This topic was not a top pick for me. Who would have thought I would find myself so passionate about it? Perhaps it is because I never really thought of my role in social justice issues. This topic, Educators Have a Responsibility to Use Technology and Social Media to Promote Social Justice, was a hot one for some. This included me and I thought long about why that ended up being so.
First and foremost I am an Indigenous woman who relies on social activism to make positive change for my future, and the future of my children and my students. I can not stay silent in my personal life nor my professional life. I don’t have that privilege. Sharing on Social Media, and participating in walks for Orange shirt day, MMIW (Red Dress), Pride Day, and wearing a ribbon skirt to support a little girl in our province who was discriminted against for being Indigenous are how I am supporting and calling for change to issues for Indigneous people and all disempowered people. Why? Because these are my family members, my band members and people in my community who are marginalized on a daily basis. I teach about and participate in these things with my own children and with my students. Guess where I see all of these events? That’s right, social media. Then I share them and ask others to join me if they wish to.
The article Genuine Social Media Activism: A Guide for Going Beyond the Hashtag, mentions how the death of George Floyd at police hands was a catalyst for many people to examine their neutrality in the face of police brutality and systemic racism and many turned to social media to express their support. Social media activism started well before this but it was a boost in using social media and it connected people from around the globe. The same article goes on to talk about ‘slactivism’ and that, “Genuine social media activism is supported by concrete actions, donations, and measurable commitments to change.” I agree that social media isn’t the be-all end-all but it is where we can share with others and it is changing how social justice grows and evolves. It is one of those cultural changes that I talked about in Topic 3. Social media extends what we are exposed to and can help us connect with like-minded people and causes.
- Angela Watson had some great points in her podcast. She does not believe teachers can be neutral. When she shared her stories it becomes clear that we need to respond.
Her words, “So for us to say our role is to be neutral is to operate from a place of privilege. Not privilege as in wealth — that’s just one of many types of privilege, and one that most educators don’t have. Our place of privilege is choosing not to pay attention to these stories or take a position on them because we are not personally impacted. None of us should be neutral about that.” There are so many times in history that teachers were not neutral and have participated in and used social media in one form or another, whether it be newpapers or Twitter. How do you think teaching treaties in the classroom became important? It wasn’t because teachers remained neutral. It was because educators spoke up. Indigenous knowledge was the same way. Woman’s rights, same thing. Modeling is how our students learn.
As I spoke about in our opening I was inspired by the article “Using Social Justice to Promote Student Voice” by Lorena German, she talks about a course she has created called Middle School Social Justice where she focuses on giving students’ voices. I can see all of the benefits of teaching students to research social justice issues and learn how to create arguments to gain valuable communication skills and over time the confidence and knowledge to speak out. We always try to teach our students these skills anyway so why not tie it to content that can help make a difference in their society.
When the Regina pride parade poster showed up in my Twitter feed I shared it and showed my students and now I will share it with you.
Debate 4 – Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice.