“Why don’t I dress like an adult more often?” I thought to myself as I gave myself a check in the mirror. Dress shirt, blazer, proper denim jeans and dress shoes. Quite different from my cargo shorts, t-shirt and short-sleeved tropical print button up.
Now if I could only get myself to the convention center on time. Well, that will have to be tomorrow’s task.
I walked into the room for my first session choice: Education and the Community Colleges. Having made myself as comfortable as a big dude can in those tiny conference chairs, I looked up to see Carmaletta Williams the executive director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at JCCC. I did what I usually do when I see someone from my group in a session — I left. I mean, it’s nothing personal. It just doesn’t make sense for two (or more) of us to be in the same session when the conference offerings are so rich that I literally numbered my top three choices.
I slipped into the Digital Storytelling session by the Center for Digital Storytelling and I’m so glad I did. Being a writer and a board member of the Latino Writers Collective, I figured this session could inform many of the communities I serve. It will.
When we started seeing some digital narratives from students, I knew it was going to be an emotional day.
Some introspective writing prompts from the facilitators helped the group share some intense experiences. That’s when I started.
I started to think on what a powerful tool this could be for students at JCCC. The college produces some good videos about and featuring students, but they don’t come from students. That needs to happen.
Then I thought of my family and how digital storytelling could help us connect in ways that we don’t always do in person. I started to think of my work with the Latino Writers Collective and how we could add new layers to our work using digital storytelling.
The session included creating a digital story but most of the participants had devices that couldn’t support the Splice app. The group I was affiliated with was the one group that seemed to make it through the various technology barriers. That made me realize the digital divide no longer simply separates, it obstructs.
This brings me to the uncomfortable moment of the day:
We were at a conference on race and ethnicity and in a working group that was composed of a majority of people of color. Yet we were telling the story of a white woman and her journey in to the theatre.
Don’t get me wrong, it was and is a compelling story, but not appropriate for the venue. I looked around the group and the three people who were devoting the most time to this project were the three white participants. I know everyone contributed but it seems that the rest of us had to inject ourselves into the project. That was upsetting and half way through the process, I walked away.
I was one of the last people to join the working group so perhaps they all agreed to tell that particular story before they invited me.
There’s part of me that thinks, why are you busting their chops over telling this woman’s story? That’s what you are — a storyteller. But I also know a storyteller has to know his or her audience and I’m not sure that was the case.
I also can’t help but feel that there was a little bit of white privilege involved in the process. I don’t know. I need to think about this some more.