A love letter to Antioch
There is a well-documented psychological behavior known as the “backfire effect”. The backfire effect occurs when our deepest beliefs are challenged by conflicting evidence, which in turn makes us more entrenched in our ways. I myself have experienced this several times in class. I find myself pushing against the need to qualify a difference between the middle class and the upper class. For me, it’s Us and Them. Sometimes I find annoyance in my mind as we dissect what white privilege is for most of our (white class). I see the smart and bright white professors leading a discussion about racism and I feel the turmoil. And yes, these feelings bother me and I’m ashamed. I have nothing more than respect and gratitude for a community that wishes to educate and rise up against oppression. So I continue to question my story, and reframe. I also want to be an ally, I’m sick of the fear of taking up space.
As I apply to masters programs and prepare to graduate, there is debate in my heart and mind when I consider the education I have received so far in Antioch. Specifically, by learning to allow for the emotional reaction that arises from receiving new knowledge, and the time needed to digest, analyze, and challenge preconceived notions that arise in fear of these lessons. Thinking critically while disarming my own prejudices means admitting that there are shameful assumptions and willful ignorance within me. Yet staring fear in the eye and moving forward despite the discomfort that comes with learning about the race, class, social and other areas typically affected by disparity to use for the public good means confrontation. of self which I believe will lead me to be the educated ally I wish to be.
“What you don’t know, cannot hurt you” is a saying dating back to 1576, and similarly “ignorance is bliss” was born poem by Thomas Gray in the 18th century! These notions are both dated and timely four hundred years later, as awareness of our systemic and individual contribution to racism, sexism and the subjugation of power is more present in society than ever – and deliberate on the cutting edge. feet. I understand that. I have overlooked many other situations in my life, less insidious than the subject of social justice and personal responsibility. But times change, as do my attempts to feign acceptance. I do not accept. The circumstances in which I was born may seem unchanging. The ways in which I challenge them, overcome them and expel them are not. It was expressed clearly to me throughout my trip to Antioch as thinking, questioning, reconsidering, contributing and understanding. Much of the conversations we have in our classes revolve around this model, and the first step for me was to think about my own form of privilege.
It seemed like a dangerous slope towards identity with privilege. It didn’t fit my state of mind which was programmed by teachers, therapists and doctors to be lacking. This lack mentality has so far proven to be an effective deterrent for further reflection. A security blanket that once wrapped around me and covered my eyes, making me tired and complacent. The weight of that blanket has strangled my willpower and optimism, and as I work to struggle through its tight embrace, I know there has to be recognition. Recognition of the benefits I have as a Latinx white woman. Awareness of the abundance I receive from my family and community. Identification of my personal beliefs that may be rooted in the subliminal occupation of a marginalized identity.
Distinguishing between subliminal and explicit beliefs of scarcity versus abundance is painful. It is also liberating.
In Antioch, I turn towards a confirmation bias which can only be disarmed by constant vigilance. As easy as closing my eyes, focusing on information that confirms my own convictions is just as easy. As my beliefs tend to center around being a victim, it is even more important to combat the tendency to stay in this low vibration state of mind. I don’t believe that I can really support another person or group if I don’t challenge my own tendencies. So it’s true that I have privileges. And that, in turn, means that someone else has suffered more than me, as my own benefits depend on excluding someone else.
Ignorance is bliss, but consciousness is painfully satisfying. Like scratching an itch until it bleeds. Like eating another piece of cake and welcoming the stomach ache. Like seeing a lover again when the end of the trip together is long past.
It is empowering to question my long held beliefs. For so long, I just tried to survive. As I push back the blanket of ignorance, I thank her for protecting me. I am moving forward now, on a journey to become educated, aware and empathetic so that I can one day uplift my community and fight for a more equitable world with them. Because the fight came long before “me” and will continue long after me too.