In life I’m always confronted with teachable moments. These moments are often personal in nature. There is the individual that says something to me that requires a deep breath and commitment to understanding that they didn’t have malicious intent, they’re just incredibly uninformed. Even when there is malicious intent, the desire to see me lose my cool and reinforce the other persons belief I’m some raging frothy mouthed man hater, I try and center myself with the knowledge they are just incredibly uninformed. I’m a letter writer, blog commenter, and individual that believes in the process of critiquing comments I find inappropriate in the hope I’ve created a teachable moment. When one does this work, it’s easy to get lulled into the belief you hold all the answers. We are the experts sitting on panels, participating in webinars, or facilitating workshops. We pontificate on listservs and create products that are distributed to the masses (a bit of a grandiose illustration but go with me) that reinforce those teachable moments we have committed our careers to. After all, there are so many folks that are “just incredibly uniformed”.
Today, I had to have my own teachable moment and check myself. I’d taken a hiatus last month from blogging for vacation (it was lovely if you’re interested) and was ready to throw down some thought provoking prose about prevention work. I’d combed my Twitter and Facebook feeds for interesting pop culture news that could be used to highlight the work of sexual violence prevention. I checked out the posts on PreventConnect’s listserv in hopes I’d glean information that could be turned into a post. I’ve been searching and searching but I keep coming back to one thing. The murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. His death doesn’t have anything to do with sexual violence prevention but as I began to follow #IfTheyGunnedMeDown on Twitter I began to formulate how I could make a connection.
This has to be talked about after all, because systemic violence spreads out like a cancer until it infects all aspects of society. I’ve had years of culling society’s tragedies and fitting them into the sound bites needed to create prevention messages that reinforce what an expert I am. This has to be talked about because the outpouring of pictures on #IfTheyGunnedMeDown highlights our cultures need for the “perfect” victim, and I’m in the business of debunking that myth of the perfect victim. This has to be talked about because community voices are raging out, building into a collective barrage of malcontent against the system that is set in place to “protect” them. This has to be talked about because if we don’t talk about it who will? My head began to spin and spin until I stopped, dizzy and disillusioned. I can’t be that person that co-ops a social justice cause for my own. This tragedy of a life cut short because of the “isms” that permeate our world doesn’t need to be weaved into the fabric of sexual violence prevention to create a teachable moment for you the reader. My teachable moment for the day was, this story has to be told, just not by me.