Theory, Research, & Praxis
Chapter Twenty-Three: Beyond Identity Politics: Equipping Students to Create Systemic Change
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Equipping Students to Create Systemic Change
COLETTE SEGUIN BEIGHLEY, CARRIE SIMMONS, AND EMILY WEST
In the second year of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center at Grand Valley State University, we began to understand that our work must go beyond identity politics to include the many social justice issues that impact students. We wanted to expand our analysis beyond individual acts of discrimination to understanding larger intersecting systems of oppression that perpetuate injustice. “Change U: Social Justice Training” was created to provide both the intersectional analyses and the skills necessary to participate in transformational change that moves beyond individual activism to collective liberation. Collaborating with community partners, this semester-long social justice training engages students around work to dismantle systems of oppression.
It was students who led us on a journey away from identity politics to a more systemic analysis. In 2010, two years after the opening of the LGBT Resource Center, a sophomore who self-identified as queer and Chicano challenged our center staff to support the National Equality March for LGBT Rights. At that time, the major national LGBT organizations had not yet signed on to support that action, and our political view was still very much tied to a mainstream gay rights agenda. This student held several marginalized identities and had participated in activist ← 269 | 270 → work in his hometown of Chicago around the intersections of immigration, labor, and LGBT justice. He had experience...
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