This week’s conversation was a continuation of the theories and ideas we started last week. Except in today’s class it too on a different, yet inspirational tone. We were talking about abuse, and how women are abused sometimes and coerced into giving up on following their dreams. A familiar yet understated thought came up. Abuse is not actual physical violence, beating or aggression towards women. It goes down to everyday life with the overflow of the idea that women are different than men; they don’t and shouldn’t have as much freedom, they should ask permission to do whatever it is they want to do, including following their dreams. That made me stop and reflect about that. As a woman growing up in Egypt, this ideology has manifested in our society so much that sometimes I forget it’s there. Any patriarchal society by nature and definition abuses women in one of the worst and most hurtful forms of abuse there it; the control of imagination and the mind. I have unfortunately been a victim of such abuse by the society and male members of my family for so long, without even knowing it. See this is what I really like about this class; the discussions we have make me realize, reflect and relate to my own life (whether that’s personally or professionally). And being the person that I am who likes to take every opportunity to learn from, I have been deeply affected by the ideas and conversations that have come up in our group over the past few weeks. As much as it sometimes opens my eyes to the negative reality of our society today, it also immensely gives me insight on how to make it better, how to resist abuse whether that is on a social or personal level, how to take control over my own life and be in power, a word we have been repeatedly discussing.
We’ve also spoken about racism and stereotypes with their different types. Such as passive racism for example, which caught my attention. Passive racism comes in a lot of forms but to quote Dr. Cossa, ”
- Irrelevance: “as long as it doesn’t affect me, I will leave it be”
- Powerlessness: “I see the problem and I don’t like what I see, but what can I do? This is how things have been and how things are…it’s the nature of the business…who am I to think I can change anything? [Cossa]
Doesn’t this open your mind to the possibility that you might be contributing to the perpetuation of racism? The fact that you don’t actively do something to battle overt and clear racism makes you a culprit. This hit me hard, because a lot of the times I could think “if it doesn’t affect me, then it’s not my problem” but that should not be the case. I should strive to eradicate racism, even if it’s not directed at me. This is what I mean when I say this course is empowering it, because it opens my eyes to facts that I wasn’t aware of and makes me realize that I can actually make a change by just changing my mindset and the way I have always been taught, and it challenges certain aspects of the society that I have accepted at face value when in reality I should have been challenging and resisting.
The discourse on racism reminded me of my undergraduate graduation project. We did an awareness campaign on tolerance. The main idea behind it was to expose the acts of intolerance that people in Egypt do, when they themselves are the same people who say they are tolerant and accepting of difference in individual identities, ideologies and religions. It was a controversial topic but it had to be done, it had to be said out loud and made very clear how people are not aware of their racism and intolerance towards individuals in our society. So this idea of passive racism is not new to me, yet the terminology certainly is.
In a short reflection on the book review process so far, we touched upon learning styles and how this course has made me aware of what kind of learner I am and what other kids of learning styles there are. We also reflected on how we are in our journeys in the course so far. I feel like I am on track to reaching my destination in this journey and I am very grateful for that. I started this course, and the program form that matter, without knowing what to expect and I was okay with that, I was okay and still am okay with not expecting anything because only then do you truly and deeply learn the things you were supposed to learn AND those that you were “meant” to learn.
Anyway, I just want to say that the amount of knowledge and benefit from the readings and the material we are exposed to in this course is major for me. I use the theories, philosophies and concepts in the readings at work and even in my other course. They help me understand things better at work, in that there are different learning and teaching styles and in me applying these concepts to the workshops I design and give to faculty at work. They give me a well-rounded framework to think through about other readings and material I interact with.
More later 🙂