I know, I know, I talk a lot about the WAM Collective. To be fair, it is a really big part of my life right now and a lot of my really amazing experiences have been brought to me because of my involvement with this student group. I am so grateful to be a part of it and if you couldn’t tell, this is going to be another post about an amazing event presented by the WAM Collective.
Last Friday, I attended the Wing Young Huie workshop We Are The Other; Get Outside Your Bubble. For the first hour we listened to Wing talk about his experiences as a photographer and as a minority in Minnesota. While sitting silently during a few of the discussion questions that involved the audience, I realized something that made me kind of upset. While there were many people there of different sexes, ages, and backgrounds, the people I noticed speaking up the most were the few middle aged white males. So many times I wanted to scream “THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU!!!!!” and I know I wasn’t the only one who felt this why, the young man I was paired up with thought the same thing. This workshop discussed identity and photography and where we fit in with everyone else, on campus, in Minnesota and in the world. I felt like the old white men were trying to take the positions of power that they so often hold, and I was kind of mad about it.
I discussed this anger while I was paired up with a young Korean man and we talked about when we did and didn’t feel the right to be angry was appropriate. Because I am white, I don’t know when it’s okay for me to voice my anger at other white people because their racism doesn’t directly affect me. He said he had the same issue with feminism, and that surprised me because women love it when men are feminists. Comparing the two struggles seemed to make sense because we both really want to make sure everyone is being treated fairly. Sometimes we don’t know where to safely stand and maybe being safe is the problem. Maybe if I stood up on a chair and yelled at the old white guys to let someone else speak, maybe then I would be a good activist. But I didn’t and I’m not, at least not yet, I will eventually reach the point where I know what I should say and do, but I don’t yet, not in activism, or college, or life. But attending events like these will only help me, and others, figure out where they fit best to help others and I think that is super important and fundamental to understanding the struggles of the world around us. I know America is not equal yet, but I do think it is possible and I think dialogue is the best way to start. So as upset as I was at those few old white guys that kept raising their hands with all the minorities, I shouldn’t be. They need to be a part of the discussion as anyone else, at least to realize what is going on outside their own bubble.
On that note, if anyone wants to have this discussion with me, I would really enjoy starting our own dialogue. I have so much to learn.
Taking pictures of students around campus was the most fun and least important part of the workshop. We let the students pick what questions they wanted from a list and got them talking. Once they were talking we had them write down a thought (related or not) and we would photograph them. I had a really fun time working with my partner, who was a media student) and speaking to other students I may never have spoken to otherwise.
I really enjoyed this workshop and everything it opened me up to, I think trying to view life from different perspectives is only ever a good thing, and everything the WAM Collective offers is worth your time.