“Neutral” doesn’t exist.
WHAT: In the excerpt from Glass, he speaks about how his perspective towards social justice isn’t any different just because he’s a white man. He used his privilege to handle issues where it could be used to better a situation rather than make it worse, such as voicing his opinion out on what was wrong. He writes, “As a white person, I discovered the power of my voice to disrupt conspiracies of silence in the face of racism when I challenged the tellers of racist jokes and questioned stereotypes passed off as truth” (64). He then went on to tell a story of where he called out his basketball coach in high school on being offensive, as the coach made a comment about “losing to a bunch of niggers” (61). Regarding social justice, he said that “the struggle for justice is not some particular action; it is a way of life that finds room for transformative action in every domain” (65).
“…without practice there’s no knowledge… We have to have a certain theoretical kind of practice in order to know also. But practice in itself is not its theory. It creates knowledge, but it is not its own theory” (98). Practicing what you learn is the only way to fully understand what is going on (theory). You can’t just talk and gain this knowledge, because what is the purpose if no action comes forth because of that? How can you create a theory if there is nothing being tested? “ So there’s no way you can keep people going around in a circle. You can’t have a spiral, you’ll just have a circle that stays flat, if you don’t have a theory about where you’re going. The problem is where does that theory come from? Is that a valid theory? The only way you can answer that is to test it out, as far as I know” (100).
SO WHAT: “As soon as I started looking at the word neutral and what it meant, it became very obvious to me there can be no such thing as neutrality. It’s a code word for the existing system. It has nothing to do with anything but agreeing to what is and will always be — that’s what neutrality is. Neutrality is just following the crowd. Neutrality is just being what the system asks us to be” (102). Myles said that it was immoral to stay neutral because in doing so, you weren’t addressing the issues at hand and you were ignoring the injustices happening before you. There is no such thing as neutrality because by not speaking up, you are allowing oppression to happen. You may stay silent about an issue, but that silence screams your stance on what action may take place.
You also can’t just teach something without knowing the context… “What I want to know is whether it is possible to teach biology without discussing social conditions, you see. Is it possible to discuss, to study the phenomenon of life without discussing exploitation, domination, freedom, democracy and so on” (104). Although you do not necessarily have to place your opinions on a topic on students, as a teacher you must take one side on a subject, and as said earlier, if you stay neutral, you are agreeing with the dominant belief.
NOW WHAT: It’s a lot easier said than done to say that I will definitely make my voice known when it comes to social justice, but I think that just by being more aware of the injustices present in the system has brought me to a position where I know I can make a difference in at least a situation, if not on a grand scale. With Venetia Valley, dealing with the younger students has shown us that at that age they aren’t really exposed to much negativity regarding inequalities. As they get older, however, it could be a different story.
Perfect example of using privilege for good rather than bad: