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The Cycle of Action: Thoughts about Allies and Biases

Author: Dr. Jennifer Harrison, Warren Community College

Are you culturally sensitive and culturally aware? These past years may have been difficult if you are open to understanding your biases. Perhaps these past few years have helped you to see the concerns of minorities in America.
What can we do? Is it enough to be culturally aware and sensitive? Is checking your unconscious/implicit biases enough? It has not been enough.
The Cycle of Inaction
Recently, I came across an Instagram post by Danielle Coke, a young Black American woman. She challenged us allies to get involved.
Her post was called “The Cycle of Inaction,” and it showed how many of us felt as we watched the country suffer from terrible injustices.
These injustices trigger a series of reactions, including shock and confusion, emotional response and performative allyship. The cycle continues until the next horrible injustice is committed.
The Cycle of Action
Coke offered a new idea, “The Cycle of Action,” where she suggested that instead of continuing in the cycle, we should be aware of our feelings when we are subject to a terrible injustice.
Instead of being overwhelmed by shock and confusion, it is better to acknowledge the systematic oppression and then be compassionate and empathetic. This will allow us to stop pretending to be an ally and instead take real action.
If we feel guilty or fatigued, we can reevaluate the needs and wants of the oppressed. Remember that justice is only possible when we act, and that apathy is not.
As someone who considers herself an ally, her post resonated with me. I thought about the cycle and the role I played in it.
I have to admit that I don’t really understand what it means to be a minority. Despite being of Hispanic heritage, I still look very white. But I do know that I can educate others and help them understand what’s going on in the world. I hope this will be the beginning of a movement to make a difference.
Your students will benefit from culturally sensitive educators. These strategies are especially helpful for online teachers.

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