Centers & Institute / Social Justice

Feeling Ignited, Connected, Pushed During the 2018 Adler Retreat

On Wednesday, Jan. 24, community members on all three Adler University campuses — Chicago, Online and Vancouver — convened to dive deeper into the core of our mission and values by participating in the Annual 2018 Adler Retreat. Spearheaded by the university’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Action, this year’s event featured activities, workshops, breakout sessions, panel discussions, and more.

“We are currently grappling with one of the most calamitous times in our world history,” stated a message from members of the retreat’s planning committee. “We are faced with regressive challenges to human rights, industrialized slavery, and a continued onslaught of toxic masculinity and rape culture. We are watching our pre-civil rights movement history repeat itself. And again, there is no time for apathy or complacency.”

In alignment with the event’s “Ignite • Connect • Push” theme, students, faculty and staff members spent the day learning, connecting, and building solidarity with one another. It was a challenging yet rewarding day to explore our understanding of activism.

Among the retreat participants was Shavonne R. Fuller, an Adler University Chicago Campus student in the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology program. Below, she shares her thoughts and reflections.

Takeaways From the ‘Diversity is Not Equality’ Workshop

I was very intentional about my “silence” in this particular space. I normally do not have the PRIVILEGE to sit back and hear the subjective experiences of marginalized populations when discussing diversity and multicultural issues so it was a different approach. As a PROUD WOC, I am always sharing my story or stories of my black and brown family. I am always the one bringing the issues to the forefront then EXPECTED to also propose a solution or “outcome” to the problem. I’m exhausted- seriously exhausted.

I was looking for my well intention white allies to speak up and offer solutions to a system that they know too well how to navigate. Where I am blindsided and foreign to this system. They have created it and have made it their home where I am merely a guest. Needless to say, those well intention white allies did not discuss solutions but looked to me wide eyed with uncomfortable glares in their eyes for me to solve the problem. It was discouraging. It is and was my reality. Unfortunately, I was saddened that it was perpetuated in that space. #ignite #connect #push

We made reference to this idea of Adler being “a broken home”. We also began the conversation discussing varying definitions of what diversity means. It made me think that we offered varying definitions of diversity but never operationally defined it for the purpose of the discussion.

After processing, I realized the parallels of our broken home and the damage that arises when the creators and those who occupy a space have different ideas or beliefs on the purpose and true understanding of how this Home should function or “be operationally defined.” Where the creators felt the Home should be aesthetically pleasing. Those who reside there cared more about if steel beams and cement were used to provide foundation to the Home.

Where the creators felt the home needed modernized furniture and the latest technology to provide optimal functioning- those who reside there cared more about what structures were in place to provide safety, warmth, space to process and resolve. Where the creators provided a see through roof that would allow for the sun to radiate inside. Those who reside there knew the climate outside was mostly cloudy, gloomy and full of hate and bigotry that would seamlessly permeate the roof and be seen from the windows impacting their mental and emotional stability daily.

Needless to say the creators and those who reside HERE are not on one accord. Now that we are aware of these cracks and holes in our home, which have always been here —  What should we do to repair it? Is it even worth it?

One of my peers offered that we move to another house. At the time, it didn’t sound like a bad idea. As I reflect on it now — it still doesn’t. So, well-intentioned allies, leadership, and those who are the creators of our home and have maintained it so beautifully. What will you do to mend these cracks or should I prepare to pack my bag and leave?

Clear Calls to Action Arise From ‘Breaking the Binary’

This was honestly the most challenging, beautifully organized, and thought-provoking workshop I have attended in a while.

I have been very intentional about acknowledging my ignorance in some spaces but also open and willing to learn. During the retreat, I was #PUSHed to learn more about the utilization and importance of language in regards to preferred pronoun expression. I was forced to look at my biases, reflect on my cultural norms, then #IGNITEd to truly change my pedagogy.

Even as a person who advocates for this population, I am still not perfect in my understanding of all the nuances to their lived experiences nor to the impact of people who consistently demean them by not using their preferred pronouns. However, the facilitators normalized my experiences and truly CONNECTed with those who had varying levels of understanding.

They left us with a looming question that I so desperately wanted to answer: “What will you do to help LGBT/GNC/NB folks feel more welcomed in your spaces?” 

As I student leader, ally, friend, family member, social change agent, and clinician in training I will:

  • Begin to model introducing myself using my preferred pronouns;
  • Educate myself about the proper and appropriate terms to use when addressing certain individuals by simply asking;
  • Understand that I am not perfect and will make mistakes but will combat that with an authentic apologize when I am offensive, ignorant, or negligent;
  • Use my privilege to advocate for those who have been silenced, dismissed, or demeaned because they do not “fit” into our dichotomous boxed society; and most of all,
  • I will SEE YOU.

Embracing Humility and Harnessing the Power of Friends, Mentors and Professors

A the Adler Retreat, I became the recipient of the Dr. Alfred Adler Social Justice Award. As I humbly accepted the award, the impostor syndrome automatically took over. Thoughts began to ruminate about how undeserving I am to receive this award; that there are so many other people who could and should have this honor.

Mere moments into my negative thinking, I looked across to see my friends, mentors, and professors of color with tears of joy in their eyes beaming with pride and love, happy that I was a recipient of this award — It gave me the power I needed to stand there proudly.

It really resonated with me that day that POC truly value representation and will not yield to offer support and comfort for those, who like me, sometimes need reassurance and need to know that they belong. As a black girl raised on the South Side of Chicago who was often told through social media and various systems that I am not valued, that I was unworthy and that I did not matter — today, I matter.

Social justice, diversity, and multiculturalism are not words that have superficial meaning to me. I carry those terms with me daily and find ways in which I can apply them routinely. I am proud that my efforts were recognized. Thank you for voting for me as the recipient of the Dr. Alfred Adler Social Justice Award. I will continue to work for marginalized groups, give space to those who have been silenced, and be a representation for those who have been told daily that they do not matter.