Stop “whiting-out” racism

Wednesday I was listening to a discussion about white privilege. When presenters would bring up situations where they hurt suomeonewit racist actions or remarks, they called the situations “mistakes.”

The conversation did not make me feel uncomfortable in the way it should have to provoke my development, but the continued use of the word “mistakes” and discussion of “whiteness” as it affects white people made me very uncomfortable. (Note: the whiteness of white people affects all people who are not white. That’s who best understands whiteness. We white people are products of our white privilege but do not get to “woe is me and my ignorant state of whiteness”). This proves we white people have to learn how to respond and properly classify situations when we allow our privilege to interfere with our civilized behavior.

When you are racist, you hurt someone. You perpetuate by example what you did, which is racism.

Let’s pause here. Note I said, “When you are racist…” This does not mean you have to have ill-intent or identify as a racist to be racist. You could be completely ignorant of the situation or how your actions are racist, but this does not give you a pass.

When you are called out on your racism, do not be defensive. Take a breath. This person is telling you how you were hurtful to them or someone else. They don’t want an apology, but a simple, “I am sorry for (racist behavior) and should be a better example” is a good start. It is a good start. You need to work with the individual(s) you hurt to repair that relationship.

If you are called out in a group setting, own up to your  behavior, ask the person if you could talk further after the session, and move on. Maybe you did not mean to be hurtful, but you need to know how to avoid being hurtful to people in the future.

These are not “mistakes” they are situations in which you hurt another human being by insulting their identity. Call them for what they are, stop calling them “mistakes,” and understand what to do when you are called out.



ACPA Experience

Whew! I’m home now from the 2014 ACPA Convention in Indianapolis and I’m exhausted. The past 4 days were packed with learning, making new connections, and catching up with old friends. What a great time we all had collaborating and sharing our progress and research on topics. I was fortunate enough to share my dissertation research with the ACPA community. I was overwhelmed by the attendance in my session and very appreciative of those choosing to spend time in my session. Overall we had a positive conversation about making students with disabilities feel more welcome on our campuses.

Inside Higher Ed ran an article on the session, and while I don’t agree with the hook they used:


it is good to get the information out and more people in on the conversation.

In the session I asked fellow student affairs folks to consider some action items to tackle when they got to their home campus. I am invigorated by what the people plan to do!

Also, at the closing session today, I received some very poignant words from Brené Brown:

If you are not in the arena and also getting your ass kicked, I am not open to your feedback.

If someone else is in the game with you, listen and appreciate what they have to say, good and bad. If they’re not contributing to the knowledge at large, challenge them to step up to contribute, but ultimately appreciate the risk you took in sharing knowledge and dismiss their feedback.

I encourage you all to get out there, research, tackle those complex situations and always keep Brené’s wise words in minds.

View my presentation from the ACPA Convention below or download ACPA 2014 Presentation Jackie Koerner in pdf.

The Big Day

I’m terribly excited about my presentation in about an hour. I am not nervous at all – only very excited to share this information I have found with others in hopes they will be able to change the outcome for students with disabilities on their respective campuses. I cannot wait for the whole dissertation to be finished so I can share it with the whole world! Well, the part of the world willing to read it.

Hello ACPA

Hello all from ACPA! I have neglected my site for the most part due to dissertation (well, except when snapping pics of the cats while procrastinating on said dissertation). I’m just going to recap some of the energy from the first day:

Good discussion about being Flawsome.
Take it in stride and own up to your mistakes. It’s better in the end, and frankly people like you better if you’re ok with being human.

Met lots of fun people at CelebrACPA.
Music was a bit loud for networking, but we worked it out. 🙂 excited to be more involved with my interest areas and MoCPA.

Safe Spaces or Zones for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
These spaces are devoid of harsh environmental stimuli (fluorescent lighting, loud noises, etc.) and complete with a staff member trained on how to assist students who might need them if they are over stimulated or just overwhelmed by something on campus. Great retreat spaces for students to process the experience they just had.

Masculinity and Disability
Great discussion not only about masculinity and disability but about many things: being human, accepting of others and their mistakes, appreciating people for moving in a different path than we would choose. Finally, discussing the common practice of “removing” people with disability from gender.

Now, I’m off to a coffee and to check out my room for my presentation tomorrow! If you’re here, come to Marriott Indiana G at 10:30 April 1. Students with Disabilities Persisting Through Higher Education: Their Perspective.