This semester is definitely one for the books. JMU’s first completely online semester. While some students had in person classes, the majority of us have been sitting in bed logging into zoom a couple of times a week. This is also my first semester taking communication classes for my major. While I have learned a lot this semester in all my classes, SCOM 301 Feminist Blogging has made the most of an impact in how I see the world and treat others.
Originally signing up for this class last spring I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have always had an interest in speaking up for others who weren’t being treated fairly, but as the fall semester approached and the Black Lives Matter protests started popping off and Covid continued to wreak havoc all across the world, I became more and more excited to hear other student’s perspectives and to learn what I could do to help.
From the first day of class I knew I had made a good decision in joining. Professor Taylor and most of my fellow bloggers had many of the same interests in mind, and coming from such a tense quarantine and time of civil unrest, the discussions were so deep and honest, which gave me a whole new way in which to view the world. Listening to honest recollections of experienced racism, sexism and homophobia really forced me to empathize with students who otherwise I might never talk to, forcing me to be introspective and left me wondering if I was truly doing enough to support these issues I claimed to support.
As the semester went on, a few of my classes, specifically SCOM 240 with Professor Peeksmease, touched on many of the same issues we covered in class, with a few lectures giving me even deeper insight into why racism and sexism have been a part of the culture of this country for so long. It made me realize that white privilege and the privilege of being a straight man was not something to pretend like doesn’t exist, but rather should be acknowledged so that it can be changed. The fact that I don’t need to stress when I see a cop driving past me, or that I don’t need to be afraid going to my car at night in a poorly lit parking lot is something I had never before really considered. It had just been normal life because I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to listen to people tell their truths from so many other walks of life.
The biggest takeaway I have gotten from this class is that as a straight white guy, if you don’t know what you can do to help, it’s really important that you keep your mouth shut and just listen at first. You can’t deny issues just because you have never experienced them. So many people suffer in this country and in this world because of things they can’t change. Just saying you aren’t racist and being a passive bystander while people are persecuted on a day to day basis based on their sexual orientation or the color of their skin isn’t good enough. By keeping my mouth shut and actively listening I have gained perspective that I can now use to make the difference I want to see in this world. No one deserves to suffer because of the color of their skin, gender identity or sexual orientation, and I will stand by that until the day I die. Thank you to everyone who has made this class something really special to experience.