Learning about dedicated allies can demystify the ways that you can be the same. In this video, learn how to identify applications of the be dedicated principle and make connections in your own context.
- When we think about being dedicated, an important area to focus on is the concept of privilege. We talked about that in our fundamentals video, and here's a way that we can examine more deeply how our privileges impact our attitudes about how allyship should work. Let me share a personal story of mine. When I was in graduate school, there was a woman there who clearly didn't like me, and I made the assumption that it was because I was Black. But when I talked to her about it, she said, no, that has nothing to do with it. It's because you come in here with your Stanford sweatshirt on and you think you're so much smarter than everyone else. And I was shocked and deeply offended. I thought, well, what am I supposed to do? Pretend I didn't go to Stanford, not wear my Stanford sweatshirt? But it did get me thinking about my educational privilege. And I started to notice little ways that it came up. When I started working at Stanford, I would go around as part of my introduction and say, I'm Dereca Blackman, class of '91. And one day a woman went after me and she said, I'm such and such, and I didn't go to Stanford. Again, I felt shocked and offended. Why would she say that? But then I asked a different question. The question the dedicated allies ask. Why would I say my class year at over 40 years old when no one else was saying where they went to undergraduate? This is the level of consciousness that dedication requires. This is what it means to be an inclusive mindset ally. It means that we're constantly reflecting on the way our identities shape our biases, our prejudices. And even when we have the power to discriminate or participate in systems of oppression. This is our work, is to take a hard look at why and how we perpetuate these inequalities. Now, this is really complicated, because I have a complicated set of marginalized and privileged identities. So for instance, when my daughter started school, I always used my Stanford alumni email address for my contact information. That's because, historically African American students are greeted with lower expectations in educational environments. And I wanted to offset that system of oppression by invoking my privilege. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's right. It just means that it's complicated. So we need to think about how our own sets of identities impact the outcomes that we want to have. But privilege is not about having guilt. It's not something that's necessarily intuitively wrong to have. It's something that we have an opportunity to use to impact others. We can create a more equitable and just society when we leverage our privilege to support other people. So, while I was at Stanford, I also was the director of an office for first generation and or low income students. This gave me an opportunity to create educational access for other students from under resourced schools who may not have had the same opportunities that high income students did. Now I felt that sense of agency that even though I came from a low income background, and I wasn't low income anymore, I still could open the door for people after me to provide access and opportunity. I also had the opportunity to leverage my identity, my educational access in environments where people had lower expectations for those students. There are so many ways that you can be dedicated to using your privilege. This is the journey where you get to discover your own.