Reflect upon any revelations or thoughts you have had about life. (Examples: lessons learned, developing spirtuality, etc.) Reflect upon and write about your involvement or experience with any of the CPO projects, internship programs, etc.
The Community Programs Office (CPO) has been critical in furthering my path towards cultural consciousness and humanistic compassion. The Writing Success Program (WSP) occupies a shared, collective space — separate from, yet integral to, the specific aims and advocacy of all the projects within CPO. This fits (and derives from) WSP’s own mission, which is to empower students through voice as a means to clarity, analysis, and self-representation, as a common tool for dialogue: to speak across, to speak through.
During my time at WSP, I have witnessed politicking, division, and acridness between different student groups, as have I encountered people passionately fighting injustices faced by others while themselves subjected to their own host of injustices. The CPO is, in some respects, a volatile place, volatile both in the sense that emotions and politics are so liable to rapid change, but also in the more etymologically literal sense: that it is a place where students fly.
So, myself. It should be evident by now that much of what I’ve learned from the CPO has been through (appropriately) dialogue, interactions, and observations with those probably much more embedded within the space than me. The energy and commitment of such people have inspired me, but have also reaffirmed my belief in looking towards larger correspondences, the abstract frameworks, the outer husk of things. That is, I have begun to challenge myself and others to consider the ramifications of what they are saying, locally, in any given situation.
As a white male in CPO, I noticed every time somebody used “whiteness,” or “the whites,” synonymously with “oppressive, dominant-ideology-reinscriber.” I had difficulty reconciling my inclusion into this category (I’d never previously thought myself so vile, so one-dimensional) and legitimate arguments about structural and hegemonic racism. Just as it doesn’t seem productive to say “Blackness is…,” it seemed just as divisive to say “Whiteness is…”
Thinking about this brought me to thinking about how one historically disenfranchised group can self-advocate and coordinate with other self-advocating groups without falling into a regressive discourse of oppressor/oppressed — acknowledging what race (or any other identifier) is constructed to be, but not applying such constructions to others in improving your own conditions.
Let’s explode the calcified corpse attached to signifiers applied to self! Let’s see a person as a person, the constantly churning, fluid, dialectic person located at the intersection of so many identities, yet not the actual crossbeam — removable from such structures, capable of picking them up, breaking them into pieces, and configuring them into a beautiful mosaic of the subjective.
I am gay. I am white. I am male. I am human. I am Earth-bound. My heart pumps finitely and mind continually flourishes and enfolds like yours and everyone else’s.
Critical in this aim is the use of language and rhetoric, which can so easily stir the nerves through restrictive speech and assumptive shorthand. The complexity involved in speaking of another subjective human, rather than “That Asian handicapped woman,” etc., is intimidating, but so revolutionarily liberating. It requires a heightened awareness, a higher deployment of language, an appreciation of the fullness of speech.
This I have learned working at WSP, serving those involved with advocating for their own communities within a larger, structurally connected, variegated space.