Saturday, October 31, 2015

Celebrate This Week: Provoking Dialogue and Debate

I've been reeling since I heard (and saw) the news of the student in South Carolina who was thrown from her desk and the classroom by a student resource officer. I've tried to stay on the DL about my feelings regarding race on Facebook, at least with regard to initiating conversations in my own space. I've remained comfortably silent because I didn't want to get into the social media equivalent of a screaming match with friends and family who hold differing viewpoints than mine and might suddenly find myself with contentious feelings both from and about me.

But that's a coward's way of thinking.

And my One Little Word this year is Brave.

So I need to be brave and have these hard conversations and pose difficult questions, otherwise I'm not being a positive agent for change. My blog's title IS Use Your Outside Voice, after all. I'm a hypocrite if I don't speak up for my own beliefs.

So I posted something provocative on Facebook about what happened at Spring Valley High in South Carolina and sure enough, it raised some ire. But it was also done in a mostly respectful and productive way despite the differing and sometimes heated viewpoints.

In the end though, we need to welcome that kind of dialogue and debate. If our social media spaces are just echo chambers of our own views and we unfriend everyone who disagrees with us, then that is going to be a rude awakening for you when you leave the comfort of your electronic devices and have to interact with real people in the real world who believe and behave differently than you.

I want us to talk ABOUT these things. We can't do that if we're talking AT each other or we're afraid to speak up because we fear confrontation so we just unfriend people who don't agree with our way of thinking. So as long as it stays respectful, I'm going to keep talking about tough topics and posing hard questions. And we can all stay friends... even when we disagree sometimes.

Celebrate This Week was established by Ruth Ayres


  1. This is a very wise post. I don't participate in political and controversial conversations on social media for all the reasons you say in the first paragraph and because I rarely see respectful discourse there. However, you've made very good points, and I am impressed that you say your conversation stayed productive. That's wonderful! I know it's kind of a cop out for me not to participate, but it's tricky. I'll be thinking about this post and the photo/quote. Thank you!

  2. And I think you should celebrate this, too. There is so much that can be done when a child (even a teenage child) is falling apart/defiant, & officers as well as those in a school setting might do well to be trained for good ways to help. I had a child melting down once, really tough student, that I sat with for more than an hour, no talking, just sitting on hallway steps. I had another student tell a colleague to have students use another hallway. Just waiting & being makes such a difference. It was so hard to see that video & the girl, but also knowing that the rest of the students were there watching.

  3. I love the title of your blog. It is even reflected in my post today.
    I struggle with what you speak of. I find myself avoiding confrontations because I tell myself I don't have time to argue with people who don't know what they are talking about. But I know that is a cop out. I know there is value in the discourse and valid points are present in all sides, even if I disagree. But it is hard, isn't it?

  4. I too struggle with this. It's true that the discussions can be difficult and may cause people to unfriend or drop interactions with us, but I try not to cut off those who have a different point of view. If I block them, we have no chance of continuing to learn from and about each other. There is no chance for growth on anyone's part. Not talking doesn't fix it, but staying in the discussion may lead to something more. It seems that open civil discourse is hard and seems to be rare, but I also want to be brave and stay engaged.

  5. I agree we should talk about our thoughts and feelings but social media is tricky because even best intentions can be misunderstood. I'm glad you voiced your opinions and it's definitely something to celebrate.