N.A.H. Rewind: The Best of 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, here are the most visited notes from the year:

20. In Dialogue, “Ground Rules” Are Meant To Be Liberatory

“Many of us are accustomed to debate; to feeling pushed against a wall, and feeling the need to push back in return, and at times that dynamic is brought into dialogic spaces, but dialogue cannot be had unless we as facilitators co-create the space with participants that are conducive to it. One way to co-create that space is through the establishment of “ground rules” or guidelines.”

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19. Considering Age As A Shared Identity Creates Opportunities for Empathy

“Moving from a framework that devalues folks based on age to one that appreciates them; moving from a framework that assumes that “we have it” based on our age and perspective, to one that recognizes that generationally, each of us has knowledge and strengths to contribute as well as things to learn from each other can open the door for affirming inter-generational exchanges. Getting there will involve us examining ourselves.”

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18. Intragroup Reflections: Survival in Higher Ed is Important, But So is Moving The Needle

For me, with acknowledging the sacrifices that were made, and are made, it will always be important to ask the critical question of, when we get into those positions of authority and influence that folks sacrificed for; where we can hire, fire, make policies, change policies, be visible, etc, to what degree are our actions reinforcing or disrupting the barriers that created the conditions that our ancestors struggled with? To what degree are our actions reinforcing or disrupting the barriers that create the conditions that our students and colleagues currently face?

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17. 3 Ideas for Goal-Setting This New Year

“I’m not one to make new year’s resolutions, but here are a few ideas for creating meaningful opportunities for self-reflection.”

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16. A Tip for Socially Just Supervision: Incorporate Intersectional Feminist Praxis

“…committing to ongoing critical self-reflection for social change is incredibly important for leaders; with the “critical” piece meaning, to the greatest degree possible, approaching our work through a lens of the acknowledgement of the roles power and privilege play in all aspects of the work. It also involves moving beyond acknowledgement and toward actively disrupting oppressive systems.”

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15. For Educators: Immigration Syllabus

“A result of the collective efforts of immigration historians, you would do well to explore this timely and necessary resource from the Immigration History Resource Center at the University of Minnesota in partnership with the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.”

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14. Context

“One of the valuable gifts that dialogue can provide is context; the kind of context that can help us to question our perceptions, and to learn that others thinking can inform our own. We don’t all have to agree on opinions or ideology in order for dialogue to take place. What we do need to agree on however, is a commitment to learn from each other and communicate in caring ways.”

Visit the full post.

13. Trans 101: A Resource for Support


“Visit trans101.org.au for the remaining 5 videos in this series, as well as to download the booklet that accompanies the videos.

As an additional resource, check out this google doc with resources for Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming People as compiled by Ahya Simone.”

Visit the full post.

12. “Where Do I Start?”: Resources for Social Justice Education

Dr. Kimberly McKee has curated a list of resources for those searching for an entryway into learning about whiteness, “colorblind” racism, the experiences of people of color in higher education, and a variety of other social justice topics.”

Visit the full post.

11. 6 Reasons Colleges and Universities Need to Face Race and Not Ignore It

“In a talk on campus climate in a post-election era, Dr. Shaun Harper shared a number of themes that arose from his over 10 years of experience evaluating the campus climate of institutions across the country. I took some rough notes on a few of them that I’ll share here.”

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10. Fear

“Overcoming fear of others recognizing that we aren’t developed in some way is a huge as a roadblock and continues to be a recurring challenge in social justice work. Individuals and institutions can go to great lengths to cover up that reality because of fear. Letting go can be liberating.”

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9. Identity

For a profession whose educational curriculum by description focuses on power and privilege; that professes its commitment to empowering those who are marginalized and oppressed, there is still much self-reflective work that needs to be done to examine in impactful ways how systems of power and privilege are infused into the policies and practices of the field of Social Work which ultimately hinder and contradict the stated goals of the field.

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8. Community

“…genuine community is often forged through struggle, and that building real community often involves being open to receiving feedback from one another in ways that may affirm us, but also in ways that may challenge our worldviews, highlight our complicity with oppression, and show us a way towards truer solidarity and action. That is, if we can get over ourselves and be open to receiving the message.”

Visit the full post.

7. January 5th, 2017

“I hadn’t done anything wrong, but years of personal and societal messaging and lived experiences have taught me that a presumed assumption of guilt is often attached to my Blackness, and as a result has made it absolutely necessary to develop a kind of vigilance that is not experienced universally across humanity.

This presumption of guilt is not concerned with how positive I feel about myself. It is not concerned with the way I speak, the clothes I’m wearing, or some other victim-blaming factorsthat ultimately absolve white supremacy of any responsibility.”

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6. Overwhelmed

“Putting marginalized folks who fight for their own and others’ lives on a pedestal; expecting unwavering shows of “strength” and resolve further dehumanizes them in that it ignores imperfections, and invalidates any fears or feelings of uncertainty that exist.

In reality, it’s okay to be angry. It’s understandable to feel afraid. It’s okay to find ways to take care of yourself.”

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5. Toxic Masculinity

“… adhering so closely to those rules and expectations often means wearing a mask, being fake, living a lie. The key to emancipation lies in challenging those false notions, discarding them, and making room for new ways of thinking and being. In the spirit of critical thinking, I share this old post.”

Visit the full post.

4. “Positive Vibes Only”

I don’t need “positive vibes only” folks. I need folks who are able to both hold space for, and express, a wide variety of complex human emotions.”

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3. Resources for Processing “Get Out”

“Whether you’ve seen it or not at this point, “Get Out” is not a piece of media that should be consumed without discussion and reflection.”

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2. Confronting Systems of Oppression in Higher Education

“Institutions of higher education are not exempt from the impacts of systems of oppression, nor are they blameless in perpetuating those systems. Building more equitable communities requires a commitment to be critical of the structures and ourselves. In recognition of this ongoing work I share two articles for digestion, reflection, and action.”

Visit Confronting Systems of Oppression in Higher Education.

1. White People: Increase Your Racial Stamina: Take The Pledge

“In her paper describing 11 Ways White America Avoids Taking Responsibility for its Racism, Dr. Robin DiAngelo discusses White people being able to accept feedback as essential in the work of not only recognizing their collusion and complicity with White Supremacy and racism, but that accepting feedback is important towards finding ways to interrupt it. She describes guidelines she uses to keep herself in check. The guidelines read like a pledge, so in sharing them here I say if you’re a White person who caresI challenge you to take it, internalize it in thought and in practice, and talk to other White people about it”

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Time Tested Favorites: Here are the top 5 most visited Notes in 2017 from previous years:

5. An Open Letter to The Parents of College Students: 8 Things They Want You To Know from 2015.

4. Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian (N.A.H.) from 2011.

3Treat Others How They Want To Be Treated from 2013.

2I Am Who I Am Because of Other People from 2011.

1. 13 Compelling Social Work Blogs from 2013.

Whether you’re new to this blog, or have been with me from the very beginning, thanks for reading, listening, sharing and supporting.

More notes to come in 2018…



From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones

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Written by

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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