New Terms

Today, I received a set of resources from my school’s Dean of Student Life. The set was compiled by our school’s student President, student Vice President, and Director of Libraries and Research. It lays out a path of summer study for students and teachers to help them “to continue educating [themselves] and fighting for those who have been silenced over 401 years of systemic oppression.” It’s great — an example of what happens when urgency meets agency.

Below are some terms I pulled out; I’ve heard them over the years but never really nailed them down in my own mind. Now that I have, thanks to two students and a colleague, they are part of how I’ll be viewing the world and my place in it. Aids to reflection and necessary struggle, no doubt.

Optical Allyship: allyship that only serves at the surface level to platform the ‘ally’; it makes a statement but doesn’t go beneath the surface and is not aimed at dismantling systems of oppression which perpetuate that oppression (Definition adapted from @mireillecharper instagram.)

Emotional Labor: the internal effort one must make to engage “regularly”; in a contemporary context, BIPOC are experiencing the most emotional labor during this time of unprecedented police brutality, but the term is not limited to only conversations on racial injustice

Virtue Signaling: the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.

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