Symbols Matter

When I think of all of the concepts I teach (or try to), there is one that is the clear ‘winner’ because of its difficulty in achieving student acceptance and understanding: Privilege. Sure, students aren’t always quick to pick up the building blocks of semiotics or how arguments are formally made, but privilege beats them all. How do you help a white, straight, Christian male understand that he has always had a societal privilege when he grew up poor? When his parents were abusive? A lot of the time, there is an anger about other elements in his life that blind him to understanding that privilege doesn’t mean “absence of all trouble or strife.” How do you explain to the white, straight, Christian female that she has privilege? How do you explain that when she says, “I don’t see color. I love everyone.” that she does, in fact, see color? That she benefits from a system that privileges her life over that of her non-straight, non-Christian, non-white neighbors? When she mentions that her Black neighbors are nice even though they don’t really talk, but she loves them anyway, she’s seeing the color she wants everyone (including herself) to believe she’s not affected by.

A recent change on Facebook, may be one of the best tools to emerge to help teach students about privilege.

How We Changed the Facebook Friends Icon


Needs for a New Week

There used to be a secret sender of motivational messages on the Columbia College campus. Every so often you would see positive messages peppered across the campus bulletin boards. I haven’t seen any in a long time, so maybe I should start posting good messages to help keep me (and others) on track for the new week.

Always remember, flight is a distinct possibility.



This Week in History

So. Yeah. Today. This week. This century. This life. Wow. This is probably going to be a long post, so you may want to go ahead and skip over this. Some of you will read it and I thank you for giving my thoughts a little bit of your time. In the past week, a Southern, conservative Republican Governor said that the battle flag of the Northern Virginia Army should no longer fly in front of the South Carolina State House. I never imagined that would happen. But sweet hell, it took nine people to be killed after a Bible study for it to happen. ‘Confederate’ flags are being removed from flagpoles and store shelves. Y’all, this is–as my Joey B. would say–a big f*cking deal. And then yesterday? The Supreme Court decreed that the Affordable Care Act wasn’t going anywhere. This directly impacts me and it’s so reassuring. There are so many of you that can breathe easier, literally and figuratively, because of that decision. And then came this morning… I couldn’t help but think of Chance Pennington after learning of the news. Chance was the first openly gay person I actually came to know. There were surely folks I went to school with that were gay, but in the 1980s, they were in the closet. Even at Ohio State, I didn’t know anyone who was out. And then I transferred to the college my parents went to, Morehead State University, and in the hills of eastern Kentucky I met Chance. I’ll never know the struggles he had, but I’m glad l learned so much from his mere presence in my life. It wasn’t until I learned about the drive-thru wedding chapels in Las Vegas that I really started to understand my straight privilege. I can be married in a drive-thru. A drive-thru. How’s that for the sanctity of traditional marriage? Now, anyone can get married in a drive-thru. 😉 My facebook feed has been so colorful today and I’ve cried so many happy tears. At this moment, I believe the world isn’t totally screwed up. You know it won’t last long with me, this positivity. But for now, it’s real. As they sang “It is Well with My Soul” in Charleston today, I know that so many hearts and souls are well and full and happy. “Now we see as in a mirror, in an allegory, but then face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I shall know as I am known. For there are these three things that endure: Faith, Hope and Love, but the greatest of these is Love.” (1 Corinthians 12-13) Love is a really big deal.