Internalizing Advocacy

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The events of last year further brought to light the effects of racism and ableism, contrasting the need for humans to support each other with the reality of our inadequacies. Many people took this time to learn and educate themselves, and many more took a role in advocacy. Moving forward, it is important that we internalize what we learned last year in order to strive toward lasting changes in our worldviews and social behaviors. In a socio-cultural and transformative learning approach, Ralph St. Clair writes about how learning can be used to develop social change. Firstly, individuals form worldviews based on categorizations called schemas. After experiencing something that challenges a schema, a person can reinforce the new knowledge through modeling, creating, and reflecting. 

In modeling, individuals watch and imitate others. This simple behavior of modeling causes a person to become familiar with the action, allowing them to next act in more complex activities as they become more confident. Find someone or a group who you learn a lot from and helps you to be a person of empathy and integrity; watch what they do, and strive to enact the same behaviors. You can start small, such as by discussing what you learned with others; this will allow you to learn to use the proper language and terms regarding a subject, and proficiently educate others. 

Next, take ownership of what you learned through action and creation; you can volunteer, organize, and initiate conversations. The goal is to grow in your relationship with your learning; and make talking about equity and diversity a part of your habitual life. Throughout this time, continue to reflect; there is always more to learn and consciously evaluating yourself will allow you to gauge where you want to be versus where you are now.

And lastly, repeat! With your new insight, start again, remembering that we will always be learning and growing. It is impossible to truly and fully understand the experiences of all identities; through learning, our best hope is to become humble enough to acknowledge the limits of our consciousness and value the experiences of others more.