency with the history of important terms, such as People of Color. There have also been moments when I’ve heard a phrase or seen a way of being that while seemingly de rigeur in activist cultural spaces strikes me as off, or flat out wrong.
“In solidarity” is…
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