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Pop Into Community Building: When We Rise

Posted By Donald Brennan Jr., Wednesday, February 1, 2017


When We Rise: Activism Discussions 

By: Donald Brennan, MACUHO Magazine Managing Editor & Columnist

In a time of divisive political tensions and protests, there is always the opportunity to have some in-depth and difficult conversations with our students about topics surrounding social justice. In the past few weeks, we have seen protest erupt after President Trump signed the executive order instituting “extreme vetting” from individuals from seven designated countries. We have seen nominations for political office from the Trump Administration which may not fit with some of the personal values and beliefs of our students and administration. My emotions, as I am sure a lot of yours, have been on edge as I fear for what is to come and the policies put into place that may affect my friends and family.

My article typically focuses on how to use new pop culture trends in your residential education and community building. Challenging your students in these conversations and engaging them in civic activism is an important piece in residential education as it encourages their connection and involvement in the greater community. I started to think about television and movies that could really help to facilitate such a discussion with my residents. However, I really wanted to think of an example that would really encourage and promote the idea of activism and civic engagement as I feel our emphasis is often placed on cultural diversity education and cultural sensitivity topics.

I have recently started to see promotions for a limited television series on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) channel called “When We Rise”. According to ABC, “this mini-series event chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, set-backs and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBT men and women who helped pioneer one of the last legs of the U.S. Civil Rights movement, from its turbulent infancy in the 20th century to the once unfathomable successes of today”. The series will air nightly starting on February 27, 2017 until March 2, 2017 with one interruption on February 28 for President Trump’s State of the Union address.

It’s almost as if ABC planned it that way (he said sarcastically). Could there really be a better way to challenge our students’ thinking and help them grow as civically-minded adults? Due to this television event, students can follow the lives of political activists from the turbulent 1960s to the equally turbulent 2010s. Students can reflect on the impact these individuals have had while contrasting that experience with reflecting on the rhetoric and plans of the newly elected President of the United States; it is a prepackaged week long civics lesson.

I write about this not as a shaming tool to make you program in support of LGBTQIA+ rights or to transform your political leaning whatever they are to the left; because frankly as a white, Christian male, I would be shaming my own privilege. But to make you aware of this awesome opportunity that is being offered to us to engage with our students in a way that is immersive and meets our students where they are at in our culture of binge-watching. Often times, we get so busy in our work that we miss these opportunities.

In conclusion, I really just wanted to tell my MACUHO family to stay strong and active. For those of you that have been able to protest and make your voice heard, I am proud of you and am proud to call you part of my professional family. The outcry and support of those with whom the executive orders truly effect has been truly cleansing in a time where I personally was feeling upset and a sense of hopelessness with our political system. I look forward to spending time with all of you this November in Washington D.C. when we rise as an organization to echo our values and beliefs as residence life professionals. 

To view the trailer, visit here: ABC When We Rise Trailer

Tags:  ABC  activism  diversity  macuho  magazine  Pop Culture 

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