It’s hard to reflect all at once on 18 months of fieldwork, of investment, of trial and error.
It’s hard to look back and see things I wish I would have done differently, or things I wish would have gone differently, but have no power or ability to change those things. It’s also hard to see those things clearly. But I’m going to try to do that here, to be as open and authentic as possible as I cast my eyes backward for a bit in a moment of critical self-reflection.
Overall, I am pleased with the work our collective did on racism. I think we started an important conversation about race and racism that was really not welcome at this school and in this community before our group started working together. That said, I often wonder if it’s had any lasting impact. Throughout the project I remember being frustrated: “We’re not DOING anything! What are we changing? WHO are we changing?” I could always count on Mrs. James to remind me that “activism” is not all about big, obvious changes. Activism and change and growth can be something more subtle. I can see that, and I appreciate that.
Still, if I’m going to be honest, I really do kind of wish some of those big, obvious changes had happened. I wish we could have accomplished some of the students’ pie-in-the-sky goals, like sending a compilation of our work to somebody important, or have a school assembly where everyone in the audience would be inspired to change.
Because I’m both temporally and geographically removed from the project itself, I include here a link to excerpts from my research journal to be transparent about my thoughts and motivations as the project took place.
These are not edited, but are pulled directly from the journal I used throughout the project. I encourage readers to critically examine my thoughts, challenge my frustrations, and question my reflections. I have included some “questions for reflection” that I am really seeking answers to. Feel free to use them as jumping off points, or not. I hope to learn about myself, my motivations, and our work through this process.